Coaching for Construction Leaders

One thing I know about construction is that most of the people in the industry are good, hardworking and well-intentioned. I am proud to have spent the majority of my career in the industry. I began at a 3rd generation family-owned construction company and eventually worked my way up as the US Director of HR Services for a $10 billion ENR Top Contractor. I understand the challenges faced by contractors of all sizes.

My experience coaching construction leaders runs deep. In addition to serving as internal coaching faculty, I have been selected to represent stakeholders on advisory boards for leadership programs. I have created and facilitated leadership training and programs as well. I understand the most complex situations and can help leaders navigate tumultuous waters.

A Coach Who Understands Construction

Like many other industries, people often get promoted in construction because they have strong technical skills. However, their behavioral skills, or soft skills, are usually unproven. The best individual contributors do not always make the best managers or leaders. Here are some of the complex issues I have coached people on:

  • Self-awareness
  • Being effective in your role
  • Managing up & down
  • Communication
  • Time management & productivity
  • Avoiding burnout
  • Influence & politics
  • Being pushed out

Self-Awareness

To be a good manager and leader, you need self-awareness. My approach to self-awareness comes in different forms:

  • Interviewing key stakeholders 
  • Sending an anonymous survey to key stakeholders
  • Doing a formal 360 feedback assessment

The way we go about getting feedback is up to you, but the goal is the same. We are looking for consistent themes in the feedback as well as any blind spots. This creates awareness, which is followed by goal-setting and creating a plan of action.  It’s important that accountability be worked into goals, so you will enlist the help of a important stakeholders with whom you will regularly check in with. 

Being Effective in Your Role

This may sound simple, but so many people believe that once they have the title, they have arrived! That is rarely the case. There is a transition that happens when you move from one level to the next. It may surprise you to learn that success is not a given. With each jump in level of responsibility you have more people that you will interact with at different levels in the organization and often new relationships that stretch across different departments. You have to master skills such as influence, delegation and prioritization. This sounds easy in theory, but believe me, when you are living it every day, sometimes it’s hard to tell which way is up.

Managing Up & Down

There is an art to managing up and down the chain of command. It centers around communication. It is not easy to do this effectively.  You have to be intentional with several things including:

  • Communication styles
  • Frequency of communication
  • Transparency and trust
  • Managing both up AND down equally effectively

Remember, people are not mind readers. If you don’t fill in the blanks for them, they will make up their own story. It’s often miscommunication that is the root cause of misunderstandings, poor relationships and disagreements.

Communication

How self-aware are you on what are you communicating to others through your words and actions? How do you show up in group meetings and one-on-one sessions? How do others experience being around you? What kind of feeling do you put off when you come into a room? 

If you don’t like your answer to these questions, never fear – you can improve. In fact, being an effective communicator is a skill that can set you apart from others. You can change the perception of how others see you through steady and incremental changes.

Time Management & Productivity

Do you ever feel like there just are not enough hours in the day? Does it bother you that you are not as productive as you’d like to be? Feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list can be crippling. If this is an area where you need to focus, we’ll start by:

  • Taking stock of everything on your plate
  • Looking at what you SHOULD be doing as opposed to what you are actually doing
  • Delegating responsibilities that others can do
  • Helping you strike the right balance of strategic vs. tactical priorities for your role

Avoiding Burnout

Burnout is a huge problem in the industry. Construction is made up of competitive people who love the challenge of building and winning.

Unfortunately, people who are achievement-oriented sometimes tend to put themselves and even their families last. They will put the goals of the project and the company ahead of their own personal well-being. Hopefully, we catch this before it’s too late, but that isn’t always the case. I’ve seen a lot of good men and women leave the industry because they had just overworked themselves.

If this sounds like you, know there is hope. This too can be managed by changing your habits and your thinking. As a starting point, we’ll take a look at how satisfied you are with all the different areas of your life. We’ll focus on quick wins in the areas where you score the lowest to start rebuilding your overall feeling of well-being.

We’ll also look at how well you stack up in the Big 3:

  • Eating
  • Sleeping
  • Movement

These Big 3 have a major impact on how you feel. We know that high performing people focus on energy management. If you are deflated and tired, focusing on these 3 is just the place to start. You’ll be amazed at how energized and good you feel in just a short time.

Influence and Politics

If you want to successfully advance, you will have to master the art of influence and politics. To some people, this sounds unpleasant, but it need not be. Influence is simply persuading others to offer support to your cause. Politics is simply using your influence to further your agenda.

We all need allies to get things done. Right now I want you to stop and think about these two questions:

  1. Who is on YOUR team?
  2. WHOSE team are you on?

While these are simple questions, the answers to them have a tremendous impact on your success. The point is that you need to have the right people on your team AND you need to be sure you are supporting the right people. Who are the RIGHT people? These are simply the people who have aligned goals and beliefs. You each support each other and work together to achieve the outcomes you both want.

Being Pushed Out

If you’ve been in the industry long enough, you have seen people who were forced out. Perhaps you know someone that got on the wrong side of a new leader. Maybe you or others simply disagreed with the people in power. At any rate, if you or someone you know are being pushed out, it’s a good time to take a hard look at your values and see if there is a mismatch. Perhaps you have outgrown your current organization. Whatever is going on, we’ll take the approach of assuming a 50,000 foot view to survey the situation and help you make educated decisions about how to move forward productively.

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