Mentoring And Its Importance in the Construction Industry
Mentoring and its connection to construction is something that is not often spoken about out in the field where there is typically a group of experienced journeymen and a foreman in charge of the crew. However, on occasion, you may have an apprentice or two on the job site who are at the beginning journey of their career. The foreman is usually a qualified and competent person along with fellow competent journeymen. That being said, a qualified person is a professional with the training credentials, diversified experience, and knowledge in his or her craft and authority to address any safety-related issues. This skill set is often acquired over time through work experience.
In construction conversations, the term mentorship is not used often but it really should be recognized as a meaningful tool in the industry. With so much experience and a strong knowledge base, mentors can serve as a powerful resource to mentees in the field who can benefit from the guidance. Simply put, a mentorship consists of someone with a genuine interest in a new field or in career advancement spending time with a person (or persons) who has more experience and wisdom or knowledge to share and is willing to share what they know. Research indicates that the mentor and mentee relationship is actually mutually beneficial for both. As the construction industry continues to develop a culture of ongoing mentorship, reverse mentoring (more experienced individuals learning from those with less experience) will occur more often, too. In addition, the mentors themselves also benefit from supervising peers and younger employees. It is one of the best opportunities for mentors to develop leadership skills and improve communication skills. In addition, mentorship can also help reinforce their own knowledge and work techniques.
Whether formally recognized or not, peer mentoring occurs often in construction and the trades on many job sites where workers with mixed experiences team together to get the job done.
My suggestion on how to be a helpful peer mentor to others in the field: it all starts with leadership from the top. Try to team up with an eager apprentice who wants to learn more and who can benefit from being your mentee. Always teach safety first and what to look for to avoid potentially dangerous hazards. You are guiding your mentee in the right direction to ensure it is a safe workplace for all. Follow up on a weekly basis, especially during the first several weeks. Think about people who have helped you excel in your career journey, and try to offer the same guidance to newer people in the field.
As a mentee, it’s important to choose a mentor who has the willingness and desire to mentor. Be open-minded and listen and ask many questions. Asking questions will allow you to learn all the nuances of the job. Be respectful and appreciative of the mentor taking the time to explain.
To conclude, one of the greatest assets of a company is its strong workforce. If employees can work together and learn from one another, it will be beneficial for all.
Mark W. Thackray
Operations Safety Director
Thackray Crane Rental, Inc.
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