How to Maximize Employee Engagement with Tony DeStefano
“It starts with our managers being as proactive as they can — helping employees think a little bit more future-forward about their career path.”
For our Future of Work webcast on March 23 2021, Criterion's Erica Sand welcomed Tony DeStefano, Vice President of Human Resources for Flintco. Tony is a U.S. army veteran who has been in the HR space for about 15 years. He talks about his “day to day” role at Flintco as including employee relations, talent management, staffing, and recruiting, comp and benefits— as well as tending to the company culture. Surprisingly, the construction industry is seeing some dramatic workplace changes you might not expect. As Tony noted, Flintco’s culture has evolved in terms of employee development and the role that managers can play in learning.
Take a look at our edited highlights. Then, watch his full Future of Work episode here.
Erica Sand: Focusing on learning, in the current landscape, how do you motivate your employees?
Tony DeStefano: I like the fact that you reference it as learning. It’s a learning and development function — not so much the training function. It takes in a more holistic view of the space. Training in my mind is check-the-box, required technical, one-directional type of activities. Learning and development is a bit more holistic. … It’s more of a two‑way conversation about what it is you want to do and how you want to get there.
Leading up to and getting even more accelerated during the pandemic, we at Flintco have been starting to shift the discussion — ‘Here's training. Here's what we're going to require you to do .. but you ultimately own your career path. So it’s asking employees to take more ownership rather than driving the one‑way conversation. It starts with our managers being as proactive as they can — helping employees think a little bit more future-forward about their career path.
ES: What really motivates people to want to self-develop?
TD: Two things that been helpful for at least for us: Number one is we assess everybody. The learning and development journey starts with creating some self‑awareness on who you are, what your strengths are, some things that you might want to have an opportunity to work on. We assess everybody … do a deep dive into the data. It helps set the table of helping people understand who they are and maybe some things that they would want to improve on. It’s equipping them to be a little bit more self‑aware. Number two is that we’ve redefined our talent management process to be less about ratings and more about, again, this holistic view of why it is you do what you do. What's important to you both personally and professionally?
ES: Anything else would you like to share with us?
TD: Just reflecting on the last year, when, especially for an industry like construction, you have to be onsite, you have to be in person. The thing that I've been excited about is that we've been able to maintain a high level of production and effectiveness, despite the fact that we've had to alter not just our staffing arrangements, but also working remotely. For a very traditional industry like ours, comfort with alternate work arrangements is a huge stepping-stone for reducing the potential for burnout.
In terms of things we want to change going forward, as managers, there's going to be this requirement to be better listeners. If we want employees to take ownership of their careers and we want to trust employees to continue to work remotely and not feel isolated, as managers we really have to be much more proactive in trying to engage employees. And it's not just about what they want to do for development. It's about how they're going to perform. They feel like part of the culture and part of the company.
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