A Response to Simon Sinek’s Rant about Millennials and the Answer for Generational Issues

September 12, 2017

Simon Sinek blew up the internet with his rant on Millennials.  I can’t tell you how much I disagree with much of what he said.  I’ll take his points one at a time and discuss them.

He said that everything that is wrong with Millennials can be summed up in four distinct areas:

  • AREA 1:  Poor Parenting:  Sinek claims that the parents ruined this generation through entitlement where everyone gets a trophy. I have questioned many Millennials about this and most seem confused.  Many of the ones I talked to did not receive the many trophies that are continually referenced by Baby Boomers.  Do you know any Generation X folks and Baby Boomers with poor parents? Why are we targeting Millennials?  Baby Boomers claim that Millennials are lazy, but many of the Millennials that I know work incredibly long hours, it’s just not during the traditional work hours.  They are constantly working! Some examples of “lazy” millennials from Inc. Magazine’s Top 20 Most Influential Millennials:

1. Mark Zuckerberg

Just about everybody has heard of Mark Zuckerberg by now. The famous millennial created Facebook, the most powerful social media platform ever – and raked in a few billion dollars along the way. Barely in his 30s he’s already spent considerable sums giving back to cure diseases and help civilizations make better decisions across health care and education.

3. David Karp

David Karp created Tumblr, a site famous among many millennials who use the blogging platform daily. The site is normally used for sharing art and images, but it also acts well for short form blogging and sharing ideas.

4. Ben Silbermann and Evan Sharp

Continuing the theme of ultra-famous social media and content sharing sites, Ben Silbermann and Evan Sharp created Pinterest. Pinterest has grown into a massive business with these two guys at the helm.

5. Jessica Alba

Yes, that Jessica Alba. Actress turned entrepreneur, Alba created The Honest Company. A company that pushes ethical and non-toxic products, The Honest Company is valued at well over $1 billion.

9. Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom

Instagram, created by Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom, is the immensely popular photo sharing social media app. The app has a particularly large audience with millennials and the upcoming Generation Z.

10. Brian Chesky

Founder of Airbnb, Brian Chesky has managed to disrupt and revolutionize the way we approach travel, room and board.

  • AREA 2:  Tech: Sinek says that Millennials are addicted to social media.  Do you know any Baby Boomers or Generation X folks who are addicted to social media?  How often do you check Facebook each day?  Why is this a Millennial issue? I agree that there should be periods where you remove devices from your world for periods throughout your day.  We recommend this to everyone, not just Millennials.
  • AREA 3:  Impatience:  Sinek claims that this instant gratification world translates into Millennials expecting instant career mobility and instant intimate relationships and joy in their life and work. Isn’t this true for our society and not just Millennials? This “chases shiny objects” emotional profile (high flexibility/low impulse control) shows up in some of our participants in our programs and it isn’t just Millennials.  There is an upside to this profile.  These folks are constantly looking for more possibilities and different ways to do things.  Why do we always focus on the negative?
  • AREA 4:  Environmental:  Sinek says that corporations don’t care about these young people and don’t give them the resources (training in social skills) to find joy and fulfillment in their work and their relationships. It’s the company’s responsibility.  That’s the only thing that Sinek said that I agree with. I do believe that most companies care about their people.  The key is to provide these resources and create organizations and projects that are relationship driven and collaborative.

Look at the following quote and try to guess who said it and when it was said:

“Our (sons’ time) was worse than our (grandsons’). We their sons are more worthless than they: so in our turn we shall give the world a progeny yet more corrupt.”

The answer?  Horace, Book III of Odes, circa 20 BC

This is nothing new.  This issue has been going on for millennia!  This is not a generational issue.  This is a communication/people issue.  We have to get to know our employees and co-workers regardless of their age, accentuate their strengths and help them with their development needs. Why don’t we talk about the positive stereotypes about Millennials?  They are incredibly smart, socially conscious, they get things very quickly, they can solve problems and figure out incredibly difficult issues in a short period of time.  They work smarter, not harder. They are great with technology.

