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.  

 

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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.  

 

 

 


Things I Learned from the Groundbreaking Women in Construction Conference

January 16, 2017

Celebration Community Cheerful Happiness Success Concept

This was a post from several years ago and is so much more relevant now:

Yesterday I was on a panel discussion at the ENR Groundbreaking Women in Construction Conference in New York.  It was a great experience for me.  A couple of things that really stuck out:

1.  This was the first time EVER that I was in the minority.  And I mean THE MINORITY!  There were probably five men there out of 300 attendees.  It was a very different feeling.  I never felt out-of-place really, but I did feel outnumbered.  It was a little intimidating.  I finally felt what it must be like for women and minorities at a normal construction conference filled with mostly middle-aged, white men.

2.  I experienced bathroom discrimination for the first time.  I say that with tongue planted firmly in my cheek.  How many times do we men sail in and out of the bathroom at intermission or the seventh inning stretch while the line at the women’s bathroom snakes around the corner for miles?  There were so many women and so few men that they actually put a sign over the men’s restroom that said “WOMEN ONLY”.  I had to go down two floors to use the bathroom.  What a shift in perspective.  Women probably get really frustrated by those long lines and think to themselves, “When are the mostly male architects going to wake up and put in twice as many stalls in the women’s bathrooms?”

3.  Women interact differently than men, at least in construction and engineering.  Men will gather and greet with a cool and somewhat forced confidence.  The interactions are low-key and low energy and the topic of conversation is mostly about business.  When a large group of women interact, the energy is amazing!  It is palpable.  The room is buzzing!  They are animated and talking and exchanging business cards and discussing lots of different things, including non-business topics.

4.  Women have some of the same issues as men.  There are some difference such as childcare that are quite different for men and women, but what I took away was that the skills for a woman to be successful in the construction industry are exactly the same skills that men need.  It’s just in a different context and should be taught in a slightly different way to address their specific needs.  Leadership, presence, self-awareness, and emotional intelligence skills are at least a part of those success factors.  Individuals will likely just be working on different areas.

I look forward to more of these kinds of conferences and hope that other industry organizations will reach out and invite this group to the table.  They deserve a seat at that table.

Check out my ENR Viewpoint article on diversity:

CLICK HERE

Also, I am in the process of finishing up my latest online course on diversity and inclusion as part of the Total Leadership Library. Click here for more information on that.

 


Innovate or Die!

May 28, 2015

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Albert Einstein

 

Albert Einstein was a pretty smart guy.  And HE said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”  He told an interviewer that he came up with the Theory of Relativity by imagining himself riding on a beam of light.  In this highly competitive market, companies must innovate or they may not be around much longer.  Does your competition suck?  Probably not.  Can you win projects and market share on your expertise and resume alone?  That may have been true 10 or 20 years ago.  But not today.

Think about it.  The only two things you have that differentiates you from your competition is your people and innovation.  I talked in previous blogs about paying attention to companies that are thriving in this economy.  Google, Apple, Zappos, and Cisco all invest a lot of  time and energy on two things:  1.  Making sure that their people are engaged and excited about what they are doing.  and 2.  Creating an atmosphere of innovation.

How do they do this?  The first thing is to pay attention to the needs of the employees.  They continuously talk to employees about how they appreciate what they do.  Managers walk around and interact and get to know the employees and their passions, likes, dislikes, and motivations.  Secondly, they create a climate where innovation is rewarded.  There are no bad ideas.  Everything is considered.  They don’t negate new ideas.  They embrace everything as a possibility and discuss the options.  They create an environment where people can come together formally and informally to share ideas and thoughts on how business is done and how to make it better.   Employees are taught to silence that inner critic and managers are taught to say “yes, and” and “thank you”  instead of “no, but” and “we tried that before in 1980 and it didn’t work.”

What is the atmosphere at your company?  Is it open to new ideas and innovation?  We all must think very differently to survive.  Early designers of flying machines used movable wings because it emulated a bird in flight.  But it wasn’t until the paradigm was shifted with fixed wing aircraft that manned flight became possible.  There are artificial hearts that emulate a real heart with chambers and a flow of blood that causes a heartbeat.  But the latest innovation in that arena is an artificial heart with continuous flow.  There is no beat.  It is a simple pump that continuously flows the blood through your body.  This paradigm shift is leading to very efficient and simple artificial hearts.  But it took someone to look at the way things were being done and say, “What if?”

What is your expertise?  What are your people’s talents?  How can you leverage that in a business setting to create new revenue streams?  Don’t think about how you’ve always done business.  Think about what value you and your people bring and see if that is applicable in other areas.  Get a group discussion going and brainstorm this concept.  You never know where it will lead.


Things I Learned at the Groundbreaking Women in Construction Conference

May 7, 2015

Celebration Community Cheerful Happiness Success Concept

“Strength lies in differences, not in similarities” ― Stephen R. Covey

 

Yesterday I was on a panel discussion at the ENR Groundbreaking Women in Construction Conference in New York.  It was a great experience for me.  A couple of things that really stuck out:

1.  This was the first time EVER that I was in the minority.  And I mean THE MINORITY!  There were probably five men there out of 300 attendees.  It was a very different feeling.  I never felt out-of-place really, but I did feel outnumbered.  It was a little intimidating.  I finally felt what it must be like for women and minorities at a normal construction conference filled with mostly middle-aged, white men.

