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PCBC Ponderings

What an awesome week attending the PCBC conference! As I mull over the happenings, the main point of my discussions had a resounding theme – the talent shortage plaguing our industry. This is clearly not an earth shattering statement by any means but every now and then there is solace in knowing it’s not just you! While there is much to do to relieve the labor pressures, I am a huge believer in the innovative and passionate leaders who will continue to positively impact the builder world. There were 40 of these leader types honored during the Professional Builder Under 40 Executive Summit. Among the brilliant list of professionals, I am particularly extra proud of Aaron Roan of Inspired Homes and Kevin Oakley with Do You Convert. While Aaron and Kevin differ greatly in background and skill set expertise, each possess a compelling similarity – passion for the industry and a true interest in creating positive change in their personal and professional worlds.

 

I cannot imagine the first ever group of PCBC speakers, exhibitors and attendees could have fathomed how far along we are within today’s technology world. So much has evolved just within the last 10 years let alone 50+ years’ time lapse. Prior to the 2008 downturn there were no iPads, Siri, Uber or Airbnb and say it isn’t so – the selfie-stick! Tech-focused sales and marketing initiatives and strategies are an enormous factor in today’s business with company culture and branding (internal and external) having a significant impact on the bottom line. Much to absorb but thankfully the industry possesses many amazing gurus specializing within this emerging and ever-changing world to offer insight and ideas.

As the conference wrapped up and I headed back home I found myself feeling very thankful for the relationships formed over nearly 18 years and excited about those yet to come. You just cannot find better people than those in our industry!

#pcbc2018

Pay it Forward – Inspiring the Next Generation of Industry Talent

Originally posted by Erica Lockwood as a guest blogger on Meredith Consulting’s website, March 22, 2018.

As we emerge from last week’s “Women In Construction Week” along with the observance of “International Women’s Day”, it seems quite fitting to address not only the lack of female talent present within the industry today but certainly the overall people shortage being experienced across the country. It’s a real conversation that I have just about daily with industry leaders. Reality is this is not a situation that will change overnight. But, I believe it can be transformed with focus and intention.

Recent statistics have revealed that less than 15% of the total construction industry is made up of women. While a predominantly male dominated industry, I am a believer that with the right outreach and education, we could do much more to encourage young women to consider our industry as an exciting and viable career option. The opportunities are endless and having a concerted effort to make sure young women who are considering career possibilities hear this message is vital.

I have observed a recent trend within a handful of companies where women have been promoted into leadership roles. For example, Taylor Morrison Homes has impressed me with the career advancements and the openness to provide not only leadership roles but also entry level opportunities to women in the workforce. A recent post by Taylor Morrison stated, “women make up 49 percent of our workforce, 30 percent of our executive team and Taylor Morrison is the only publicly traded homebuilder led by a woman chairman and CEO.” Talk about inspiring women to see the possibilities! Way to go Sheryl Palmer for leading that vision!

I perceive mentoring opportunities as one of the most viable avenues for awareness and outreach. Local home builder associations are typically quite involved with a variety of educational outreach programs, for instance, Junior Achievement. This program creates opportunity for discussions geared toward elementary, junior high and high school students, creating interest and spurring curiosity. I encourage our industry to be keenly focused on education and mentorship of our future leaders – young men and women alike.

Although this week had much to celebrate it also felt a huge loss as we learned of Bill Pulte’s passing. Mr. Pulte was a mentor to so many. He inspired creativity, growth and vision to so many of today’s leading industry professionals along with some of the most forward-thinking and impactful entrepreneurs I know. If each one of us might consider paying it forward in honor of Bill Pulte, we may just reach some of tomorrow’s most amazing and creative men and women industry leaders. We can all make an impact – one young person at a time!

The Value of Industry Mentors

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Over the course of my executive recruiting career, I have heard countless stories related to the value of partnering with an industry mentor who provides insight, advice and feedback. I firmly believe high performing professionals in our industry have a key thing in common: there is zero tolerance for mediocrity and remaining in the safe and comfy “comfort zone”. One way to be certain that doesn’t occur is to seek out industry mentors or coaches who inspire, encourage and push personal and professional development. Partnering with the right mentor or “board of advisors” throughout the various stages of your career can make a significant impact to a professional who is coachable and an avid learner.

While some mentoring relationships happen quite naturally, the quest to identify the perfect mentor can take a bit more effort, but anything worth pursuing is rarely easy. If you have been considering seeking a mentor, here are a few thoughts for consideration:

1. “A real friend or mentor isn’t on your payroll” ~ Prince

Prince certainly had a bold but valid point in that statement. Although not always true, preferably great mentor relationships occur outside the workplace and friend zone in order to offer the most unbiased feedback and insight. A mentor who comes with no preconceived notions or thoughts can dig in and understand your needs and offer insight as to where improvements or strategy changes are needed. True growth demands the good, bad and the ugly be discussed and a mentor who desires to offer that can do so more easily if the sensitivity factor is a non-issue. After all, mentors are not meant to make one “happy”, but rather to guide to the best of their knowledge.

