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As The Economy Improves, Will You Become A Slave To Your Business?

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Jun 18,2013 @ 06:00 AM

As The Economy Improves, Will You Become A Slave To Your Business?

slave to your business

Now that work is picking up many remodelers who had larger businesses before the recession hit have admitted to me privately that they are overworked and limping along.  Because they let staff go during the recession they now have an insufficient team of leaders at the middle management levels, both in the office and in the field.  Without the right staff to help share the load and responsibilities that come with increased volume they are concerned they will become and remain slaves to their businesses.   To solve this dilemma and remain successful these remodelers will need to quickly find, recruit, train and create ways to retain high quality talented employees.  


The “Catch 22” #1

The longer they wait to get such people on board and trained the tougher it will be to find the time to get such people on board and trained.  This is because without the help already in place their workload will only increase even more, further limiting their available time to focus on finding new hires and getting them up to speed so they are productive.

Ball and Chain

The “Catch 22” #2

In a good economy it can be very difficult to find people who have the background, skills, and experience to perform as high achievers.   These employees are already working for someone else or are taking advantage of the good market and are running their own businesses.  On the other hand, during the recession economy like the one we are hopefully getting out of, there was an abundance of available talent, including those who owned but closed down their businesses.  Act now as the economy and remodeling are picking up and you might find great hires.  Wait and you will likely have to comb through whoever is left after other contractors have scooped up the cream of the crop.


Consider the following options if you want to lead the pack and get your life back

  • Consider hiring new talent before everyone else figures out it is time to hire.  Make sure money isn’t the only reason they are joining your team.
  • Consider replacing underperforming staff now while the selection of good employees is strong, before compensation expectations explode due to supply and demand, and while those who want new opportunities are eager to prove their value.
  • If too much of your time has been shifted back to production management activities, consider letting go those carpenters who need to be managed, hire real lead carpenters this time and use subs where needed to fill in labor gaps.
  • If you already have good talent, make sure you do what you can to keep them with your business.   As the economy returns other businesses, desperate to fill positions, will be over-paying to grab or steal talent from their competition.
  • Keep in mind that money is not the primary motivator when trying to retain good talent.  A positive culture, opportunity for advancement, benefits and real responsibility all rank high for employees who have a long term perspective about their careers and personal goals.


Final thoughts

Ramping up a remodeling businessAttempting to strategically ramp up staffing needs as the economy improves and get new employees acclimated before your business already needs to have them at high capacity will definitely be a juggling act.   There is no better time than now to get that process started.  Those contractors who use their past experience in this area and or the shared experiences of a mentor will have a jump on grabbing top talent.  They will be the select few who are ready for the business opportunities that will come with an improved remodeling marketplace.



Topics: New Business Realities, Hiring and Firing, Success Strategies, Recruting, Business Growth

Is He Or She Really A Lead Carpenter? Probably Not!

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, May 09,2013 @ 11:47 AM

Is He Or She Really A Lead Carpenter?  Probably Not!

What is a lead carpenter


I was involved in the creation of the NARI Certified Lead Carpenter Program.  NARI did a great job putting that program together.   When the certification was created it included a definition for what a lead carpenter really is.  Unfortunately even though experts on the system helped define for our industry what a lead carpenter is, many remodelers and construction companies have ignored that definition and have decided to create their own definitions.   Without endorsing and enforcing a common definition across our industry every carpenter can have the title of lead carpenter.  This waters down the title and leads to confusion for employees, employers and, more importantly, consumers.  Also, I don't think it’s fair to true lead carpenters, those who have achieved the skills and experience to be a true lead carpenter, if we allow impostors to receive and use the title.


NARI Definition of Certified Lead Carpenter

Certified Lead Carpenter“A lead carpenter is involved in tasks and has responsibilities beyond the technical production aspects of a project. He/she is responsible for customer contact and communication, supervision of subcontractors and employees, managing the job site, scheduling, and safety issues. The success of a remodeling project during the production stage is the primary responsibility of the lead carpenter.”


NARI’s Certified Lead Carpenter Training Program lists the following seven basic responsibilities for a Lead Carpenter:

  1. Lead Carpenter dutiesCustomer Satisfaction
  2. Material Take-offs, and Orders
  3. Job Site Supervision, Protection, Cleanliness, and Safety
  4. Carpentry Labor
  5. Supervision and Scheduling of Subcontractors
  6. Building Code Inspections
  7. Project Paperwork


Job Description for a Lead Carpenter

An Overview of the Lead Carpenter System


Are you misleading your carpenters and your customers?

