A Decade to Remember: Past and Future

2020 is here! Most people in the construction industry don’t want to look back a decade to 2010. The recession was in full swing, opportunities were limited to certain project types, and companies of all sizes were competing for those few.  Hiring was an employer’s market if they could and were willing to offer the top people decent compensation packages.

Flash forward to 2020.  Every type of project imaginable is in planning, preconstruction or in various stages of construction. Compensation packages are on the rise, with money-chasers taking full advantage of it, rather than strategically building their careers.

The Saturday before Christmas, my husband and I gathered with twenty or so of his former co-workers, as well as their respective guests.  Although this group had not seen each other for more than a decade, they resumed their prior acquaintances as if they had been left off yesterday.

The group reminisced about the company, projects, each other, and others who were not able to be present for various reasons. Someone in attendance made the comment that “despite the many challenges on the projects, everyone’s unique personalities, and their Executive Vice President always pushing harder, they never had disputes that personally attacked one another.”  Daily, there was healthy conflict as things needed to be done, and done correctly. In further recollecting, they went on to discuss how none of them took constructive criticism as a negative.  Listening to some of the idiosyncrasies of their co-workers, you knew this happened because they had made the conscious choice to better themselves, their projects, and their companies.  They chose to do what was right despite how they may have felt in the moment, and all these years later, it’s clear that these choices have paid off, for their careers are thriving.

Only one of the gathering attendees remains employed with the reunion-hosting company today.  The common denominator of those still in the workforce today was that the industry isn’t the same as it was in the past.  However, their outlook again shone through the situation, as they quickly switched the conversation to thanking God, and spoke of things such as there being no more bid hotlines, dialing-into computers, thermal fax paper, or copying plans. One of the ladies even referred to herself as the Executive Vice President’s secretary.   Our young adult daughter helped us at the event, and I am fairly sure many of those things sounded like ancient history to her. Nevertheless, these were only replaced with updated technology in the last one or two decades. The youngest of the workers present at the reunion is nearing fifty, and despite all the changes of the present, especially in technology, they spoke about how important it was to lead the charge in learning and embracing the changes.  If they could do it, anyone could.

I hope you will join me in learning from this team as we move into this next decade:

Accept the new normal and where you are today.

Most people tend to idealize the past, and often for good reason. However, excessively clinging to the memory of how things were done in the past is counterproductive when changes are present.   If something doesn’t exist anymore, it is sometimes best to let it go. Some of the best opportunities in life are presented to us when we open ourselves to change.

Maintain a positive inner attitude and inner dialogue.

It’s quite easy to see what feels or seems wrong, especially for those in construction whose job is to find flaws in design and correct them.  “What helps is to have a mentality where we think more about the possibility than impossibility”, and focus on the result we are seeking rather than the people or obstacles in our way.

Take charge of your own actions.

As in all aspects of life, there will always be factors within our careers which are not within our control.  Stress can emerge from the uncertainty that arises when we feel we have lost something.  It is important to “own” our actions and words in the workplace, and turn the focus onto what we do have, instead of wanting to go back to something that no longer exists.

Use what you learned to mentor others.

Although that good thing you wish you had back may not be available to you, you nevertheless have the opportunity to lead others towards creating a positive experience in their present work environment.  Eventually, this could result in developing other workplace friendships and teams who want to stay in touch in the future, for then they could reminisce on a positive workplace experience.

Happy New Year,

Suzanne Breistol

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