Pay It Forward: Helping the Next Generation of Estimators

August 15, 2019 Allyson Grove

As an avid professional football fan, one of my favorite activities is watching the annual induction of new members into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. During the event, you get to hear each inductee’s story – and not just how many touchdowns he scored or yards he racked up.

What I’m talking about here is their personal stories – the ones about their childhood, how and where they grew up, and who influenced them along the way. The truth is they all had key people who made an impact on them and moved them forward in their journey toward becoming a professional football player and eventual Hall of Famer.

The same is true for anyone who has been working in a professional environment for any length of time. You didn’t become a senior estimator or project manager all alone. You had help. Maybe that help stemmed from special opportunities or special people – or maybe both.

Regardless, I’m willing to bet you can identify the important individuals and moments that shaped your career in construction. And, if you’re anything like me (or a Pro Football Hall of Famer), the impact of all that isn’t easily forgotten.

As the construction industry grapples with a shortage of skilled labor, it’s more important than ever to repay the good that was done to you by helping those just getting into the business, such as a junior estimator.

Remember Where You Came From

Think back to the beginning of your construction career. You may have started out as a laborer or an apprentice. As a rookie, you wanted to learn as much as possible as quickly as you could. No doubt, that learning probably took many forms. It may have been on-the-job training and being exposed to a variety of trades and techniques or getting a feel for how to estimate and manage an entire project on your own.

Remember how it felt when all that learning paid off in the form of a signed contract or the completion of a building? It’s a safe bet that all your hard work yielded a distinct sense of accomplishment and purpose.

What if you shared those memories when you meet new recruits or even existing employees who are more junior in their careers? You can show them there are always new things to learn and how they can grow their knowledge by setting attainable goals. This will help set them on the path of continuous improvement.

It won’t take long for them to realize such industry knowledge is in high demand in today’s market. What’s more, they’ll see that properly leveraging your know-how can lead to increased income potential, not to mention a long and productive career. And it all started with your willingness to put yourself in their shoes and share some of your personal journeys.

Keep an Open Door

Another way to influence younger estimators is to be someone they can turn to when they have questions or need advice. Maybe they’re looking for ways to effectively tackle a complex estimate or perhaps they need to quickly complete a series of change orders for a big project. In today’s competitive business landscape, some employees may feel pressured to figure it all out on their own. They may not be comfortable seeking answers from more experienced peers because they’re trying to prove themselves right out of the gate. That kind of thinking could prove self-destructive in some cases.

That’s why it’s important to let them know your door is always open to talk through difficult issues. Whatever the scenario, knowing they have a person who’s faced it before and can offer wise counsel for what to do – or not to do – can be a huge benefit. As they build their careers, the rapport that grows out of this relationship can impact your whole team. You will likely see others interested in how to sustain an environment of collaboration and information sharing.

Share in Their Successes

Another way you can impact the careers of newer estimators and project managers is to celebrate when they succeed. I’m not talking about only the major, career-defining victories. Quite the opposite. Sharing in their everyday wins is much more significant. By doing so, you’ll help them see that they have people in their corner willing to cheer them on.

In addition, encourage them to take a moment to stop and reflect on what specific actions led to their achievements. More importantly, they’ll also see what hurdles were overcome along the way.

You can even talk through some of your experiences. Before long, you may notice they’ve developed a habit of reflection. This will allow them to have greater confidence in their abilities and sharper strategies for dealing with challenges or even failures.

Finally, don’t lose sight of your potential to make a lasting impact on new estimators and project managers. Your influence and advice may prove a major factor in their building a successful career in construction. And, even if they never have to make a Hall of Fame induction speech, you can bet they’ll be extremely grateful for all the support and encouragement you offered as they were learning.


If you’re adding new estimators, don’t miss our handy 7-step guide on How to Hire a Great Estimator. Find out how you can triple your business by finding the right fit for your team.


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