Three Steps Toward Career Success

Overcoming Career Obstacles in Construction Management

Have you walked down a sidewalk, and the next thing you know, you are redirected to step through scaffolding? You look down the path yet can’t tell what awaits at the other end. Is it to your intended destination or to another choice to take a left or right turn through a more confined pathway and longer route? What do you do? How do you feel? Do you even think twice or just head on down the road?

Trust Building

When walking down your career path, there are times when we face a choice to trust the path that may be making us feel restricted and headed toward the unknown. The ability in those situations to overcome initial anxiety around what is on the other side could lead to an opportunity as fabulous as the water at the end of this particular scaffold walk I took not long ago.

Navigating Dark Pathways to Career Success in Construction Management

Interviewing thousands of construction management, administrative, and accounting professionals over the years, my team and I can see a pattern of those who are the most successful in construction management careers. I also see this same pattern in those who have worked directly for me over the years. These successful individuals can navigate through obstacles to get to where they desire to go, and they do so by delivering the mission and following the vision of the company they employ. What three steps can you take towards career success?

1.  Eliminate Fear

In the book Happily Married to Your Employer, in chapter 6, titled Career Building Solutions, I describe the fear of trying something new and the fear of repeating something negative, which can prevent you from taking a chance in your career. Have you ever not moved forward because you could not see what it looks like on the other side or because it looks like a path you headed down in the past that didn’t turn out favorably for you? Those who are most successful don’t have predetermined outcomes. They work through obstacles that may or may not affect their destination. They know without validating their initial fears that they could miss out on what lies ahead of them if they always take a different route when they can’t see the end or don’t go at all.

2. Develop Processing Skills

Why did your teachers make you show how you came to the answer with your homework? They wanted to see your thought process in how you arrived at the conclusion. Often your employers, co-workers, and other associates need the same thing from you before you hit the send button on an email or execute on a project. Developing and implementing the use of processing skills helps gain buy-in with those you are working with that the result you are seeking is in line with the result they intend to achieve, aligning your pathway for success on your project. Yes, A + B = C and B + A = C, yet timing and delivery (messaging and tone) play a huge role in getting the overall result that may play into a bigger overall result. An example might be your ability to understand the importance of a single RFI on a project and how one task corresponds to meeting the overall deliverables to obtain a TCO. Your ability to articulate and follow up for effectiveness and efficiency on the single RFI—because you understand how each task combined on a project becomes the difference between meeting your overall delivery date or not—is process thinking. Process thinking is about being in tune with the practices you are using to try and achieve your result.

3. Communicate to Secure Trust

If you visit my office, some sayings on the walls are “Talk is Cheap” and “Verify, Don’t Justify.” When sharing data and information with others, eliminating ambiguity and providing supporting backup data eliminates risk. This risk is not just the risk associated with the project but the risk associated with your own job security. On a project, communicating that you obtained photographs and documentation, stating something was complete, as opposed to communicating that a sub-contractor or associate told you it was complete, eliminates the risk of what one person considers to be complete as opposed to what another considers complete. The same holds true when verifying employment. Many individuals will state, “I stayed until CO, and then they did not have another project for me.” Those who provide a reference that verifies that to be the case eliminate doubt that the individual left during the most critical time of the project and build trust out of the gate with the new employer, as it demonstrates they are someone who stays committed to finishing what they start even if they risk working themselves out of a job. More often than not, those individuals were also rewarded with severance or completion bonuses from their departing company and have more choices in their next career choice. They did not just say they finished the project. A stakeholder in the project verified that the individual saw the project through to completion.

Finding Your Career Destination Through Perseverance in Construction Management

Clearly when walking through this scaffolding, I could see paradise awaited at the other end. Most other times, when walking through a sidewalk enclosed with scaffolding, I can only see a darkened pathway with an opening at the far end with more light and what appears to be more sidewalk—yet I can’t see for sure. Your career will have both of these moments: moments of clarity and moments of taking a darkened pathway in faith that it will lead to your intended destination. You must decide if you take the walk or not.

Those who step forth with anticipation, think and plan before they act, and develop the ability to communicate to build trust are those who, more often than not, come out of what appears to be a confined walk down a dark sidewalk, finding their destination on the other side.

Even when you can’t see the whole path ahead, there is usually enough light to take the next step. Do you take it or not?

To Three Steps Forward in Your Career,

Suzanne Breistol



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