Editor's Report

By Aram Kalousdian | September 28, 2010

Mentoring Combats Shrinking Talent Pool

The architectural/engineering industry is in the mist of a talent war. In order for firms to be successful and continue to grow, they must take an aggressive approach to recruitment and retention. Stepping up training and development programs is an effective strategy firms can employ to retain current star employees and attract new hires. In ZweigWhite's 2006 Training and Development Survey of Architecture, Engineering, Planning & Environmental Consulting Firms, firm principals continuously rated the importance of training high on their list of priorities.

"From a recruiting and retention perspective, top employees are looking for continuing growth and development opportunities. They want the firm to take a role in setting them up to be successful, and if they don't feel the company supports their career development, they are likely to look elsewhere," Lori Oakes-Coyne, principal with ZweigWhite's Human Resources Advisory Services group, said. One successful training and development method being applied across architectural/engineering firms is the mentoring program. Below are tips for creating and implementing an effective mentoring program at an architectural/engineering firm.

  • Establish purpose and goals — Set goals and establish the purpose of the mentoring program to ensure that it is aligned with the firm's strategic plan.
  • Designate a facilitator — This is the person who will ultimately monitor and evaluate the program. They will communicate regularly with the mentors and the mentored, individually and collectively, to address any issues or concerns.
  • Design the mentoring structure — When structuring a mentoring program, it is important to determine the who, where, what, and how of the program.
  • Identify mentors and the mentored — This is the most crucial step of the process, and it is important to determine the selection criteria during this phase. Mentors are usually the most experienced and possibly senior managers, while the mentored must fit with the goals of the program.
  • Maximize "click" potential — When pairing the respective mentors and mentored, exercise careful consideration in matching the participants with similar personalities, professional backgrounds and career ambitions.
  • Foster ongoing relationships — To maximize a more collective and nurturing mentoring environment, encourage the facilitator to organize an informal meeting with the mentors to discuss concerns, ideas and opinions on the mentoring program.
  • Evaluate your program — Lastly, prepare an evaluation report or performance plan for the mentoring program. Armed with this feedback, the facilitator can present a complete evaluation on the effectiveness of the program and how to improve it.

ZweigWhite is a source of management consulting, information and education for the design and construction industry.

For further information, contact: Caren Tortorici. E-mail: ctortorici@zweigwhite.com. Address: ZweigWhite, One Apple Hill Drive, Suite 2 Natick, MA 01760. Phone: (508) 651-1559. Fax: (508) 653-6522. Web: www.zweigwhite.com.

FieldManager Software Saves MDOT Money

The Michigan Department of Transportation's (MDOT) innovative FieldManager, a suite of software that manages, processes and tracks Michigan's road, bridge and airport construction programs, is estimated to save the state $28.5 million annually in reduced hands-on time, according to a recent survey.

The development of FieldManager for managing infrastructure projects has streamlined construction management operations and transformed the industry.

MDOT launched FieldManager in 1999 with the help of Info Tech, Inc., a Gainesville, Fla., software company. The software enabled the department to eliminate a time-consuming, manual process for managing construction. Today, the software is used by 3,000 employees at MDOT facilities, local government agencies, engineering consultant firms, and construction contractor firms in Michigan. Recognized as a nationwide leader in construction management, FieldManager also is used by the Iowa, Wisconsin and Maine departments of transportation.

"FieldManager has proven to be a prime example of how public/private partnerships can reduce costs to taxpayers and increase government efficiency," said Governor Jennifer M. Granholm.

"FieldManager handles our $1.5-billion annual construction program," said State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle. "It is consistent with the department's goal of putting more of our state transportation dollars into preserving our roads, and less into administrative overhead."