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The cells of our body multiply or divide into two through the process of mitosis. Think about how white blood cells gather together to attack foreign substances in the body. They do so in a self-organized style that requires all to rely on one another to attack and rid the body of disease. Cells are able to recognize one another and develop a culture that is singularly focused on protecting the body. However, there are cancer cells that disguise themselves to hide from the immune system. These cancer cells also multiply at faster rates than those cells designed to stop them. Now, imagine all of these cells are the people that make up our organizations. How do we identify and influence the make up of people (cells)that make up our organizations?

Love. Care. Compassion. People.

Love, care, compassion and people: these are four words that rarely ever make the text of a blog dedicated to construction. These four words often make the construction industry feel uncomfortable. What is ironic is that these are the four words that unlock all things culture.

Hoots Disclaimer: These blog posts are going to be a bit more squishy than most, especially for a construction blog. This is important to note as we dive into the topic of culture and help the readers understand what, exactly, is culture.

If we do all things on the foundation of love, care, and compassion, we will establish a great culture for people. For Jen and Jess these topics come natural but for Hoots, not so much!

A lot like lean, culture plays into every thing that we do, say, and how we behave. If you are not intentional in developing your culture, then you’re being intentional about developing your culture. It may not be the culture that you and your team desire, but a culture is being formed. Both the leader of a company and the people that make up the company will steer the culture based on their personal values, ethics, and morals.

Every group of people has a culture. This blog’s authors and readers have a culture together. The important thing to understand is that leaders have a responsibility to design a meaningful culture. When leaders don’t own this responsibility then a chaotic culture will steal the joy from the people participating. If it’s not intentional then those who live in the moment will drown in the place of negativity. When the culture drives people to this place, the end result is splintered relationships that feel toxic. This is a never ending vicious cycle until recognized, acknowledged and addressed. It takes intention and effort to help employees understand the impact of their work and connect them to their professional purpose. Again, if it’s not intentional, it’s intentional.

Our goal with this blog is to drive a transparent conversation and to lead by example in promoting trust, vulnerability, conditions and affirmations while being emotionally responsive.

Over the years, the construction industry has not focused on developing culture; therefore the industry often suffers from negative stereotypes and a limited understanding of what a career in the industry could look like. As the authors of this blog, it is our goal to help the people in the Construction industry own the culture and be intentional about developing a safe and fun place for ALL workers to learn.

Meeting people where they are is a key part of developing culture. It’s human nature for people to want to matter. Historically, the construction industry has done a terrible job at communicating this message to workers. It’s why the industry currently has more than 1 million open jobs and skilled trade workers are leaving the industry at an alarming rate of 5 to 1 entering. If we want to reverse this statistic, then we must adjust the culture that exists to one that honors and values people. We must make people matter.

What makes us show up the first time?

Connecting to people or focusing on a common purpose: This is what makes people show up! It’s why culture is important to people. This is the reason that Jen, Jess and Hoots show up together twice a week at 4am for 2 hours or more! This team of authors has a trust level that runs deep with each other and we know that will spill out into the reader. Jen, Jess, and Hoots care about people and have done our best to make that as obvious as possible. When people are around Jen, Jess, and Hoots they are honored and valued. They not only feel like they matter, they matter! Once people understand how they feel when they show up, they will continue to show up! It’s kind of like a rollercoaster, scary at first but you’ll want to do it again and again!

How do love, care, compassion, and people play into culture?

When trust is built from a place of love, care, and compassion then feelings are genuine and people can sense that. This also encourages healthy conflict which inevitably drives commitments. These commitments allow for radical candor accountability, which ultimately drives results for all! The above synopsis is a combination of Patrick Lencioni’s book: 5 Dysfunctions of a Team and Kim Scott’s book Radical Candor. In 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, Lenconi discusses where most teams fall short of creating the trust needed to progress to success. In Radical Candor, Kim Scott focuses on the importance of caring personally and challenging directly!

This blog is intended to develop a culture with you. The intention of this culture is to make the reader curious and examine their thinking to consider a more human approach to the way they develop culture. You are learning through the experiences of Jen, Jess and Hoots but mostly Hoots because he is more relatable to not being ok with this softer, gushy stuff. The authors of this blog have developed trust over the last year by sharing vulnerable experiences together. As this blog evolves you will notice this same approach from the authors to readers. The authors are attempting to build a level of trust with the reader that allows vulnerability to take place on both sides! Someone always has to put themselves out there first in order for there to be full confidence and trust. For that reason, Jen and Hoots thank Jess for being willing to dive in head first ALWAYS!

A personal story from Jesse Hernandez on Why culture is important:

Long before culture was a topic of conversation, I experienced it firsthand. I was drawn to a group of older guys in my neighborhood, not because of their virtues but because they gave me the time of day. I felt “heard.” I was greeted and not judged and I felt like I mattered. Because I felt valued, it didn’t take much for me to abandon my early conditioning and get on board with the unwritten rules of this group. Suddenly, I morphed from an honor roll student to a criminal. The slow transition was fueled by constant contact and the leader embodied the rules of the group: take what you can, just don’t get caught. As I became more self-aware through age and experience, I started to understand that these people were only making me feel like I mattered. I didn’t really matter to them. With age, comes wisdom and with wisdom, I have been able to be strategic and intentional about who I surround myself with.

The point is that every group has a culture, the methods of building and maintaining the culture are the same in a culture of contribution as they are in a culture of greed. Good people can easily succumb to undeserving themselves and their communities.

Our role is to take ownership of the influence we have on others. Stop and listen to someone, give them eye contact and support. Invest in them.

Why is this such a difficult thing for us Construction folks to talk about?

We understand that this blog will make some people uncomfortable and that is important when we talk about culture. The work of establishing a meaningful culture will never end. Because construction crosses generations of people, the culture will be in a constant state of evolution. For many construction workers, these four concepts – love, care, compassion, and people – are not easy to define, to discuss at work or home, and are simply not commonplace conversation. When we are intentional about our culture, it will push some people away and that is ok! While we strive to accept every person into our culture, we also understand that there is not a one size fits all approach. We must continue to evolve ourselves with our culture to think, learn, and improve on a daily basis. Constantly experimenting to test for the best!

Tune into the second blog where Jen, Jess, and Hoots start to explore why trust is important when developing a culture, and what that leads to in the neverending pursuit for a better Construction Culture!

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Jennifer has more than 17 years of experience in the construction industry. She leads the continued growth and development of Robins & Morton's Building Forward® approach that focuses on continuous improvement, creating a learning culture, and leadership development. She has a BA in Operations Management from Texas A&M.

Jesse was born and raised on the Southside of San Antonio Texas. The landscape of his Career ranges from grading ditches to counseling Executives. His trek through the Org Charts has helped him appreciate that we are more alike than we are different. He applies these insights in escorting professionals in self-discovery, as they expand their influence in their communities and their careers. As a lifelong San Antonian, SAISD alumnus and 2 nd generation Plumber; Jesse is committed to Enhancing the Image of Careers in the Trades. His message is one of Contribution, Ownership, and Vulnerability. This message is visible in his podcast Learnings and Missteps, online experience No BS with Jen & Jess and Lean Calabosessions.

Adam began his career in the construction industry as a plumber's helper and then as a red-line architect’s helper while attending the University of South Florida. Over the past 20 years, he has steadily advanced his career and has held a variety of roles within the industry. Adam has successfully completed more than $1.5 billion in pre-construction and construction services for a diverse group of industries, including: healthcare, higher education, industrial, life science, retail, and hospitality. Most projects (~$1B) were in life sciences and high-tech laboratory construction for clients.