Here’s a cool video with a response from Millennials:

My advice to Millennials?  Get off the phone, tablet, and computer every once in a while and seek out some human interaction and face to face discussion. This will help you in your life and career.  (By the way, this will help EVERYONE!)

My advice to the Baby Boomers?  Quit complaining about Millennials.  Get to know them and create a work environment that exploits their strengths. Don’t worry about their time on their phones or Facebook.  Be clear on what you want from them and give them autonomy and purpose.

Stay tuned for our next online course will be a guide on how to handle these generational issues.  Click here to check out our other online courses that will ensure more successful projects.  If you would like two free white papers and two of my bestselling books, go to brentdarnell.com/whitepaper and sign up!

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OK, Now Even the Harvard Business Review is Hopping on the Emotional Intelligence Train

August 30, 2017

 

I’ve been doing emotional intelligence work in the construction industry since 2000.  Think back to the year 2000.  What if I came into your office or on your project back then and talked to you about emotional intelligence and how collaboration and trust is really the best way to approach projects?  What would you have said?  You probably would have thrown me out of the office or jobsite trailer.  Now it seems that every single conference I go to from Construction Technology (AGC IT) to Owners (CURT and COAA) to Sustainability to Construction Research (CII) to Lean (LCI), to academia (PACE at Penn State and Auburn), EVERYONE is talking about collaboration, relationships and trust as foundation for great projects.  The research at CII and Penn State and LCI bear this out.  Relationships are drivers of project performance.  And now we are scrambling to find a way to impart these emotional intelligence and people skills to our people because, let’s face it, it’s not our best thing.

I recieved an email from the Harvard Business Review recently.  The title was How to Be Human at Work.  Here is the text:

Introducing the HBR Emotional Intelligence Series, a new line of books that provides smart, essential reading on the human side of professional life. Each book offers proven research showing how our emotions impact our work lives, practical advice for managing difficult people and situations, and inspiring essays on what it means to tend to our emotional well-being at work. This specially priced four-volume set includes Happiness, Resilience, Mindfulness, and Empathy.

You know you have been legitimized when the Harvard Business Review pays attention to it.  You know it is a hot topic.  Click Here for the ad for their emotional intelligence books.

Emotional intelligence first came to the forefront in the 90s.  Why hasn’t it gone away like so many other management fads?  I think it’s because neuroscience is verifying what we intuitively know to be true every single day.  Our emotional states affect our well-being, our problem solving, our creativity, our ability to be in relationship, and our success or failure in life.  Isn’t it about time you took a hard look at this phenomenon?

If you want to take our free Ghyst Emotional Intelligence Test, please Click Here.

If you want more resources on emotional intelligence and all of the critical people skills your folks need to succeed, click here  for information on our Total Leadership Library.

If you want more free information and resources, download my white paper that includes two of my bestselling books and another white paper on how to build the people before you build the project.  It will give you the tools you need to make your next project a huge success!  Click here to download the white paper.  

 


Are you a Misogynist?

August 23, 2017

 

On my quest for more diversity and inclusion in the AEC industry, I have focused on women as well as minorities.

The title of the blog is Are You a Misogynist?  Let’s look at the dictionary definition of a misogynist:  a person who dislikes, despises, or is strongly prejudiced against women.

I’ve been in the AEC industry a long time, and I don’t think I’ve ever met a true misogynist.  I’m not saying they don’t exist. I’m saying I never met one.  From my point of view, most of the mistakes the men make with women in the industry are because of a typical emotional profile which includes high self-regard, assertiveness, and independence and low emotional self-awareness, empathy, and impulse control.  With this combination of emotional skills, men may say or do inappropriate things and most of the time, do not even realize it. The profile also contributes to biases men may have toward women.

