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Professionalism in the construction industry: re-defining the stereotype
Is the construction industry evolving? Whose responsibility is it to raise the bar on professionalism in the industry?
We all are familiar with the stereotype of a construction worker; the misnomer that they are lewd, that they catcall toward any woman passing their site, that they are dirty, maybe under-educated and second-tier members of society. The words “construction professionals” are part of our corporate name, and each person who works here is exactly that: a professional. The leadership in our company has three basic requirements they feel are vital to validate having the word “professionals” in our name. Industry-wide, it is the responsibility of leadership to train, educate and teach personnel how to be professional so we can continue to shift further from the stereotype.
When meeting somebody for the first time, the first thing we notice is appearance. Is the person sloppy and unkempt or do they have their clean, hole-free shirt tucked neatly into their pants? Is their hat on straight? Are their boots (relatively) clean? Do their clothes fit them well? Provide your team members with quality uniforms and have a conversation with them about your expectations for a neat, clean, professional appearance. Image is noticed and often scrutinized; whether in the office or field, our construction professionals and held to a high standard.
Our field personnel are our sales staff; they are the front lines, the ones who clients interact with most. Teach your field personnel to greet others with a firm handshake and a smile. Are your team members smoking on site or chewing tobacco? Are they spitting, swearing or acting in a degrading manner to their coworkers? Expectations of field personnel should be just as high, if not higher, than they are for office staff. To convey professionalism, train your personnel to always put their best foot forward.
Treat others respectfully, professionally
Ever hear the saying, “Treat others how you’d like to be treated?” That goes for the workplace, as well. Coach your team members in etiquette and mentor them on proper social norms for various situations. When on a project site, we’re being watched by trades, owners and occupants. They see how we’re treating others and that is a direct impression of professionalism. Project sites are busy and meeting the schedule is paramount, but taking a moment to hold the door for another person or helping a person in need of an extra hand only takes a minute.
These three attributes are just a few of the things that paint an image of professionalism. Together, let’s eliminate the stereotype of the “typical construction worker.” Let’s shift the paradigm and make ours an industry people want to pursue as a profession. As leaders, let’s take the responsibility of training, teaching, coaching and mentoring those who are wearing our logos. Let’s define expectations early and be consistent with enforcement. Let’s raise the bar for professionalism in our industry.