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The Coaching Corner with Michael Riegel: Beating the Averages

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Beating the Averages 

The employment news and outlook might be described as grim. More openings than available workers and challenges attracting employees. Some companies resort to following the supply-demand wave. They overpay for talent at the crest of the wave and let people go at the bottom. That may work in the short term, but the average tenure in construction is less than 4 years, 3.9 years by the latest statistics. What would you say to achieving twice the industry average? 

A recent conversation with Lisa Murray, Director of Human Capital Solutions at Wohlsen Construction Company, examined how they have been able to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. Lisa and I have similar philosophies though opposing career paths. She came to Wohlsen after 20 years as a small business owner focusing on training and coaching. I spent nearly 30 years in corporate environments and then became a small business owner providing training and coaching. 

Personality and Fit Rise to the Top 

Lisa described the company's use of personality assessments throughout the organization. The results are utilized in the hiring process, discussing promotions, and team composition They don't rule people out. Using the scores allows managers to ask the right questions, gain greater insight, and ensure team members are in positions where they can succeed. The comprehensive use--and buy in from all levels--is remarkable and far from commonplace. 

Prepare for Future Needs 

Training is required for all and requested by many. Wohlsen has found a way to overcome some of the false assumptions about training. Even for leadership and management training, field employees see the value. Interestingly, they have cracked the code on discussing EQ, emotional intelligence. Lisa shared that a field superintendent told her that the greatest impact of the EQ training was at home in interactions with his family. 

The Data is Irrefutable 

They know that the time, effort, and money expended on their programs is paying off. Wohlsen tracks retention rates of program participants and the employee base in total. The numbers don't lie. A simple retention rate only scratches the surface of the ROI conversation. Regular feedback, identifying patterns, and a willingness to adjust approach feeds their goal of continuous improvement. 

To fully present the results, philosophies, and programs offered by Wohlsen would require much more time. Here are some key takeaways. It is possible to beat the averages. It requires intention, purpose, and support from leadership. Remain consistent even in the face of the unexpected, like a global pandemic. Engage team members honestly and transparently so they understand their career path. Give your team members the support they need to succeed, now and in the future, at all career stages. Treat your people with respect and as valued contributors and they will stick around. As a coach, I was thrilled to learn that Lisa and Wohlsen are embracing coaching as a tool. A development tool as valuable as any piece of field equipment. 

You can reach me at

Michael Riegel 


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