Just because your carpenter is the most experienced at the job site, and or is the highest paid employee at the job site, those characteristics don't make him or her a lead carpenter and does not justify giving him/her the lead carpenter title.  Plus, unless your business setup and systems have been specifically designed to support a lead carpenter system, how could a true lead carpenter actually perform their job duties?  

Project estimate for lead carpenterFor example, if your business can't or won't share the job estimate and pricing with a lead carpenter, how could he or she manage a project to meet the budget?  If the project specifications are inadequate, and or the business doesn't have a sales to production handoff process, the lead carpenter will need to be micro managed and or will need to constantly interact with the sales person who sold the job to know what to do and what to do next.  


If you hire a real lead Carpenter will he stay?

Lead Carpenter compensationI am also aware of true lead carpenters who were hired as lead carpenters only to find out that they couldn't act as lead carpenters at the business that hired them because of the reasons shared above.  When they find these conditions at their new job they quickly realize their opportunities for career and compensation growth are dramatically compromised.   So many left for a different business and opportunity where they could use their skills and continue to advance their careers.

With the economy showing signs of improvement, and as the volume and pace of remodeling and construction increase, there will be high demand for the skills and responsibilities a true lead carpenter can bring to the job site.  Businesses without true lead carpenters in the field will have much higher overheads than those that do.  In a competitive marketplace businesses using a real lead carpenter system with true lead carpenters will definitely have a competitive and a profitability advantage.


When to Implement The Lead Carpenter System?

 The Benefits of Implementing a Lead Carpenter System(2 Videos)


Is he a lead carpenter


So, is he or she really a lead carpenter? 

Does your business really have a Lead Carpenter System?


Topics: Careers in Construction, Recruting, Lead Carpenter System, Customer Relations, Business Planning

How To Make The Ladder Of Opportunity Happen At Your Business

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Apr 11,2013 @ 06:00 AM

How To Make The Ladder Of Opportunity Happen At Your Construction Business

Note: This is the last article of a 3 article series on this topic (Click for article #1 or for article #2)

Turnkey business model for contractors 

Let’s use the example of creating a “Turnkey Business”

If you want a turnkey operation, which is one that runs without the need of the owner’s participation, the employees need to be self-motivated rather than motivated by the owner, their manager or short term measured motivation programs. Even if turnkey is not part of your vision, a single owner can’t wear all the hats of a continuously growing company. Vacations, health, and emergencies will at some point require the owner to delegate responsibilities to key employees.


Learn the “whys”

Employee motivationsThe best way to find out what will motivate team members is to ask them. While interviewing recruits or existing employees, find out not only what motivates them to grow, but also why. Connecting the “why” to the “what” can help get you, your business and that employee to where everyone wants to be much faster for two reasons.

  1. The first is the simple fact that adults choose to commit and follow through on their goals for their own, sometime selfish, reasons.
  2. Second, if the business, the marketplace or life changes at some point, knowing the why can help us find alternate ways to accomplish the long term company vision while still maintaining motivation.


Managing employee growth requires scheduled reviews

To help facilitate success support employee career advancement planning and implementation with a structured employee review process.  Be sure your review process identifies where the employee is today, where he or she is headed, and where you both expect them to be along their career path by the next scheduled review meeting. 


Generating a vision for where they will be is not enough

Career paths in construction


Work with the employee to identify the plan required to get there.  Include what the employee needs to do, as well as the company’s commitment and the necessary steps to help make it happen. 

Implementing a ladder of opportunity may require that the employee train and mentor his or her replacement.  Be sure the company provides "training of the trainer” early in each employee’s career path.  Education then becomes part of the company culture and facilitates constant growth among workers. 


Write down and maintain records of the employee review process.

Cosntruction employee performance reviewInclude in your record keeping not only the reviewer’s comments, but employee’s feedback about how well the company helps him or her to get there.  If your process includes writing down what has been agreed to at this review, both the company and the employee will know what to do between now and the next review.  You will also both know what you will be discussing at the next review.  This helps minimize the typical fears experienced by both the reviewer and the employee when anticipating the next review meeting and what they should talk about during the next review. 

If the review process is well thought out, properly documented and followed throughout each employee’s career, you have created a ladder of opportunity!


