October 1, 2012
Industry leaders gather for forum
At a recent industry leaders forum, the importance of the Millennial Generation to the future of Canadian construction was discussed and a show of hands illustrated the challenge it represents.
Less than five hands were raised when the panel asked who was part of the Millennial Generation (people born after 1980) at the recent Canadian Construction Association’s (CCA) Construction Industry Leaders Forum (CILF).
“We’re here as leaders, we have to have a willingness to transform. We don’t have very many Millennials here — next year we should try and change that,” said panelist Michael Butt, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of Buttcon Limited.
Baby boomers made up the majority of the attendees, with some Generation Xers (people born between 1965 and 1980) and a few traditionalists (people born before 1945).
The market has changed from an era where baby boomers were fighting over jobs to one where Millennials need to be fostered and retained in order to take over companies, said CCA president Michael Atkinson.
He said that traditionalists are closer to Millennials, more than baby boomers will ever be.
He added that baby boomers should get over it.
“When you were out looking for a job, there was a surplus (of workers),” he said.
“Don’t use the same prism that you went through.”
Butt describes himself as a traditionalist, who believes leaders are born with a natural instinct.
“You cannot make leaders out of followers. Leaders need to have the mental capacity to multi-task and juggle many balls at one time. Leaders need to be decisive, leaders need to be charismatic, leaders need to be entrepreneurial,” he said.
Butt said though companies are looking and fighting for more people, it’s important to get rid of poor performers.
“It’s not just about hiring the right people, it’s about getting rid of the wrong ones.”
Baby boomer Al Miller is the president and (CEO) of Canem Systems.
He believes that third party valuation and a strong onboarding program are essential in finding and retaining the future leaders of his company.
A third-party valuation gives a personal profile of a potential hire, which could indicate if that person is a team player, said Miller, who is trying to create a certain atmosphere in his company.
“There’s a bunch of stats out there that say in the first six months, a new hire, Generation Y, they’re going to decide if they’re going to stay or leave. A good onboarding program makes a big difference on if a person is going stay,” he said.
Miller also pointed to a reduced sense of anxiety over using the tools and processes of the company through a strong onboarding program.
He said succession planning really starts with identifying emerging leaders.
“We really encourage our younger people to be innovative and bring ideas to the company,” said Miller, adding that the company has had success with that approach.
“We take our people very seriously as our number one resource. They’re going to keep us going in the future. As a leader, you’ve got to be involved with your people.”
Young leaders groups, targeting professionals under the age of 35 or 40 years old, are a way to create networking opportunities with other young professionals, said panelist Jim Harrison of Comstock Canada.
They are started in order to better bridge the gap between the existing leadership, and the new up and coming leaders.
Communication is one of the largest stumbling blocks that all people face, said Harrison, who added that the most common solution is mentorship.
“A custom tailored coaching program will allow you to better teach the things that your experience has shown you. While you won’t be able to share everything, you are now able to take the items that are relevant to the individual and educate them.”
It’s important to find out if the young leaders a company has targeted actually want to participate as such.
“In a recent experience with a strategic planning session, I was amazed at just how many people that were involved didn’t even like what they were doing or what others had selected them to do,” he said.
“This was something I wasn’t expecting at the session.
“However, it brought up a great point, ensure that the people you are bringing along are aware of your plans and you are on the same wavelength.”
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