This is not an excuse, simply data that we can’t ignore.  Part of our diversity and inclusion training includes emotional intelligence training and mindfulness, which helps these white males to be present in those moments, fully understand the reactions of others, truly understands when things get off track, and make adjustments for better outcomes through meaningful dialogue.  Although this isn’t a total solution, many of these issue concerning women in the AEC industry can be made better through emotional self-awareness and emotional management.

Women have a tough time in the industry.  They have to walk a very fine line between assertiveness and empathy.  If they are too assertive, they are labeled a bitch.  If they are too empathetic, they are dismissed.  Most men don’t have to deal with this dilemma and are not aware that their experience of working in the industry might be different than a woman’s. Many white men tend to pull out the performance card.  If you are a high performer, you will rise in your career no matter what your gender or skin color.  This is an excellent thought, but with personal biases (conscious and unconscious), and the current culture of the industry, and based on several key studies, the reality is that women and minorities don’t get the same opportunities.  This is really coming out now in the tech industry with the debacles at Uber and Google.

I hear women in the industry discuss the likability/credibility dilemma and that fine line between the two.  Carol Bartz, the former CEO of Autodesk and Yahoo, was asked at a recent women in construction conference about this likability/credibility issue and which was most important.  She responded as only Carol Bartz could.  She said, “If I had to chose one, it would be credibility.  But if you’re an asshole, you lose credibility pretty quickly.”

I put out a survey with the following question:  As a woman in the AEC industry, what is your biggest challenge? The number one answer?:  Lack of respect.  I have worked with a woman who has a PhD from MIT in Civil Engineering, and she is still treated like an administrative assistant on some of her projects.

Let’s do a quick experiment.  If you are a white male, what comes to mind when I say Woman Project Manager?  If your mental image is filled with reservations or negative thoughts, then it’s probably time to take a look at yourself and work on your biased thinking.  Does this make you a misogynist?  That is for you to decide.  But how you define yourself is less important than what you do with your bias.

If you are a white male, I challenge you to address any biases that you have toward women in the AEC industry and promote and support them as best you can.  If we aren’t able to elevate more women into higher management positions, the women coming into the industry will continue to leave after a short period of time.  If you were a woman, would you stay if you saw no opportunities for advancement?

One more note:  The one point of discussion at all three of the women in construction conferences I’ve attended is how women sometimes undermine each other instead of supporting each other.  It seems there is such a thing as women who are biased against other women. So, women out there, especially those in leadership positions, it’s up to you to overcome any biases that you may have and help to promote other women in the industry.

Our course on diversity and inclusion explores these mental models and biases and gives you tools to be able to overcome them. If you want even more resources on emotional intelligence and all of the critical people skills your folks need to succeed, click here  for information on our online courses called The Total Leadership Library.

If you want more free information and resources, download my white paper that includes two of my bestselling books and another white paper on how to build the people before you build the project.  Click here to download the white paper.  

 

 

 


Diversity: It’s Not What You Think

August 10, 2017

When I start talking to the mostly white male audiences about diversity, many think the following:

  1.  I’m calling them racists and misogynists.
  2.  I want them to blindly hire more women and minorities with no regard to talent or skill.
  3.  I want them to admit their sins and repent.

None of these are true.  In fact, my focus on diversity has very little to do with women and minorities.  Don’t get me wrong, the AEC industry needs more women and minorities.  It not only will make us stronger and better with more diverse ideas, it will go a long way to solve the current workforce development crisis.  We’re currently driving away millions of women and minorities because they don’t see the opportunities.  Take a look at most boards and C suites.  It’s mostly white males.  Take a look at middle and top managers.  Again, mostly white males.  There are few women and minorities coming into the industry and many of the ones who enter don’t stay.

My focus is more about embracing differences of all types.  The lack of women and minorities are just a symptom of a much larger issue.  We are not good at disruptive change and embracing new ways of working.  It shows up in the typical emotional profile for the industry.  As a group, we have high problem solving skills and reality testing (right/wrong thinking) and low flexibility.  This profile indicates a tendency toward control and perfectionism.  Great for specifications and processes.  Not great for innovation, creativity and diversity.