2. “One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination” ~ John C. Maxwell

Seeking a mentor who is respected with relevant industry experience is most productive. When considering who might fit that bill, a common mistake is going straight to the busiest, most recognized and visible mentors. This approach may work occasionally, but choosing key leaders within your industry and market might offer additional possibilities for those able to invest the time in a mentoring relationship. Consider identifying potential mentors who are functioning at a more senior level today but have been in your shoes and can easily relate to current experiences. It is with the real-life experiences – and let’s face it, mistakes – that a mentor pulls from and can offer sound advice and guidance.

3. “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” ~ John F. Kennedy

The ability to be 100% open and honest with a respected industry leader, who is fully committed to your personal and professional growth and success is both a unique and extremely treasured relationship. Great mentors see the overwhelming value because often they too were mentored early on and throughout their career and the experience received from that investment played a critical role in their success. Mentors see the value in directly influencing others, helping to harness unique talents and skills and even revisiting their own past lessons and hurdles. As Clint Eastwood wisely once said, “What I think the mentor gets is the great satisfaction of helping somebody along, helping somebody take advantage of an opportunity that maybe he or she did not have.”.

So, what are you waiting for? Start working toward a mentor relationship and better yet, become someone’s mentor and impart your wisdom and experiences to those who want to learn and develop. Mentoring makes a difference!

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

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A valid question asked at one point in time in our professional or personal lives. Or in some cases, just singing along in the car with The Clash on the way to office will suffice, no air guitar performances though, please! Safety first!

I enjoy music. All kinds of music. I grew up studying classical piano so naturally it is engrained in my DNA. Music and lyrics speak volumes and I find situations in my daily life end up with a lyrical reference to a song. Most of my staff conference calls include a song reference, it is just how I roll. Life is a song, so sing it, right?

So, should I stay or should I go? This is a daily discussion that I have with industry professionals at all experience levels. While the market continues to be robust, it brings about many career opportunities especially to those who are not actively looking to make a change. Common questions or concerns arise such as:

Why leave a position where you are happy and enjoy the company and culture?

“I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” – As only U2 can eloquently say this, it can be a poignant question or reflection for a professional posed with a career opportunity. Most people truly are happy with the company and the people with whom they work and that is a wonderful thing. When a truthfully amazing opportunity is presented it is a good time for a gut check. Have you found what you are looking for? Is it available in your current role or company? Check your career goal progress and know what you have available and how far out that may be if you stayed in your current role. What, if anything, is holding you back?

Is the position a lateral move or does it offer additional responsibilities? What is the title?

“The Times They Are A Changin” – Thanks to Bob Dylan for that reminder. Everything changes: organizational structures, divisional and regional layers added/removed, company ownership, to name a few. The changes occur due to company merger or acquisition, becoming a publicly traded organization, or succession planning within private companies. When considering another career option, it is wise to not focus alone on title but rather overall responsibilities and reporting structures and the type of organization. While a VP of Sales and Marketing title says a lot, the same position with a seemingly lesser title can be just as expansive and more. Does the position report to a divisional department head or directly to the President/CEO? One can often have more direct impact working side by side with the leader of an organization. Likewise, a lateral position move isn’t always a bad option especially with a company of much larger size where many opportunities for promotion and leadership experiences potentially exist. The key is to find out about the company, it’s culture and what the growth opportunities are within without making a blanket assumption that the roll is not of interest. You never know until you explore!

Counter offer? Sure, I’d consider that!

This one is a ringer for The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” or better yet, Chicago’s “If You Leave Me Now” could be even more ideal. In my nearly 19 years’ experience of executive search, one thing I do know is that Counter Offers can be a very bad gift wrapped up like a ring box from Tiffany’s. Sure it is pretty and it must be amazing inside, right?

When a company is faced with the resignation of a key employee it is almost a given some sort of counter offer to stay is presented. These offers typically provide a bump in base salary, additional bonus opportunities, or even a promise of promotion. Unfortunately, the acceptance of a counter offer can often lead to a less than positive outcome by lack of further career advancement or worse, termination – but on the company’s terms, not the candidate’s.

If someone would consider going all the way through the process and receive an offer, only to remain in their current role, the question really comes back full circle to those above.

Have you found what you are looking for? Are you where you want to be in your professional career trajectory? If not, consider confidentially speaking with an executive search specialist who can provide on target consulting and insight. You’ll never know until you pick up the phone and say – “Hello.” (Thanks, Adele.)

Written By: Erica Lockwood, Equity Partner