Constructech Magazine, September 2011

Successfully Integrating Gen-Y and Millennials into Your Organization by Choosing Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) as Your Culture

By Darren Smith

We’ve all heard it from our colleagues. “Those recent college graduates expect to be given a shot at the CEO’s chair within five years. Gen Y and Millennial team members think they know everything.”

Is that really what Gen Y and Millennials are communicating? Maybe we should think deeper about this…. Maybe they only want their intuition acknowledged and to be included in collaborative efforts.

Consider this:

Gen Y is the first generation to grow-up sharing files, video games and knowledge… their mindset is collaborative. Their mindset is “we” instead of “me.” This shift in mindset is well portrayed by how our relationship with automobiles has evolved in just the last decade:

– Car ownership (Baby Boomers and Gen X) – www.gm.com to

– Ride sharing (Gen-Y) – www.zimride.com to

– Car sharing (Millennials) – www.zipcar.com to

– Person to person car rental (The Next Generation) – www.whipcar.com

In addition, collaboration is not only the mindset of Gen-Y and Millennials, collaboration is the future of business (including architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) business). IPD is a collaborative behavior standard. Choosing IPD as your culture helps you successfully integrate Gen-Y and Millennials into your organization as well as evolve the way your organization does business. IPD is “how” AEC organizations can collaborate and evolve.

If we are going to use IPD to support collaboration in our organizations, then we need to define IPD and how it can help us.

What an IPD Culture Is and Is Not

What an IPD Culture is:

– Mindset – we all wear the same uniform. We are all on the same team.

What an IPD Culture is Not:

– It is not LEAN – LEAN is about deleting wasted movement from a work process. For example, when swimming (freestyle), you could turn your head as far as possible out of the water to take a breath. Another option is to only turn your head slightly until your lips are just above the water line to take the same breath. Choosing the second option deletes wasted movement from the process of taking a breath while swimming freestyle.

– It is not Partnering – In partnering, the best interest of the project is not the focus. The focus is on the interests of the members of the partnership. These are two completely different focuses.

– It is not “what you’ve been doing for the last 20+ years.” There are many organizations that have IPD behaviors scattered around inside their culture anecdotally, but not in an organized manner captured on a piece of paper. If an organization’s culture is based on IPD, then those behaviors need to be on paper, or it’s not real.

How IPD can help integrate Gen-Y and Millennials as well as other generations present or yet to come:

• First, install channels for collaboration. Here are a three ideas:

– Know Everyone’s Personality Type – this is a basic idea that works and always will work with every person in the organization. You don’t have to be perfect. You just need additional success collaborating with those around you. Knowing personality types and how to work more effectively with each other to win a few extra “yeses” goes a long way.

– Know How Your People Feel Appreciated – not everyone likes a thoughtful gift. Some prefer words of encouragement, a caring handshake, a helping hand or some quality time together. You may have thought a gift card was the perfect way to acknowledge someone for the extra effort on the last project. In reality, that person may have found more value in a breakfast meeting, during which you discuss their professional development and deliver feedback.

– Know What Type of Communication Works – examples are monthly reflection surveys, annual town hall meetings and shared learning from previous projects.

• Next, introduce IPD behavior standards. Behavior standards include:

– Powerful Questions – they are the fuel of meaningful conversations. Questions help you talk with someone instead of at someone. Questions project a conversation on the other person, which is always positive. Everyone’s favorite radio station is WIFM radio (what’s in it for me) and they never tire of it. The more questions we ask, the more the other person hears their own voice and the more we learn. When we make statements, the focus is on ourselves and we hear things we already know.

– Listening – Here’s a quick listening tool kit – 1. Echo listening, 2. Reflective listening, 3. “Tell me more” listening and 4. Turnaround listening. Echo listening is repeating the last few words of what the other person just said and nodding your head for them to continue. Reflective listening is refraining from saying anything as to avoid interrupting the other person. “Tell me more listening” is using this phrase to prompt the other person to continue talking once they have come to a natural stopping point. Turnaround listening is redirecting the onus to speak. Someone invites you to speak first and you graciously ask them to go first using the same words they used to invite you.

– Coaching Skills – Follow a coaching model in your conversations when appropriate – establish an objective for a conversation, co-create a strategy to reach the objective, identify obstacles to reach the objective (and what needs to be done to remove them) and create helpful accountability’s to support movement forward towards the objective.

– Skill with People – after food and water, what people CRAVE the most is respect. Skill with People creates ample respect. Learning how to set tone, critique and win more “yeses” are three examples of IPD behaviors in an IPD tool kit of standards. These behaviors are easy to incorporate and can become as natural as breathing (with some practice). Similar to learning how to ride a bike, you learn how to reach an IPD behavior standard and you never forget.

In closing, everyone agrees it takes more to compete and win in business today than a few years ago. Competition used to be you and your idea against the other person and their idea. That’s not good enough anymore. Now, you must combine your idea with the ideas of others (including Gen-Y and Millennials) to beat the other person and their idea. That collaboration between team members in different parts of your organization as well as different generations is now a necessity.

Choose IPD as Your Culture, Not Just One of Your Delivery Methods.

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