MEP Masterminds: Mentoring Across Generations & Skills
In the fourth installment of MEP Masterminds, David Francis, mastermind of the week, discussed the art and process of mentoring across generational divides. Mentoring may very well be the key to the AEC industry’s survival, and the knowledge we need can be shared from and with just about anyone we work with.
“I know it’s not a techie topic,” David began. “It doesn’t sound all flashy or cool like some things, but it’s actually key to our survival in our industry.” As a “big believer in sharing data both ways,” David added that he is passionate about mentoring. There are many ways, he said, to learn surface-level information. Books are “a great way to get information,” but experience is one of the best teachers. Unless you are able to “understand the innerworkings of your company… how and why people do their job a certain way, you’re not going to take advantage of the full technology.”
And to understand those innerworkings, David says that you can look a little deeper into projects to find the “story” within. “The whole thing about engineering and detailing is that you’re telling a story,” he said. “One of the biggest values of mentorship is to understand the history of why things are done and why they’re done a certain way.”
But some workers, he adds, are reticent to share the information and knowledge they have gathered. “They kind of hold the technology, and they kind of don’t want to share it because they think that’s why the company keeps them around,” he said. “Actually, that’s the complete opposite. When you share technology and knowledge, it reinforces your knowledge. If you share it with other people, they’re going to give you some insight or perspective that you might not have seen.” In this way, he adds, mentors can come in all shapes and forms—even in the form of a supposed student.
One way that David practiced mentorship in his business was by holding monthly meetings. “We talked about new tech and continued to share and get feedback from our team, and it just improved our company. The main thing is that you get a big group [together].”
“You really want to get knowledge where you can,” he added. Most companies do not have a mentoring program, so many workers are unaccustomed to giving and receiving important knowledge with coworkers. Truly, mentoring is an act of generosity and collaboration. Good mentors can come from within and without the industry, and moving past the fear of people seeing your weakness in order to share what you know is an extremely valuable step in the right direction. Not only can you find a mentor, but you can also be one yourself. “You’re going to get exposed to a lot of different opportunities to learn and just improve yourself,” David said. “That’s really what your ultimate goal is.”
Join in next week’s MEP Masterminds virtual event, “The Benefits and Trends of Offsite Prefabrication,” with MEP industry specialist Jason Barber. A recent SmartMarket report listed the types of projects for prefabrication include low-rise offices, commercial warehouses, public buildings, healthcare, retail stores and shopping, multi-family, college buildings, manufacturing, hotels, and schools. Prefab has caught on in a big way, and residential use is on the rise. Join us in this session to learn why, and take a look at how prefab buildings are becoming less expensive, greener and easier to build.
Sometimes even the smallest things can be the best teachers. Lessons learned come in many forms, for instance participating in the upcoming virtual MEP Force conference. Register for MEP Force today and take advantage of this opportunity to learn from your industry peers.
Thanks for reading! Check out the Bridging the Gap podcast interview with David here, and listen to an insightful podcast featuring Manufacton’s Jason Barber here.