4 Takeaways from the ACEC Emerging Leaders Program

Posted on Wednesday, November 20th, 2019 by
In Industry Trends, tagged in
acec ks emerging leaders program

Over the last several months, I have participated in the ACEC Kansas Emerging Leaders Program. It was designed to impart specific skills and competencies, identified by Kansas firm principals, that are critical for leadership success. The sessions began in September, and from each one, I’ve gathered a number of key takeaways. Below are the most compelling:

It is extremely challenging to find additional quality engineering talent. The market is very competitive. Compared to the past, companies are taking extraordinary measures to attract candidates. Some of these include paying for college or student loans, offering greater flexibility and support for nontraditional work locations, and a variety of work/life balance accommodations, like fitness centers, ping pong, and pool tables.

Another popular retention tool doesn’t cost a thing. Companies are increasing communication to continually provide feedback and demonstrate appreciation.

Everyone has the ability to influence state and local elected officials. Get to know those who represent you. Don’t be afraid to meet with them. You are their constituent. Generally, that’s enough to secure a conversation over a cup of coffee.

At the meeting, express interest in the public service role they have assumed. Share your background/capabilities and offer to be a resource to them when issues come up that are in your wheelhouse. Then, establish and maintain a relationship that encourages them to see you as a knowledgeable and valuable source of information that can enhance their ability to make informed decisions.

Contract language continues to evolve. It’s hard to beat hard copy plans and specifications when trying to ensure project partners are receiving and working with the complete and most current version of contract documents. Those responsible for the preparation of professional services contracts continue to struggle with language to sufficiently and appropriately address transfer, storage, and use of electronic documents. As electronic documents become more accepted and methods of storage and transfer continue to grow, this will continue to be a challenge, demanding attention and resources to mitigate risk. It’s difficult to get a handle on this emerging and constantly moving target.

Active listening skills can be used to effectively address frustration and conflict in human resources and management. A current hostage negotiator provided insight using authentic, skills-based techniques and real-world stories to demonstrate the art of listening. Inviting a story can increase the effectiveness of our communications and success in all aspects of our lives.

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These are just small examples of the information I’ve learned from the Emerging Leaders Program. Through it, I’ve gained insight from not only the sessions, but also my nineteen classmates. Collectively our expertise covers nearly every aspect of any potential civil engineering project. These relationships will prove valuable throughout our careers.

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