January 2018

How are Your Workplace Communications?

 By Brian Keierleber, PE
       NACE President


Every day is a day closer to spring. Here in the upper Midwest most of us have had a very mild winter, but across much of the U.S. people have seen more winter than they are accustomed to.

Yes it was -20 here recently, but that happens in Iowa in the winter. I recently headed to Brainerd, Minnesota, to the Minnesota County Engineers Association (MCEA) Annual Meeting where it was warmer there than in parts of Florida. That happens in July not in January.

Depending where you are located will dictate how you design and what equipment you purchase. Atlanta does not invest in many snow plows as it would be a waste of funds to have many sitting in their buildings just waiting for a foot of snow. But Buffalo, New York, better be ready for the snow. The environment we live in impacts our responses. I cannot imagine sitting in traffic jams every day. I could walk to work in 15 minutes, so sitting in traffic would a complete waste of time.

At the MCEA Meeting we heard an outstanding presentation on Conflict Resolution by Jody Janati. She went through how men and women see and hear things differently. Yes this does go back to the hunter and the nut and berry gatherer, but she put it in terms that all of us could understand and recognize.

Most of us spend a significant share of our time dealing with personnel issues at work. We believe that if people would just behave, life would be simpler. What is said by either person can be dramatically different than what is heard. Our background and experience impacts that. Jody did an excellent job listing examples then explaining how different individuals would respond. Most of us were in full agreement.

She referenced how the eye contact stimulates the hunter response and, in some situations, actually leads to physical violence. Understanding these behavior patterns can assist in handling the situation. For example, my leadership training came courtesy of the military years ago. While some aspects of it still pertain, many are ineffective in today’s world. Women were not allowed in Combat Arms units at that time, so our leadership training was a reflection on that. As leadership is a key component of being a good supervisor in any field, we must understand our fellow workers.

Soldiers of WWII responded to a different leadership style than those of the Vietnam era. The workers of today require a different leadership style than those I grew up with. Knowing this may easily mean the difference between success and failure.

We can all learn from Jody and others in her profession. We must adapt to our changing workforce, or phrased differently “if you are not at the table, you will be on the menu.”

I look forward to seeing all of you at NACE 2018 in the Wisconsin Dells. Take a look at the Conference Site for the great educational and networking events that the Wisconsin County Highway Association have planned for us.

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How Are Your Workplace Communications?

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