Guest Blogger: Justin Jones is a licensed General Contractor, Roofing Contractor, and Plumbing Contractor based out of Palm Harbor, FL. Justin is also a writer and speaker on topics including Contractor Sales, Marketing, and Leadership. At 32 years old, he is a member of Generation Y.
Mentor Me, Please - Gen Y Business Owner Offers Peers Advise on How to Learn From Craftsmen
Dealing with older tradesman can be tricky at times. In my own business, I've been dealing with this interesting arrangement for the past seven years. Through the ups and downs, I have managed to form some great relationships with older tradesman.
At first, I expected them to complete tasks with incredible haste, but ultimately, I realized that there was no harm in taking things a bit slower. I set out to establish a mentor-mentee relationship with these older, more experienced tradesmen.
Start With Respect
Respect. From those first meetings with prospective employees, I've always been careful to offer the utmost respect, particularly when it came to older craftsmen. I respected them based on their many years of experience. I took the time to listen to stories about the good ole' days and how things were done differently. I'd smile and nod my head as I listened. Many of the stories were well-told and well-crafted, providing me with wonderful insights and lessons. I never questioned the knowledge of my senior tradesmen. And if questions ever did arise, I was always careful to ask in a tactful manner.
Communication. As I'm in the process of hiring a new individual, I always inquire about their communication preferences. For years, most individuals would indicate their preference for phone calls. But more recently, individuals have expressed a preference for emails and texts. Quick and concise “yes” and “no” communications amongst my team members have served to maintain an open dialogue platform. These open lines of communications have made my employees feel comfortable to call at any time if they need direction or they're second-guessing a decision. I feel this is an extremely important part of our business.
Questions. From job to job, I take the time to lend a helping hand, whether it's loading materials or inspecting trade tools. These interactions provide a perfect opportunity for asking questions. Many tools had the appearance of museum artifacts, but every once in a while, I got a chance to see these relic tools in action; my skepticism was squashed after viewing their quick time-saving functions. I got to return the favor as the building codes have changed several times over the past four years. I'd receive calls from tradesmen, who were wondering if there had been a code change. Sharing back my knowledge has proved to be a great opportunity to build rapport and return the favor.
Building Rapport. Last week, I approached my team – consisting of several individuals in their late 40s and 50s. I had the opportunity to get their feedback on what they enjoyed most about working on my team. Their answers were all based around rapport. They liked the fact I support their decisions and they were grateful for my willingness to step in and help without being asked. As the leader, I've always been quick to step in and get the project back on track if issues arise. In addition, I've learned that communication with these team members must be clear, concise and written. Accommodating them in this way has led to much better productivity and the strong rapport makes for a healthier work environment.
Learn to be humble
I turn 32 this year and I'm willing to admit to my team that I don’t know everything and on occasion, I need help. Many individuals in my generation believe they know everything, but Google won’t teach you how to work as team, nor will it teach you how to maintain your focus on accomplishing a goal.
We work as a team as we complete tasks and gather referrals. This team approach has created a wonderful synergy between me and my team members. We have built a relationship based upon trust and open communication.
My advice, what do you think?
Approach older tradesman and offer them the respect they deserve. Be willing to learn from these more experienced individuals. Adopt a mentor-mentee relationship and you may be surprised by how much you can learn from these older tradesmen. Anything you would like to add?