Related articles:

Article #1 of this series: Successfully Grow Your Business By Creating a Ladder of Opportunity For Employees

Article #2 of this series: How To Create A Ladder Of Opportunity For Your Employees

Government to Contractors: Start Hiring Convicted Felons!

Mentor Me, Please - Gen Y Business Owner Offers Peers Advise

Contractors: How To Work With Generation Y From One Of Them

Gen Y Member's Advice To Peers: How To Develop A Good Work Ethic


Topics: Hiring and Firing, Success Strategies, Worker Training, Careers in Construction, Recruting, Team Building, Employee Advancement, Business Growth

How To Create A Ladder Of Opportunity For Your Employees

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, Apr 07,2013 @ 06:00 AM

How To Create A Ladder Of Opportunity For Your Employees

Note: This is the second article of a 3 article series on this topic (Click for article #1)

Look ahead to where you want to be

Ladder of Opportunity


Creating a ladder of opportunity requires that you create a vision for where you want your business to go and how you will make it happen.  It also requires that you sell the vision to existing and recruited employees. Help them see the vision and growth plans of the company so they can see where they have opportunities to fit in and contribute to the growth as well as, at the same time, accomplish their own personal goals.

The Ladder of Opportunity strategy requires that you develop a career planning strategy based on a deliberate balance between how the company needs to grow and how employees envision their roles. For example, a designer who possesses previous field and production management experience will likely generate designs that are easier, more efficient and cost effective to build. Projects designed using such experience are also more likely to be consistently profitable.


Hiring the right employeesGrow or get out of the way

If qualified employees do not see themselves as part of the evolution, you must either decide to keep them in their current roles, if possible, and/or realize that you will eventually need to hire someone else to fill future positions as the business grows. Be sure to seek out and retain the right people on your bus and take the wrong people off of the bus. Tolerating poor performance from some employees may give the wrong message to the more motivated workers.  

For smart employees, climbing the ladder of opportunity in a growing business means that someone else may be on that ladder rising right behind them.  Aspiring and high performance employees may become frustrated and lose motivation if they are held back in their career paths due any inability to climb the ladder of opportunity.  This being the case be watchful for the employee who tries to sabotage or hold other employees back as a way to maintain their status.


Managing career paths

Establishing employee career paths that benefit the business requires that you create a plan to Design/Build both the business and its employees. Decide where you want to take your business, what employee skills are needed to get there and how you will incorporate those abilities into your team’s existing pool of strengths.

Employee carreer pathsTo help manage the process of building employee skills, avoid mutual mystification. Clearly detail your vision and sell the goals involved to your team members.  Ask for a commitment for this required growth, both personal and professional, from each team member. Ask them how they see themselves fitting into this vision. Employees can choose to grow with the company, or, to be fair, perhaps they should be told that the company will out-grow them.


Be proactive with job descriptions

As an added caution, be careful not to develop job descriptions based on who you already have on the team. This would be like Design/Building a project for a client by only using the left over and miss-ordered materials that are collecting dust in your warehouse. How could you fulfill the purpose of the client’s project if you limit the design in such a way? Instead, Design/Build your business by creating job descriptions specific to your company’s vision and the path required to achieve it. 

Construction company job descriptionsIf you are the business owner, create job descriptions for employees who will complement the skills you bring to the business.  This helps you to concentrate on what you are best at and/or prefer to do yourself.  If you plan to eventually give up certain responsibilities, keep an eye out for your replacement and include mentoring as part of that person’s career path.  Mentoring helps socialize the employee into the nuances of the already established norms and values of both the job position and the company.

Watch for the follow up to this blog (article 3 of 3) which will be titled "How To Make The Ladder Of Opportunity Happen"


Related articles:

Article #1 of this series: Successfully Grow Your Business By Creating a Ladder of Opportunity For Employees

Article #3 of this series: How To Make The Ladder Of Opportunity Happen At Your Construction Business

Government to Contractors: Start Hiring Convicted Felons!

