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December 18, 2013

Mentors can help with brain drain

Construction companies may not be able to plug the brain-drain of boomers retiring, but there are ways to transfer knowledge using techniques learned from coaches or mentors.

“Older retired workers have a lot to offer and are perfect mentors,” said Cori Maedel, CEO of Jouta Performance.

Individuals with specific expertise can be brought back on a casual basis to transfer their knowledge to younger workers as companies need them.

Mandel, a coach certified by International Coaching Federation, said that the company first has to determine what it needs and where.

That’s the coach’s role.

She has conducted business seminars for the Vancouver Regional Construction Association, as well as private companies.

“You help them find their own answers,” she said.

Mandel guides a company towards determining objectives and then achieving them.

In contrast, a mentor has a reserve of specialized knowledge or experience.

A person or group may have one coach, but many mentors.

She provides coaching services, gives seminars, finds mentors and, in the area of human resources issues, her firm has specialized expertise.

CEO Kyle Downie of SkillPlan has developed a program in conjunction with the B.C. Building Trades that looked at how to be a good mentor and how to be mentored.

“Our program was designed for the apprenticeship program,” said Downie.

The focus is on first and second-year trainees, but also the journeyman training these new individuals.

Eventually, these novice apprentices become journeymen with increased skills on how to work with new industry entrants.

“We need to have a paradigm shift,” said Downie.

This is to accommodate a knowledge transfer in an industry sector that sees 85 per cent of learning happening on the job.

“There is a brain drain happening,” he said.

“The question is how to effectively transfer knowledge before baby-boomers retire.”

The electrical industry has embraced the new SkillPlan program.

Mentorship Matters has been adopted by the B.C. Electrical Joint Training Committee, said Downie.

He expects it to be adopted by the electrical industry across Canada for training new apprentices.

Common Sense Center’s co-founder David Rossi focuses on mentoring younger workers from 16 to 30 years of age.

They range from pre-employment to those new on the jobsite.

This group also benefits from mentoring as they are most at risk from accidents.

“But, I also train supervisors and management on how to work with younger workers,” said Rossi, who has offices in both the Okanagan and Vancouver area.

He has also authored the book, Have You Ever Been to Sea?, which is a self-help mentoring tool and available on his website.

Companies such as Houle Electric have used his skills to help establish their own in-house mentoring programs to deal with succession planning.

One thing that Rossi sees when he helps establish in-house mentoring programs is that often those with the knowledge or skills don’t have good skill sets for passing that on.

Rossi’s role is one of enhancing skills and getting individuals to work together.

While large companies or associations have the ability to draw coaches and mentors on site, there are alternatives for smaller companies such as mentoring groups for companies located in non-urban areas.

Whistler, B.C.-based Lighthouse Visionary Strategies helps facilitate the transferring of knowledge.

“I basically developed my own formula for the mentoring group,” said Cathy Goddard.

She runs one for small businesses or entrepreneurs and a second for employees, who pay a fee to meet every three or four weeks from September through to April.

The focus is on developing their company or career growth and how they plan to move forward.

“We hold that person accountable,” she said.

The person at each meeting describes the progress made or obstacles overcome to achieve their goal.

While her group meetings are now in Whistler, she has hosted groups in Vancouver.

Goddard also does online meetings for groups outside the area.

Her company has been a finalist in the 2013 Small Business B.C. awards and is again nominated this year.

Laura Watson, president, of Venture Coaching International Inc. based in Calgary, has business clients right across Canada.

She utilizes face-to-face meetings, phone, internet and Skype to coach her clients and help them reach their goals.

“My focus is on the individual and how the person can be more effective,” she said.

“(It may be) something like how to work with their team, if they have a team, or how to delegate more and how to make their people perform better.”

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