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Construction company uses reverse mentors to help implement technology

In the construction industry, experienced workers often are called upon to teach hands-on skills to younger, more inexperienced workers. However, seasoned workers sometimes lack the knowledge necessary to implement new technologies. Young people graduating from construction programs at colleges and universities have studied building information modeling, 3-D scanning, drones and other digital tools and can offer their knowledge to field-experienced co-workers, according to www.constructiondive.com.

Suffolk Construction, Boston, is experimenting with what it calls "reverse mentor" relationships while working on a Ritz-Carlton Residences project in Sunny Isles, Fla.

Jerry Snell, a general superintendent for the project, shares his years of experience while mentoring recent graduates in the company's Career Start program through hands-on role rotations, leadership training and more. Jonathan Meyer-Senior is among the recent graduates and is in his second year as assistant project manager at the company. Meyer-Senior is among a group of young workers who have been given an opportunity to experience management by sharing their knowledge and passion for technology with more seasoned team members, such as Snell, and show the team how it can make the company more efficient.

Snell says reverse mentoring has been successful.

"The young people bring their education, and you take that and combine it with my experience—it just makes a good team," he says.

Snell, Meyer-Senior and others involved with the Ritz Carlton project came up with the idea organically, but it became a more structured program through management buy-in and encouraging young professionals' enthusiasm for the technology capabilities on the project.

Meyer-Senior and his team have worked closely with subcontractors to provide training regarding the project's technologies, and Snell is providing Meyer-Senior with guidance regarding how to effectively manage the subcontractors.

Snell and Meyer-Senior say their high expectations for the experimental program have been exceeded. They hope the reverse mentoring program will result in embracing technology not just on their project or in their South Florida market but across the company.


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