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Five Objectives for Construction Leaders Before Retirement

There are five critical objectives construction leaders should prepare for five to 10 years before retirement if they want to finish strong and create momentum in the company that will extend for generations.
By Pamela A. Scott
April 6, 2021
Topics
Workforce

Approximately 41% of the current construction workforce—including many people in executive leadership roles—will retire by 2031, according to the NCCER. By 2030, all Baby Boomers will be 65 or older, as reported by the United States Census Bureau. What legacy will they leave behind in the construction industry? How will the industry retain their knowledge? What do these leaders need to do to prepare the next generation?

Unlike technology and equipment that can be purchased immediately, leadership development only happens over time. There is no two-day shipping option for great leaders. In best case scenarios, it takes a minimum of three years to prepare next-gen leaders for executive roles, but can require more than five years in many cases. Developing professionals who just entered the industry into leaders who can replace current executives takes 10-20 years of experience and training.

So what should construction leaders focus on in the five to 10 years before retirement to ensure a successful handoff to next-gen leaders? While each organization is unique, there are five critical objectives for construction leaders who want to finish strong and create momentum within their company that will extend for generations.

1. Determine what C-suite roles need to be filled

Before deciding on who will replace them, construction leaders need to determine what C-suite roles need to be filled. Are there existing executive roles that will no longer be needed in the future? It is a waste of resources to groom next-gen leaders for obsolete roles. Are there new roles that do not yet exist within the company that will be necessary in the future? Leaders who start preparing for those roles now set their company up for long-term future success.

2. Determine what skills are needed to fill C-suite roles

Once C-suite roles are identified, the next step is for leaders to determine what skills are needed to fill those roles. What skills are currently needed? What skills will be needed in the future? Detailing what each C-suite role requires makes it possible to determine what skills the next-gen needs.

3. Identify next-gen leaders

After determining what C-suite roles need to be filled and what skills are needed to fill those roles, construction leaders are ready to select employees to develop. Succession plans are a strategy for developing specific people. A general idea of who might step up to fill a role is not enough. It is only when a leader identifies who to prepare for leadership that actual development can begin. Communicating the succession plan to next-gen leaders is also key. A succession plan is meaningless if the person who is being developed doesn’t want the role.

4. Identify skill gaps of next-gen leaders

Identifying the next generation of leaders is important, but it is not the final step. The next step is for construction leaders to determine what skill gaps exist. What are the skill sets of next-gen leaders and how does that compare to what they will need to run the company? There is a large knowledge gap between managing individual departments of a business and leading an entire company. Next-gen leaders need to know about strategy, operations, recruiting, retention and business development. Next-gen leaders also need to be trained in leadership, communication and people management. Highly prized skills for executive leaders also include asking good questions, planning engaging meetings, and giving meaningful feedback. These are critical areas for the next generation to understand before taking the helm.

5. Set up a process for knowledge transfer

What knowledge will the industry lose when current construction leaders leave the industry? The answer is all of it unless there is some form of knowledge transfer. Knowledge transfer does not happen overnight. Yet knowledge transfer often does not pop up on the radar until a leader is six months away from retiring. This leaves a team scrambling to collect data in a feat akin to chasing paper falling from a skyscraper. A better option is for leaders to establish procedures for knowledge transfer now. This includes documenting procedures in a repository years before leaders exit. A leader who does not transfer knowledge to the next generation is like a captain who leaves a ship in the middle of the ocean with the map in hand.

True leadership means preparing the next generation to lead. Leaders don’t bail. They finish strong.

by Pamela A. Scott
Pamela A. Scott is an executive coach and founder of MentorLoft, a coaching firm that works with CEOs and execs to prepare their NextGen leaders to run their company. Pamela specializes in coaching engineers and CEOs of professional service firms. She is also the author of Focused Feedback in 15. For more information, visit www.mentorloft.com.

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