The More You Give, The More You Get – At Greiner, We Live This Every Day in Every Way.

Written by Kate Carlson
knowledge transfer.  Construction knowledge management

The idea that giving more is especially true when it comes to people, whether you view those people as employees, partners, subcontractors, or clients. Making people central to how we operate, live, and breathe is the Greiner way.  

The lifeblood of our work comes from working with people, and we know people can be messy. Unlike building materials, blueprints, or construction equipment, people are complex. People have feelings, they have different experiences, and they come with responsibilities beyond their work lives.

The longevity of our Greiner team contributes to subtleties in our work that do not show up on a blueprint. You can’t plan to know all these complexities and subtleties, you have to experience them and experience them together. Whether welcoming and onboarding new hires or working with someone with you’ve worked with before, our team views their work not only as an extension of who they are individually but also who we are together. We know that when we give more at work, we all get more!

Greiner employees average five or more years as part of our team. Creating career paths for our team has been an evolution to retain our collective knowledge and experience and build our career paths together. Through trial-and-error, we have developed flexible learning paths to create advancement opportunities that meet our people where they are in their education, career path, and home life. We have been intentional, creating bold people that contribute to our strength from the inside out.  While this may sound simple, it isn’t easy.

Administrative Director Kate Carlson has developed a certain sense of authenticity in how we build teams. She understands this isn’t just “plug and play.” Building teams means putting the project goals first and layering the right combination of people, their experiences, and how they transfer knowledge to make it all come together to build something special. 

Kate will be the first to share, “When creating teams to run a project, understanding the project needs intimately guide us to the people with the right skills and experience. We will look to those less experienced who can work on the project and be mentored to learn and grow. There is no manual. We are intentional and thoughtful to the big picture and the details. Overall, we focus on the activities and details that will make the biggest impact.”

We encourage our team to ensure their working with each other creates smooth transitions and extends that to work we do with clients. It would be easy to have just one member of our team review and approve samples, shop drawings, and all the things that make a project go well. Instead, we work to ensure the client understands the ‘why’ behind all of these details, never forgetting this could be the client’s first construction project, and if we can help them learn in the process, this adds value to the experience.

Kate will tell you learning paths with flexibility are not black and white. To ensure success, we lean heavily on solid communication practices, including pairing all new hires with a partner and frequent review of the onboarding plan. Our team is provided a platform to describe roadblocks and, in return, accountability is expected.

Consider Greiner’s newest principal, Josh Helgesen, and how his career path showcases Greiner’s people-centric approach. Josh started as an apprentice carpenter, and today he is a principal responsible for all field operations. His success comes from his own skills and soaking in all the things his colleagues taught him over the years.

“When I came to Greiner, I had skills to be a carpenter but did not know a whole lot, and I wasn’t the self-starter I needed to be,” Josh says. “In those days, the approach to getting things done included a fair amount of raised voices and, if you were not ‘on it,’ there was always someone in line behind you to do that work. I was lucky and had a manager who believed in me and pushed me.”

“Today, it’s different,” Josh continues. “Greiner has evolved, creating managers who lead with compassion, empathy and expect accountability. To bring this all together, we listen more – if we aren’t listening, we aren’t doing any favors. We look for talented, hungry individuals who are willing to learn and can keep our company moving forward, and then we pour our hearts and souls into helping them grow. We are always thinking about how to replace ourselves. Our culture touches every aspect of our organization, most importantly how we work with each other.”

Knowledge transfer is the key to building the strength of our team. Our managers approach their work from a perspective of manage, grow, groom.  Standard practice is always working to understand a team member’s motivation, goals, and experience and then tailoring our development plans to them individually!

No two employees’ careers are the same – again, people are complex and messy, but we embrace this in their growth. Our managers are able to guide and make learning – including learning from mistakes—the norm. Over time we have learned this path creates efficiencies for us, adding value for our clients.

One of our newest team members, Spencer Flattum, started with us through an internship last summer. Our objective was to help Spencer (studying construction engineering) see several different aspects of the construction process.

Spencer quickly figured out Greiner’s ‘help me help you’ approach.

“This gave me a lot of opportunity to direct what I wanted to learn in a short period,” Spencer says. “This ‘taste of Greiner’ process helped me learn far more during the internship actually doing the work, seeing how it all goes together and, when plans go sideways, how to fix it. These are not the things that are easy to learn in a classroom setting. I gained a much deeper understanding of the importance of communication. My managers always made sure everyone was ‘in the “know.’ No surprises!”

At Greiner, we value our people and all their contributions. Each one of us is unique with the skills, strengths and areas that we can develop. This messiness of people is seen as a positive because we learn from these differences. Our people and the knowledge we transfer to each other are the source of the strength we can share with each other and every client we have the privilege of working with.