How to Develop Well Rounded Project Engineers

How to Develop Well Rounded Construction Pros

We are all familiar with how the military uses the principle of “tours of duty.”
A soldier will rotate from one commander to another, spend time at the front lines, logistics, and technical areas to build their competencies and experiences. Do you know how to use this principle in your company to develop talent?

Think about your Project Engineers (PEs). They should get experience with different project managers, superintendents, and estimators to be well rounded. Doing this, they’ll build their skill sets working in the field, with clients and project partners, and winning work.

When your Project Managers (PMs) have a PE rotating to them, they need to understand their strengths and weaknesses. Have them do a “handoff meeting” with the PE’s previous PM.

In that meeting, they should ask three questions:

  1. Is this person an indoor or outdoor cat?
  2. What are their technical strengths and weaknesses?
  3. How do they handle difficult conversations?

First, is this person an indoor or outdoor cat?
Our cat started as an outdoor cat, but she spends more time indoors as she’s gotten older. Does the PE like to be in the office, in front of their computer looking at plans and specs, identifying openings for improvement? Or do they prefer to go out into the field, get their boots muddy with the foreman or the superintendent, and work the project’s problems?

Next, what are their technical strengths and weaknesses?
Do they understand the plans and scope, grasp what they (and others) are responsible for, and see profit opportunities? Do they see obstacles and challenges when they walk out on the job site? Or are they unsure of themselves?

Finally, how does the PE handle difficult conversations?
Throughout a construction project, conflict is inevitable. The PE has to learn how to work through them. They need to be comfortable negotiating the owner’s demands and stay on course while maintaining relationships with the field, the office, suppliers, and project partners. When a PE has a situation where they have to step up, do they fight, flee, or waffle? Or, are they cool, calm, and collected?

After this meeting, the PM will have a better understanding of their new PE.
Have them meet with the PE and map out how they are going to continue to progress. You never know, they could be helping a future “Commander in Chief” of your company grow and develop.

Here’s a tool that your PMs can use to develop their PEs: 90 Day High-Performance Dashboard

The dashboard covers five areas:

  • Rally Cry: What is the one thing you must accomplish in your role in the next 90 days to be able to say, with any credibility, “I had a good quarter!”?
  • Initiatives: What are the most critical initiatives that will drive the achievement of your Rally Cry? Where should you focus your time? List the three that should account for the majority of your focus.
  • Performance metrics: What are the decisive performance metrics that define the success of your Rally Cry, the execution of your initiatives, and overall success for you and your area of responsibility?
  • Relationships: Who are the most important people who are critical to helping you achieve your Rally Cry? Be sure to consider relationships up, down, across, and outside the organization.
  • Development opportunities: What are the experiences, assignments, skills, educational opportunities, and other professional development opportunities that will advance your ability to achieve your Rally Cry and lead your area of responsibility? What behaviors and attitudes do you know you can build on, start doing, do less, or eliminate?

To get a copy of the dashboard, click this link.

The download outlines, step by step, how to use the dashboard. Your PMs and PEs will find it extremely useful.