3 Invaluable Lessons from Mark Breslin

  1. The construction industry needs a major paradigm shift to be innovative and appealing as an industry into the future.
  2. The focus of construction companies needs to be on the development of teams and shifting from the mindset of “blue-collar” to “professional.”
  3. Need to emphasize the importance of seeing the workforce as people and not as just workers or assets.

This week, host Sue Dyer speaks with Mark Breslin, the Executive Director of the United Contractors Association, author, speaker, and influencer.  He’s spent decades advising CEOs and senior leaders in business, government, labor, and non-profit arenas in North America.  A top-rated public speaker and strategist who has a perspective to share with us that perhaps no one else in the world does.  We discuss his extensive work with the labor unions, what’s worked, what doesn’t, and how they are evolving.

The Current “Happenings” in the Labor Unions of North America (02:34)

There is a significant man-power shortage in all areas of North America.  Baby Boomers are retiring and the construction industry is not looked at as a “destination” career.  Unions are scrambling to recruit and onboard new people.

Union Contractor Role in Combating the Man-Power Shortage (03:42)

  1. Contractors need to look at Union relationships as partnerships and get involved in direct recruiting.
  2. Put yourself in a place to be a destination workplace.
  3. Shift in mindset to help growth and career planning.
  4. Aggressively fund a Learning and Development Department.
  5. Tell a different story about upward mobility through apprenticeship.
  6. Better communication with teachers, school counselors, etc.

Thoughts on Women in Construction (09:13)

We need a paradigm shift because we are ignoring 50% of the population.  We need to evolve mindsets and job-site behaviors to match the rest of society.

The Unique Industry Shifts with Union Leaders (10:36)

  1. A focus on the development of leadership capabilities.
  2. Field-level and apprenticeship enhancements.
  3. Transformation in the mindset of the workforce.

Description Of and Development Process for the Mindset Shift (12:35)

  1. Construction companies need to be as innovative as their clients.
  2. Need to be on the edge of “Change-Management.”
  3. Have an integrated leadership curriculum training and resources from top to bottom.
  4. Look at leadership development as a profit center, not as overhead or something to be one casually.
  5. Field Leader’s mindset needs to move from “Blue-Collar” to “Professional.”

What Unions Can “Bring to the Table” (15:10)

  1. Their ability to use their training infrastructure to accelerate development.
  2. They bring workforce stability.
  3. Workforce generation.
  4. Upgrading of workforce.

New Technology and Workforce Deliver (16:30)

  1. The pre-Fabrication revolution with modularization mixed with BIM.
  2. Labor Cost reduction.
  3. Skills and technology gap between generations.

Current Construction Trends (19:11)

  1. Moving past a “hard-dollar bid” business, it’s more relational.
  2. Upcoming generations are less willing to travel to do the work.
  3. Safety culture is becoming tighter – there is an expectation of zero accidents.

Addressing High Suicide Rates in Construction (21:32)

  1. Wellness is Not Weak article.
  2. We have obligations to the workforce as people.
  3. Give more help and less tolerance of people’s challenges.
  4. One idea, a company is giving a Mental Health app to each of their employees.

Mark’s Strengths as a Leader (24:47)

  1. Mark has screwed up everything, and now he knows better.
  2. You really need to be self-aware – learn that failures are your “GPS.” 
  3. He learned that “it is not about him.” 
  4. Spend the time coaching and growing your team.
  5. Fail often and fail well.
  6. Learn to collaborate, say what you need to say, and always have a mentor.

Mark’s Greatest Career Challenge and Learning Opportunity (28:26)

He was in the middle of a delicate negotiation and someone successfully provoked him, and he blew it by succumbing to emotions.  Also, hiring from opportunism instead of strategy.

The Very Best Advice Mark Has Ever Received (30:04)

Favorite saying: “Men, at some times, are masters of their fate.” All of us, no matter how important we, are all “at some times” masters of our fate. The key is knowing the difference of when we need to embrace our fate and when we need to accept our fate.

Resources for Listeners

Contact Mark

Mark Breslin Website

Contact Mark on LinkedIn

Mark’s Parting Advice (34:41)

As Leaders, “Ask, don’t tell”.  You need to be incredibly curious and relentless in asking what needs to be done better.

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