So when you hear the word “diversity”, check it out.  This concept of embracing new ways of doing things and new ideas will propel us into the next decade, and the industry will become stronger, more resilient, more agile, and more innovative.  And the by product of more women and minorities will be icing on the cake.

Our course on diversity and inclusion explores these mental models and biases and gives you tools to be able to overcome them. And our course on innovation and creativity explores how to break down the barriers to innovation in yourself and your company.  And if you want even more resources on emotional intelligence and all of the critical people skills your folks need to succeed, click here  for information on our online courses called The Total Leadership Library.

If you want more free information and resources, download my white paper that includes two of my bestselling books and another white paper on how to build the people before you build the project.  It will give you the tools you need to make your next project a huge success!  Click here to download the white paper.  

 


Stereotype or Generalization?

August 3, 2017

 

Let’s discuss the difference between stereotype and generalization.  Stereotype is when you react to an individual or group in a certain way based on your values, how you were raised, or your association with a particular group based on education, geographical area, or socio-economic background among others.  A generalization is your reaction to an individual or group based on your past experience with an individual or group.

A few weeks back, we viewed the clip from Up in the Air:

Click here to view

Is George Clooney’s character racist as his young traveling companion expresses?  He says he learned from his mother to stereotype.  He says, “It’s faster”.  His response to the various people in the security line were generalizations.  They was likely based on his past experience.  He likely noticed that many times, the line with mostly Asians tended to go faster.  So he generalized.  Generalizations can help us.  They can protect us.  But they can also set us up to distance ourselves from people or groups that we don’t need to distance ourselves from.

If you were in line at an ATM and the following people were behind you, how would you react to each?

The first one is a Caucasian, male, biker in full regalia, covered with tattoos, wearing dark sunglasses and has a scowl on his face.  The second is a well-groomed, middle-aged, African American man in a suit on a phone call.  The third person is a young, Caucasian man listening to music in headphones, dressed in the latest Hip Hop fashion, baggy pants, ball cap, sunglasses, and lots of bling.  The fourth person is an elegant Hispanic woman in a business suit.  The fifth person is a Caucasian woman dressed in a maid uniform.

What if you changed their race, age, ethnicity, gender, or clothing?  Would your reaction be different?

What comes into your mind when I say the following?:

Female project manager

Minority Contractor

African American Male Project Executive

Indian Female Structural Engineer

Chinese Male Plumbing Contractor

Female Engineer

Pakistani Male Estimator

Grey-haired Engineer

Are there positive and negative generalizations and stereotypes that come into your mind?

How do these mental models affect your interactions with these folks?  Have you generalized to the point where you don’t give the individual a fair shake?

Our course on diversity and inclusion explores these mental models and biases and gives you tools to be able to overcome them. And if you want even more resources on emotional intelligence and all of the critical people skills your folks need to succeed, click here  for information on our online courses called The Total Leadership Library.

If you want more free information and resources, download my white paper that includes two of my bestselling books and another white paper on how to build the people before you build the project.  It will give you the tools you need to make your next project a huge success!  Click here to download the white paper.  

 


Why Most of Your Projects Suck and How to Un-Suck Them

July 26, 2017

Tracey Kidder said, “Building is the quintessential act of civilization.”  Think about it.  If three people washed up on a deserted island, the first thing they would do is collaboratively build a shelter.  Unless, of course, the three people were an architect, owner’s rep, and contractor.  Then, they would have to wait for two lawyers to wash up on the beach so that they could proceed with the project.

