Welcome to 2014. I certainly hope you had an amazing holiday season filled with quality family time. Despite a hectic travel schedule thanks to my family spread throughout the nation, I had a wonderful end of 2013.
My holiday season included stops to Washington D.C., southern New Jersey, Milwaukee and a visit from our Michigan-based family. The coup de gras was a peaceful New Year’s Eve with my wife on the couch watching movies.
By the time you crack open our first edition of pme in 2014, you’ll be in the throes of new meetings, projects and industry tradeshows such as the AHR Expo in New York City or the now co-located KBIS and International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas. But, there are other important issues to think about.
A November report from construction industry consulting firm FMI forecasts a slight growth in the commercial markets in 2014 especially due to the growth of construction put in place for the health-care and manufacturing industries. The report also tackles the subject of succession planning and the need to replace retiring workers. It states, “With baby boomers continuing to retire, succession planning and a search for talent remains one of the industry’s primary challenges.”
In the report, more than 50% of respondents say a dearth of skilled labor will cause an arms race for talent in 2014. In addition, more than 75% of those surveyed say they’re planning for a leadership transition. The report states those transitions will come in three different ways: promoting internally, training to improve performance and providing internship and co-op programs.
Also, more than half surveyed say they are identifying gaps in core competencies, increasing recruitment efforts at schools and universities and employing “best practices” to hold onto the best talent.
When I worked on pme’s sister publication, Supply House Times, the topic of succession planning was very top-of-mind, and still is. Many wholesale companies are family businesses that have been in business for multiple generations. It’s a point of pride for those companies, as it should be.
If family tree succession plan isn’t in the cards for your engineering firm, you must start preparing for the next wave of leadership.
Throughout my career, I’ve witnessed several workplace power transitions. It’s critical that the new leader has a strong understanding of the work atmosphere he or she is entering. One of the newspapers I previously worked at would shuffle publishers around its territories every few years. For the employees it was a shock to the system when the change was made.
We would get comfortable and have a strong understanding of what our leader expected and then, almost without warning, he was moved to the Pacific Northwest and in came a publisher from Hawaii. The personalities between the two leaders couldn’t have been more different, which led to an awkward feeling-out period. To boot, this was in the midst of the Great Recession when jobs were being shed at a clip that had everyone’s nerves on edge.
Engineering firms, particularly the major ones that employ many people, need to create plans for seamless changes in power. If there is a misstep, the domino effect may end up being devastating.
I know we’re past New Year’s, but I won’t tell if you add this to your resolutions.