Bridging the Leadership Innovation Gap: Using technology, peer groups and more to maintain a long-lasting company

By Jared Christman | Sep 11, 2023 / Blue Planet Studio / anon
The technological revolution in the electrical construction industry is constant. The proposed innovative solutions from software and hardware companies keep coming. 




The technological revolution in the electrical construction industry is constant. The proposed innovative solutions from software and hardware companies keep coming. There always seems to be some new gadget to fill workflow gaps, but as a company, how are you to decipher what is or is not useful? The bigger question is, once you do find the good technology, how do you implement it? Well, if you are close to retirement, this may be a very daunting question. Add to the mix that you are trying to coach future leaders to take over the legacy you are stepping away from, and the pressure grows exponentially.

Compared to the constant pace of technology advancement, there is little change in company leadership. You will see a single leadership structure go through multiple technology phases, and existing leadership may still use outdated tools and devices such as Rolodexes, flip phones or large-format plotters and scanners. While some of these phases are successful and others only had a short-term effect, it is useful for younger generations to acknowledge how groundbreaking they were when they arrived. They shaped the technology we use today. 

Technology use among generations

For older generations, it is important to appreciate how familiar the incoming generation is with technology. It seems to be almost second nature. How many times have you stepped back and watched a child using an iPhone, and said to yourself, “Wow, that is impressive”? The upcoming generation has been raised with technology readily available, in school and at home. Moreover, they know how to use the latest tech to solve problems. Need to find a movie time? Google it. Want to pay back a friend for the popcorn? Use a money-sending app.

In the industry, this attitude toward problem­-solving can be to your advantage. The newest generation in the field—with fresh eyes and technological ease—may be able to evaluate old problems and provide new solutions through unique views. Their perspective and affinity for technology will result in innovative solutions. 

As an industry, we are witnessing a transition in leadership as seasoned leaders retire and pave the way for the next generation. Even among field personnel, retirement is on the horizon for many, and as a result, they may be less inclined to embrace and adapt to new technological advancements. A strategy to overcome this is to pair up younger, more technologically savvy field personnel with those who have a little more age and experience so they can exchange knowledge. The younger field personnel can teach the technology to the more experienced foreman, while the foreman relays trade knowledge to the younger personnel. Combining technological competence with age-old trade principles will result in a workforce that can fill the shoes of the retiring generation. 

In the office, too, consider the development of a leadership succession plan and incorporating technology, which will be a significant portion of the transition. Build a timeline with notable milestones and communicate when and how the transfer of ownership will be implemented. Find the right people and put them in suitable positions to prepare them for future leadership. 

You might also consider:

  • Prioritizing innovation for your future leaders with a strong focus on technology
  • Understanding the importance of equipping emerging leaders with the skills and knowledge to leverage technology 
  • Using peer groups and programs to provide comprehensive training and development opportunities to give future leaders the ability to embrace and drive innovation
  • Establishing cross-generational teams or mentorship programs where employees can trade knowledge and expertise. Working together enables a transfer of knowledge, promotes teamwork and helps bridge the generation gap. 

Attracting future leaders

Once you have identified and started training your future leaders, how do you plan to retain them in this competitive labor market?

Consider implementing comprehensive professional development programs that address the specific needs and aspirations of younger employees. Offer training that focuses on construction technology, allowing workers to strengthen and grow their digital skills. Provide access to industry conferences, workshops and webinars on emerging construction technologies. By investing in and nurturing the growth and development of your talent, you show commitment to their professional growth.

Show you value innovation

Encourage employees to contribute ideas through platforms such as innovation labs or process-improvement spreadsheets. In doing this, employees can propose and experiment with new technologies and process improvements. Recognize and reward innovation, regardless of the source, to motivate and engage workers. 

By fostering an environment that values and supports innovation, you attract and retain employees eager to contribute to the company’s technological advancement and use their unique ideas to advance the company. This helps them feel a sense of contribution, involvement and pride that they were directly responsible for something that improved the company’s workflow.

In this competitive job market, it is crucial to successfully draw in and maintain the employees’ interest. Some have the potential to become your future leaders, so it is important to ensure that compensation packages are in line with industry standards. 

Additionally, it is wise to provide supplementary benefits that speak to the modern workforce’s needs. Some options to consider include flexible work arrangements, remote work opportunities and comprehensive health and wellness programs that prioritize physical and mental health. 

By showing a genuine commitment to employees’ well-being and professional growth, organizations can foster a pool of promising future leaders and build a more solid and successful foundation for the whole company.

When incorporating new technologies, you must accept and accommodate the rate of advancement in the industry. 

Embrace a proactive mindset 

With the amount of new technology being introduced to contractors, it is easy to throw your hands up in frustration and do nothing. But failing to constantly improve and innovate can lead to falling behind competitors—often without realizing until it is too late. Embracing a proactive mindset, taking calculated risks and not being afraid to fail prevents stagnation and opens doors to invaluable lessons and breakthroughs. 

Recognize that some of the greatest advancements arise from the biggest failures, and find leaders who can foster a culture of innovation and seize opportunities for technology to be incorporated into the company. These could be the factors that decide which companies will survive into the next generation. 

Some examples of available technologies that are transforming our industry particularly in terms of production and accuracy are building information modeling (BIM), augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) and reality capture or point cloud scanning technologies.

BIM enables enhanced collaboration and coordination among project stakeholders, leading to streamlined production processes and reduced electrical system design and installation errors. AR/VR technologies provide immersive experiences, allowing electricians to visualize and interact with electrical components, improving accuracy during assembly and installation. / ztony1971

By showing a genuine commitment to employees’ well-being and professional growth, organizations can foster a successful foundation for the whole company. 

Reality capture point cloud scanning techniques enable precise as-built documentation and assist in clash detection, ensuring accurate placement of electrical systems within the construction environment. These technologies optimize production workflows, increase accuracy and minimize rework, ultimately improving the efficiency and quality of electrical construction projects.

Prioritize training

The electrical construction industry is witnessing a lot of change. It is natural to feel apprehension amid them. However, providing a strong foundation for future leaders can help them innovate and develop unique workflows that inspire confidence and trust. Experienced leaders can gradually integrate these advancements with the help of younger potential leaders and ease the stress of change. 

By prioritizing technology and innovation in leadership succession plans and providing educational opportunities outside the company, you can equip the next generation of leaders with the skills required to drive innovation. And if your company can stay on the cutting edge with technological advancements and foster a culture of innovation, it will thrive. Succession is a challenging task, but having future leaders prepared to take on the technology aspect of this change can ease the transition for the entire company.

About The Author

Christman is the owner of BIMCAD Solutions, which specializes in implementing technology to electrical contractor workflows, including BIM training and digital office to field communication. He can be reached at [email protected].





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