This article originally appeared in the July/August edition of the GVCA Journal
Let’s face it, when it comes to construction technology there is a huge disparity in terms of adoption across our industry. While some companies are making the front page of magazines for their use of hot new technologies like augmented reality and drones, others are still struggling to rollout solutions that seem like they’ve been around for years.
Why is the technical divide in construction so large?
When talking about the large technical divide in construction, budget is typically excuse number one, but frankly, technical ability is a close second if not a contender for first. This is because the lack of technical ability on a team can make the idea of rolling out new software seem far more daunting and expensive than it needs to be. Questions like “what if we buy software and no one uses it?” and “who will manage the roll-out?” fill the halls until ultimately a decision is made: do nothing.
What can we do about it?
Considering this situation, many construction companies have come to realize that a more technically savvy team will lead to simpler and more cost-effective change management. These companies have begun seeking out new hires that have good technical skills in addition to the industry chops to make them successful in their roles. However, these tech-savvy people with a background in construction are very hard to find. They are unicorns…and we’re not even sure they exist!
The truth is, when it comes to technical ability, what you should really be looking for is a mindset, not a hard skill.
Because of the rapid changes taking place in construction technology, skills can be fleeting, whereas the ability to learn will never falter. Here are three important traits to look for in new hires when trying to build a technically competent construction team.
The Ability to Learn
Most new technology being developed today is built with the end-users in mind. This means that these tools are purposely designed to be easy to use for people with a range of technical experience. In addition, the steady increase in online learning resources available means that it’s possible to take introductory level courses on just about every technology out there, many of which are offered free of cost.
If an employee has the ability to learn new skills, and your company promotes a culture of learning on the job then there is no limit to the technology that a new employee can master.
Openness to Change
Learning once and becoming an expert is one thing, but the ability to constantly evolve and learn at the pace of industry changes is an extremely valuable skill in its own right. Because of the rapid changes in construction technology, employees who are excited by the idea of change and are encouraged to stay on top of new trends will be valuable assets to any team.
At the end of the day, learning any new skill takes time and requires patience. Sometimes it will be the patience to learn the skill and other times, the patience to help coach and train fellow team members. Regardless of the situation, a calm and collected attitude will go a long way towards building an environment that is conducive to constant learning.
The next time it comes to hiring a new team member and the idea of finding a “technically savvy industry expert” a.k.a. unicorn is raised, you’ll know what to do; remember these three important traits and try to determine if the role being hired for really requires hard technical skills, or if simply having the right mindset will do the trick.