Mentor Me, Please - Gen Y Business Owner Offers Peers Advise

Contractors: How To Work With Generation Y From One Of Them

Gen Y Member's Advice To Peers: How To Develop A Good Work Ethic


Topics: Success Strategies, Worker Training, Careers in Construction, Recruting, Team Building, Employee Advancement, Business Growth, Culture, Leadership

Grow Your Business By Creating a Ladder of Opportunity For Employees

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Apr 04,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Successfully Grow Your Business By Creating a Ladder of Opportunity For Employees

Ladder of opportunity for employees

Note: This is the first of a 3 article series on this topic

It has been my observation that the most successful construction businesses are the ones that plan for and achieve consistent growth. This growth is measured in two ways that go hand in hand.  The first, and probably the most obvious, is growth in revenue.  The second, and most important, is the growth of the employees who comprise the team.  These two forms of growth go hand in hand because without employees to manage and complete the work, you cannot increase your revenues. Another important consideration is that growth will be pointless unless you maintain profitability.  Adding quality employees helps you to maintain and boost your financial success.

You can jeopardize consistent growth by constantly replacing employees or forcing new hires into management positions. The fact is that as a business expands, you will need additional employees and skills to maintain the growth. Employee retention and improving upon their skills are easier and quicker ways to grow. Creating a ladder of professional and career opportunities for your employees helps facilitate a long-term design strategy for your business.  The ladder of opportunity is created by moving employees forward into new positions and bringing on new team members to fill the positions they leave vacant.  You maintain the ladder of opportunity by helping new hires to grow in this same way.

Reasons for using a "Ladder of Opportunity"

Evolution Vs. Revolution?

Business growth strategies for contractorsIt’s not easy to replace employees as they leave your team or to bring on new hires that possess the necessary skills to ensure your business grows. Doing so also delays the rate at which you your construction business can grow.  You need to also consider whether you feel it is really fair to existing employees if you don’t give them the opportunity to move up within the company. If you are not developing employees as the company grows, you will eventually face a revolution, rather than an evolution.  If this happens, you may be forced to replace these employees with others who already have the skills the growing business needs.  This approach can be very risky and expensive.


Offering a ladder of opportunity helps keep good employees. 

Career path for a carpenterI always found that great employees are far more motivated by opportunity, responsibility, accomplishment and a sense of personal fulfillment than by the use of short-term incentives, such as cost of living wage increases, one-time bonuses, or an occasional pep rally. The right strategy, as long as it is sensitive and relative to the career path of your employees, will help keep those employees on the team.  It can also steer your company in the direction of recognizing who can move up the ladder and how to train them to ensure that your business evolves. The effects of such strategies are longer lasting and often permanent for the business and its employees.  Additionally, this strategy works well because existing employees are familiar with your company’s systems. They already fit into the culture and know how and why you do business the way you do.  It will take longer for new employees to learn about your culture, adapt, adjust and become productive dedicated members of your team.  Having employees start their career paths at the bottom of the ladder affords the business owner the advantage of limiting the expense and risks if the employees do not fit in or decide to leave the business.

Read the follow up to this blog (article 2 of 3) titled “How To Create A Ladder Of Opportunity For Your Employees”

Related articles:

Government to Contractors: Start Hiring Convicted Felons!

Mentor Me, Please - Gen Y Business Owner Offers Peers Advise

Contractors: How To Work With Generation Y From One Of Them

Gen Y Member's Advice To Peers: How To Develop A Good Work Ethic


Topics: Hiring and Firing, Worker Training, Careers in Construction, Recruting, Employee Advancement, Business Growth, Culture, Business Planning

Government to Contractors: Start Hiring Convicted Felons!

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, Mar 24,2013 @ 09:30 AM

D.S. Berenson


Guest Blogger: D.S. Berenson is the Washington, D.C. managing partner of  Berenson LLP (, a national law firm specializing in the representation of contractors and the remodeling industry. He may be reached at

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to Contractors:  Start Hiring Convicted Felons!

EEOC Says Hire Convicted FelonsOur friends at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have recently decided that “equal opportunity” should include convicted felons.  That is according to a bizarre and confusing “guidance report” recently issued by the EEOC directing employers to hire more felons and other ex-offenders .  And if you refuse?  Well, then you risk committing a federal crime.

The EEOC was originally established to enforce Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act – allowing workers to bring suits and claims against employers for illegal hiring practices against minorities.  But like a number of federal agencies, the EEOC seems to be reinterpreting and expanding their mandate to fall into a more “politically correct” frame of mind these days. 