2.  I experienced bathroom discrimination for the first time.  I say that with tongue planted firmly in my cheek.  How many times do we men sail in and out of the bathroom at intermission or the seventh inning stress while the line at the women’s bathroom snakes around the corner for miles?  There were so many women and so few men that they actually put a sign over the men’s restroom that said “WOMEN ONLY”.  I had to go down two floors to use the bathroom.  What a shift in perspective.  Women probably get really frustrated by those long lines and think to themselves, “When are the mostly male architects going to wake up and put in twice as many stalls in the women’s bathrooms?”

3.  Women interact differently than men, at least in construction and engineering.  Men will gather and greet with a cool confidence.  The interactions are low-key and low energy and the topic of conversation is mostly about business.  When a large group of women interact, the energy is amazing!  It is palpable.  The room is buzzing!  They are animated and talking and exchanging business cards and discussing lots of different things, including non-business topics.

4.  Women have some of the same issues as men.  There are some difference such as childcare that are quite different for men and women, but what I took away was that the skills for a woman to be successful in the construction industry are exactly the same skills that men need.  It’s just in a different context and should be taught in a slightly different way to address their specific needs.  Leadership, presence, self-awareness, and emotional intelligence skills are at least a part of those success factors.  Individuals will likely just be working on different areas.

I look forward to more of these kinds of conferences and hope that other industry organizations will reach out and invite this group to the table.  They deserve a seat at that table.

Check out my ENR Viewpoint article on diversity:

CLICK HERE

 


Why Your Construction Projects Suck and How to Un-Suck Them

January 15, 2015

Group of workers at a construction

“Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them.” Paul Hawken

 

I’ve been around construction my entire life and this is my 13th year in business teaching the skills that actually make people and projects better.  And the three biggest mistakes that are made on most projects:

1.  Not enough planning.  You know the drill.  There is a budget crunch.  There is a lending timeline.  There is an opening or launch deadline.  The architects and designers have not had the proper time or budget to adequately design so the owner puts a clause in the contractor’s performance based contract that tells them that they must “coordinate” everything and “make everything work properly”.  That additional risk is passed down to subcontractors.  All of this risk is mitigated usually through higher costs. In addition, there is a lot of re-work and re-design and quality and productivity suffer greatly.  So, the owners, in an effort to cut costs, have actually added to them.  And the end product has much lower quality.  It’s a terrible way to start a project and usually portends a total disaster for ALL parties that will end up in court. Collaborative planning way ahead of anything happening on site is the key here.  Everyone has input into the process and many problems are solved ahead of time.  It is much better to use more collaborative design methods like Lean, IPD or Design Assist, or Design Build.

2.  Not enough focus on relationships and trust in the beginning:  A project is like a forced marriage, only there is no option for a divorce.  We throw people together in a very intimate, very demanding situation and expect a high level of performance.  It’s okay to have an arranged marriage, but you have to do some homework and lay some groundwork for a successful partnership.  This has to be deliberate, well thought out, and reinforced over the life of the project.  There must be a focus on maintaining the relationship first.  Then, the other issues that always come up will be more easily managed.  You must develop the trust early on.  We have a program called Beyond Partnering:   Here is  a link to that blog:  http://wp.me/p1JXuE-g3 .  This blog discusses this issue in more detail and gives you a step-by-step method to ensure that this relationship and trust part of the project is successful. Everyone is working on their own personal and professional goals while the group works toward project goals.  There is cross functional accountability.  You build your people while you build the project.  You also offer classes that address specific project issues (teamwork, communication, collaboration, stress management, time management) head on and relate those back to everyone’s individual and collective plans.

3.  Not enough focus on collaborative problem solving:  Most projects are set up by all parties to mitigate their risk.  So it is in everyone’s best interest to blame others for any problems.  They search the contract trying to find a way to make someone else responsible.  Again, collaborative project delivery methods like Lean, IPD or Design Assist, or Design Build are keys to this team approach to construction projects.  That way, everyone is pitching in to find the best solution together.  There is much less finger pointing and much more problem solving.  The result is a much better project for everyone.

If you want to make your next project more successful, take a look at these three areas. And if you need any help with any of these, let me know.

 


The Miracle Workers of Construction

April 24, 2014

construction

 

Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting some projects of one of my very favorite clients, and I have to say, it was a moving experience.  When I was a kid, my dad would take me and my three brothers to his projects.  I was wide-eyed and full of wonder at this miracle of construction.  Yes.  I said miracle.  It is a miracle.  Think about it.  There is no process on earth as complicated as a construction project.  The space shuttle isn’t as complicated as most construction projects.  There are a million parts and pieces with so many human beings putting their mark on it.  It’s amazing that anything gets built.  But it does, thanks to the hard work and dedication of the workers that actually put everything together.

They are the unsung heroes of the industry.  Many of them are struggling with finances, with workloads that limit time with their families, with health issues.  This very tough business has beaten them down physically over the years.  But there they are.  They show up every day.  They do their jobs without complaint.  They perform the day-to-day miracles that propel their projects toward completion.  I visited a particularly difficult retail project with an impossible completion schedule and little or no details on dozens of different rooms with completely different finishes.  As one Superintendent put it, “Well, here we are, pulling another rabbit out of the hat.”  And they did complete the project in time for the retailer to open.  Another magic trick executed to perfection.  Another miracle.  And when I point this out, they don’t see it as miraculous.  They are very humble about what they do.  They get so caught up in the day-to-day work, and they are so good at it, they don’t see it as extraordinary.  But I want all of you workers to know that what you do IS extraordinary.

So this blog is a salute to these unsung heroes and their families who have sacrificed so much.  You have my admiration and respect.  And if there is anything I can do to help you or any cause that you have, I’m here.  Please contact me and let me know what I can do.