There is a project that I read about recently where the parties involved hate each other. I don’t say that lightly.  You can tell from their comments that they truly loathe and despise each other.  Here is a link to the ENR article titled  A Hospital Job Dispute Reaches Fever Pitch:

http://enr.construction.com/business_management/project_delivery/2015/0918-A-Hospital-Job-Dispute-Reaches-Fever-Pitch.asp

How did this project get to this point?  Could the parties involved have seen this coming?  How did they begin the project, and more importantly, what can you do on your projects to avoid such a fate? There is a link to a white paper and other resources at the end of this blog, but here is a recap:

Step 1: Get as many people involved in the process as soon as possible from owners to facilities folks to end users designers to contractors to trade partners to materials vendors. Get them in a big room.  Build a sense of team and trust and collaboration.  Note:  This cannot be done in a day.  One day “partnering” sessions are a waste of everyone’s time and energy. Lean, IPD, ILPD Design-Build, and other collaborative project delivery methods are perfect for having a framework to achieve this.  Forget IPD-ish.  Just do it!

Step 2:  Make this focus on team, relationships and trust ongoing.  Every meeting should start with the team stuff.  Bring folks in to reinforce team and collaboration and communication and trust throughout the entire project from inception to demolition.

Step 3:  Give everyone tools in order for them to achieve their peak level of mental, physical, and emotional performance.  Think about it.  We throw people in a big pot that has high stakes and crushing stress without any tools and expect them to perform like a well-oiled machine. This is ludicrous.  And they don’t get enough sleep, eat crappy food, and have really poor health habits during a demanding project.  As part of your ongoing team building, have discussions about stress and nutrition and sleep and other things that will inhibit performance.  Give them the tools they need to succeed.  It also creates a sense of connection and team because everyone is looking out for each other and their well-being.

If you want more free information and resources, download my white paper that includes two of my bestselling books and another white paper on how to build the people before you build the project.  It will give you the tools you need to make your next project a huge success!  Click here to download the white paper.  

And if you want even more resources on emotional intelligence and all of the critical people skills your folks need to succeed, click here  for information on our online courses called The Total Leadership Library.


Emotional Intelligence Questions Answered Part 4

April 11, 2017

collaborationIsn’t this just another management fad?

I have given much thought and introspection to this question. As a matter of fact, I considered this possibility when I first started this work. But after seeing the results and seeing the supporting data, the answer to this question is a resounding NO! The shelves are filled with thousands of self-help books for managers. And many of these books contain good information. So, why do management fads come and go like the tides?

Because there is a fundamental flaw in their application. They pile generic information on top of generic problems without regard to the individual. No matter how good the information is or how valid the approach, without addressing the fundamental emotional makeup of the individual, the application of this information may never take place.

Every company we have worked with agrees that communication is essential in the construction industry. Companies spend millions of dollars on training to give their people better communication skills. But because of the typical EQ profiles of most people in the construction industry, they are often incapable of applying this training. If they have high assertiveness, independence, and self-regard, and low empathy and interpersonal relationship skills, they will likely come across as someone who doesn’t listen, won’t ask for other’s opinions, and does whatever they think is best regardless of any group input. You can put that person in a communication seminar or buy them books to teach them how to communicate, but it is very probable that they will still be unable to communicate effectively when the seminar is over.

If someone has high reality testing and problem solving along with low flexibility and optimism, they may have issues concerning change. This person will have a very rigid approach to life and work. This person can go to a seminar on change management or read a book like Who Moved My Cheese?, but his lack of flexibility usually prevents him from truly embracing change. He will have difficulty in the construction industry because of the constant change, but if his flexibility and optimism are increased, he will be much better able to deal with this issue.

Using emotional intelligence as the foundation for development programs is a different approach. Instead of starting with a particular area of training such as communication or team building, we address the fundamental emotional developmental needs of every individual. Then we address these needs with specific, targeted learning modules. By addressing the emotional competencies first, the participants can develop the emotional makeup to be able to apply the concepts of the learning modules. All future training can be related back to the employees’ emotional intelligence development plans, which also make any subsequent company training more effective.

As Lisa Fanto, the the Vice President of Human Resources for Holder Construction Company put it, “I’ve been in and managed corporate education for a long time, and I’ve seen all of the fads du jour come and go and suffered through many of them. This is the only thing I’ve seen ever in my career that actually changes lives. I know that sounds dramatic, but it does. It actually changes people. And in order to change the way people manage, you have to change the way they live.”