Some History

Hiring convicted felons

In the late 1980’s the EEOC sued a Florida trucking company because the company refused to hire a Hispanic man applying for an open truck driver position.  The company, Carolina Freight Carrier Corp., showed the EEOC that the man had multiple arrests and had served 18 months in prison for larceny.  “So what?” said the EEOC, that has nothing to do with his qualifications to be a truck driver.  The EEOC stated that company’s hiring practices created a disparate or unequal impact on minorities - and as a result was illegal.

The case went to court and was heard by U.S. District Judge Jose Alejandro Gonzalez Jr. (and, yes, he was Hispanic).  The judge, in ruling against the EEOC, summed the situation up nicely: "EEOC's position that minorities should be held to lower standards is an insult to millions of honest Hispanics. Obviously a rule refusing honest employment to convicted applicants is going to have a disparate impact upon thieves."

Not surprisingly, the EEOC ignored the ruling and moved ahead anyway. In 2012, the agency formally declared that that "criminal record exclusions have a disparate impact based on race and national origin."  (In plain English, that means that refusing to hire convicted criminals results in discrimination against minorities).


Background Checks before hiring

Catch 22?

With the most recent guidelines, the EEOC is now warning employers that refusal to hire job applicants due to a criminal past will be seen as a violation of the Civil Rights Act.  Sadly, the EEOC doesn’t tell us what to do when we hire a convicted felon, but then get sued when the convicted felon commits crimes against our customers and office workers.

For those who believe in the domino effect, stay tuned:  President Obama has just nominated Tom Perez to head up the Department of Labor. Mr. Perez currently sues banks for discriminatory lending practices in his role as head of the Department of Justice’s civil rights division.  His legal theory in these suits?   That employers are liable if their lending practices result in a “disparate impact” to minorities – the same theory now pushed by the EEOC in regard to employers refusing to hire convicted felons!


Topics: Hiring and Firing, Recruting, Guest Blogs, Legal Considerations, Government Regulations

Mentor Me, Please - Gen Y Busines Owner Offers Peers Advise

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Mar 21,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Justin Jones


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

Respecting older craftsmenRespect. 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.

Gen Y Bussines OwnerBuilding 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.

Respect for older craftsmen

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?


Topics: New Business Realities, Recruting, Team Building, Guest Blogs, Opinions from Contractors, Generation Y, Culture

Gen Y Member's Advice To Peers: How To Develop A Good Work Ethic

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Feb 28,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Mark Brown


Guest Blogger: Mark Brown is a student at BYU-Idaho where he studies Construction Management. He currently lives in Spokane, WA, working as a carpenter and studying online while his wife finishes her Bachelor’s degree in nursing. In this article Mark offers advice to his Generation Y peers based on what he learned from the commenters who shared their thoughts about Mark's first guest blog where he shared advice for contractor trying to work with Generation Y employees.


Gen Y Member Offers Advice to His Peers: How To Develop A Good Work Ethic That Will Make You Stand Out

Advice for Generation YRecently Shawn published some of my ideas and suggestions for contractors working with Gen Y employees in an article titled: “Contractors: How to work with Generation Y from one of them.” It became obvious shortly after the article went live that this subject is something many people have strong opinions about. I’ve sifted through over 8,000 words of commentary (over 15 pages!) left by readers of that article to try and find some common threads that I can tie into a follow up article for Gen Y’ers that shows them firsthand what industry professionals are looking for today and how they can stand out.

One of the biggest grievances about Gen Y is that they just don’t care. They have no respect. They’re too absorbed in themselves and the here and now of social media to be interested in learning a skill or craft. If you are guilty of this sin, it is time to change. Find something you enjoy doing, be it construction related or not, and STUDY it. Find books, magazines, museums, websites, blogs, Facebook pages, Pinterest boards, even actual human beings who enjoy the same thing. If you find yourself awake in the wee morning hours, let’s say reading blacksmithing books or something, you’re probably headed in the right direction. Learn to love and have passion for something real. Bring this enthusiasm to the job and apply it to learning a new skill. You will work harder, learn faster, and grow to truly love what you are doing. I think as Gen Y’ers we should all take a page out of this guy’s book…



Put your technology away and work.

If your girlfriend can’t wait, she might cost you more than dinner and a movie. Stay focused if you work on a computer all day. Get up and walk or get a drink to take a break rather than check your Facebook. We all know long winded personal calls and texts on the jobsite are unwanted. Learn to go without your phone in your hand for 8 hours a day and you will see better work, more focus, and I swear the day goes by twice as fast when you’re not constantly thinking about what “she” is doing (or “he” for that matter).

