Understanding the significance of candor-filled conversations changed everything I once (thought I) knew about leadership and professionalism. In an industry that is moving as quickly as construction, there is no room for vague conversation with open-ended intensions. Learning to have the hard conversations are essential for everyone’s time, accountability, and in all honesty—respect.

As employer initiatives to enhance and empower the leaders within our company, I was fortunate to gain a seat in a professional development with Sarah Turner, Principal Consultant with Faurote Group. This learning opportunity changed my dialog with colleagues; it impacted the discussions I have with team members looking for direction, and most of all, awakened my ability to receive candor feedback regarding my own performance and how to emerge into a better leader. In an industry where we often use the quote “time is money”, those who avoid hard discussions are the most wasteful—wasteful of time, resources, and opportunities.

Allow me to explain.

Our time is valuable. The time estimators dive into a proposal is valuable. The time we invest in meetings and collaboration efforts is valuable. The time wrapped up in every weather delay, monthly report, financial review, and project schedule is valuable beyond the dollar value assigned to it. I’ve been on the end of the phone call advising a multi-million dollar contract was missed by a few hundred dollars. I’ve walked away from unorganized meetings. This level of professionalism started when others’ time was considered as valued as if it were my own.

Our resources are limited. Two leading resources which make a project successful include a solid project team paired with great partners, making the common factor between the two, not the size of the company or scale of financial investment, but the people. It is imperative that leaders provide both positive and constructive criticism for professional growth in a “language” which that individual connects with. Honest, candor-filled conversations address items of concern in a professional manner, highlight areas which may require improvement, provide concise parameters of expectations, and empower others to continue evolving. Above all, it is a direct reflection to the individual to see themselves as a valued and vital player to a project and company’s success.

Our opportunities are endless – false. There are endless opportunities, but opportunities are not endless. In fact, like much of the construction world, opportunities are time sensitive and narrow. Failed conversations lead to sacrificed potential opportunities to those who depend on your guidance and feedback, those who could be improving but wasn’t aware of the affair. Lastly, how many opportunities for growth are you willing to sacrifice for yourself? Candor conversation with oneself can be just as productive and essential in avoiding misfortune, enhancing self-awareness, and evolving into a stronger leader.

By Natalie Sanchez, ’16
Manager of Construction Operations, Milhaus