Brett, geologist for a remediation company in southeast Washington, told Session 10 of Turbo’s Leadership Development Lab:
“Our company won a public bid contract in October for a design-build project associated with an oil tank removal at an important historic building site. The primary assignment of the contract was the removal of an out-of-date, out-of-use fuel oil tank which was identified at a footing of a structurally deficient, non-reinforced brick and mortar structure. The Portland Development Commission (PDC) provided three structural and geotechnical engineers for oversight and recommendations for shoring at the excavation’s edges. As the detailed specifications stated, ‘shoring shall be provided as necessary,’ our company didn’t plan on using shoring unless conditions clearly indicated that pilings were warranted and necessary. As with most engineers, opinions were eagerly provided by everyone, and everyone seemed to have different and even some conflicting views of what was required to safely excavate and remove the fuel oil tank.
“Instead of doing what I first wanted to do - attack the engineer’s shoring plans and jump on the client (PDC) about the original vague specification language – “shoring shall be provided as necessary” - I utilized Leadership Principles #5 – See Their Point of View, #6 – Be An Active Listener, #9 – Dramatize Your Ideas, and #13 – Avoid Arguments. The tailored application of these Leadership Principles created a venue for a healthy discussion, and in the end everyone agreed that it was our company’s choice about how and if shoring walls would be used to support the excavation edges.
“The lesson I learned from this experience is that allowing others to speak their mind without interruption and then professionally presenting alternative options and using passive methods is far more effective than confrontations and ultimatums. Confrontations and ultimatums build a wall between me and those whose help and agreement I need.
“The action I call you to take is listen to the opinions of everyone involved, no matter what your preconceived notions are about them and their profession might be. Even people without intimate knowledge of the project process or problem can provide valuable advice.
“The benefit you will gain is more respect from inspectors, clients, and yes, even engineers. You will present well thought-out, productive responses to project issues and problems, and your recommendations and solutions will be supported and accepted. You will be seen as a professional who eliminates barriers, roadblocks and walls; you will be admired and look up to.”
It is easy to write off a person, a group, or a profession because we don’t agree with them or because they don’t seem to see it our way. One of the first steps to wisdom is understanding and accepting full responsibility for being understood, not projecting or blaming others for not understanding or agreeing with you.
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