Put technology to work at work

At the same time, be the guy who remembers what your technology can do for your work. Bring up how to articles, diagrams, photos, and references from all that studying you’ve been doing. When questions or confusions arise on the job, be the one who remembers you can access plans, scopes of work, calculators, and change orders from a phone. Just remember to avert your eyes from tempting texts.

Finally, learn to work.

Hiring Gen Y workers for constructionAnd I mean, like, the bury the guy who’s been doing this for as long as you’ve been alive kind of work. Show up on time. Be “present” mentally and physically. If you’re in the field, watch and learn the old guy’s tricks. Your fresh knees and elbows are worth their weight in gold. Don’t be afraid to stay late and show up early to organize, plan, and prepare. If you’re in the office, stay on top of technologies that relate to your industry or can be used to better it. Make suggestions, study the costs, and take initiative to show off things that can make the business better and more profitable.  


In summary

These are three simple suggestions that come not really from me at all, but from people across the nation who have spent decades learning what they do. By adopting these ideas to both your professional and personal life, you will be happier, fulfilled, and far more valuable than most. I encourage you to share them with your friends and family in hopes that Gen Y can learn how to contribute more effectively to the industry and the world.


Topics: Careers in Construction, Recruting, Guest Blogs, Generation Y

Contractors: How To Work With Generation Y From One Of Them

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, Feb 17,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Mark Brown


Guest Blogger: Mark Brown is a student at BYU-Idaho where he studies Construction Management. He currently lives in Spokane, WA, working as a carpenter and studying online while his wife finishes her Bachelor’s degree in nursing. This article is a shortened version of an essay titled “Is Generation Y learning how to learn?” written by Mark for a research writing class. It has been revised to help contractors working with Gen Y employees.


Advice For Contractors On How To Work With Generation Y From One Of Them

Generation Y in construction“Things just aren’t the way they used to be” is a lament often heard from aging generations. However nostalgic and skeptical this observation may be, it is definitely true. Generation Y (those born between 1980 and 2000) is growing up in a world completely different than their parents. Today we are surrounded throughout our waking hours by new technologies and devices that feed us steady and seemingly infinite flows of information, providing us with instant connection to knowledge that used to be much more difficult to acquire. Obviously, things are not the way they used to be. One can’t help but wonder; how do these changes affect our daily lives?  The way we work?  Our relationships with others?  The way we see ourselves?  How we learn?  

Contractors today face an especially daunting task trying to teach the business to a generation that learns completely different than the average hard-knocks PhD. Understanding these differences is essential to utilizing the huge talent Gen Y possesses and snuffing your own doubts of any hope for the future. 

The way Gen Y learns is fundamentally different than their parents.

Hiring Generation Y


They process information about ten times faster, they expect free and instant access to all this information, and they wonder what everyone else thinks about it all. Most have grown up learning on a computer from the time they were in grade school. Google is their main professor and they’ve learned to research as fast and efficient as possible. Capitalize on this. Gen Y can sail through tasks you find yourself poring over for hours like learning new scheduling software, Google Sketchup, or computer networking. They love to share what they’ve learned and can help you learn faster.



They can learn fast and perform consistently

Like a Southern California piece-work carpenter, Gen Y loves to have their work lined out and ready to tackle. This may be frustrating to those who value someone who can see what needs to be done and figure out how to do it, but think of the value of someone who can learn fast and perform consistently. Gen Y is also extremely adaptable, so they can learn how to be the leader who takes charge. They just need a better reason than, “Because that’s how it’s done you idiot!”

Can, will you give them what they want?

Contractors hiring generation YGen Y has often been accused of wanting everything right now that their parents spent 25 years earning. However fair the accusation may be, it definitely reveals something about Gen Y. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more ambitious bunch. If they know that you can give them something they really want, they will follow whatever path you draw for them to get it. You can build them in ways that you never could with a burnt out 50 year old carpenter who’s been swinging a hammer the same way since he was 18.

The construction industry has seen some dismal days as of lately and those who have spent nearly a lifetime in it may not wish others the same. But, I hope they can see the promise that exists in the younger generation and take some time to be coaches and mentors to those who are ready and more than capable of taking the industry to the next level.


Topics: Hiring and Firing, Success Strategies, Worker Training, Careers in Construction, Recruting, Mentoring/Coaching, Guest Blogs, Opinions from Contractors, Generation Y