Lifelong Learning is Essential to Our Future

Posted by Bruce W. Woolpert on Mar 18, 2015

By Bruce W. Woolpert, first published  September 2001

I appreciate the opportunity to explain Graniterock’s commitment to lifelong learning. This commitment lies at the center of our respect for People and the future success of the Company. Let me address Graniterock Team Members first and then the Company.

Graniterock People don’t expect that during their school or apprenticeship years they have learned everything they will need to be successful in their careers. Technology, materials, construction techniques and specifications and customer needs are all changing too quickly for anyone to hold to the status quo. Several years ago, the University of Michigan completed a study which found that all knowledge in the construction industry is replaced every six years. I believe this number is actually closer to four years and declining for all jobs. Life-long learning is necessary for professional survival.

More significant than technological and other change is the requirement for team members to exercise decision-making authority over their work. Gone are the days when management was expected to shoulder all the responsibility for a company’s success. With the support of investment in increased lifelong learning, each worker must strive to higher and higher levels of self -leadership.

While we at Graniterock emphasize self- leadership more than many other firms, there is no doubt that Graniterock People would face the same trend with another employer. Anyone who presents him or herself as a “pair of hands” doesn’t face strong job prospects, certainly could not expect a good paying job and would not be hired at Graniterock. All workplace trends point to a world in which job stability and better pay is linked to increased knowledge and demonstrated self-leadership.

Graniterock has moved to build an organization consistent with the needs businesses face in the 21st Century. We concentrate on assuring that each person has the information, responsibility and authority need to make decisions. This is necessary to our “Yes, we will” standard of customer care and to an ever-improving level of product quality and service to our customers. If all changes and decision-making were left to managers, the Company could not possibly move forward fast enough to survive. The Company’s ability to maintain its culture as it grows depends upon individual decision-making capability and self-leadership.

Graniterock People are right to expect that no manager ‘look over their shoulder’ or make decisions for them. Decision-making responsibility now falls to each Team Member. Lifelong learning supports the decision-making job responsibility each of us must perform successfully. As we have often discussed, job ownership at Graniterock means that an individual be able to both perform the work and change and improve the way the work is performed.

Graniterock People are leading the way in building a successful organization. Gone are the days in which workers do just what they are told. Graniterock has become a “shared knowledge and success responsibility” organization in which each person contributes by making decisions that improve operating efficiency and customer satisfaction and loyalty. We must always remember that the customer wants an ever-improving level of product quality and service at an attractive price – more for less. Businesses who do not simultaneously drive product quality and service up and costs down are not going to be around for long. The entire team needs to make these improvements possible so we can move faster than the competitor and not be the last to implement improvement.

The IPDP Program, Try-A-Job, Job Training-Mentoring, Cross Training, Performance Based Compensation and other similar approaches all support the development of self-leadership. They also open opportunities for job change and advancement for those wanting this opportunity.

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