Talk Reveals Culture

Are you an “Erosion Control” contractor, inspector or professional?  Do you design, enforce or review “erosion control” plans?  Is your stormwater program an integrated part of your planning and design process or is it an afterthought?  Do your employees know that their objective is to protect water quality, or do they still think they’re being paid to capture sediment?  How we talk and what we say gives a window into how we think.

I attended and presented at the annual meeting of ALDOT construction and materials engineers this week.  My presentation focused on post construction stormwater (see my Prezi, The Other Stormwater).  I think there may have been one other presentation that specifically addressed environmental protection during the conference.  The rest addressed various other technical areas related to road and bridge construction.  While water quality could have been simply a sideline topic given a token time slot or two, it was not.

Environmental protection and stormwater management in particular, seemed to permeate conversations and traditionally unrelated presentations.  From innovative ways to plug bridge deck scuppers on a bridge deck rehabilitation project to successes and lessons learned on a challenging road construction project in close proximity to one of the most environmentally sensitive streams in the southeast.  The topic of water quality protection seemed to be everywhere.

Due to other commitments, I arrived to the conference a few hours after it started.  As I walked up to the entrance of the conference facility, I overheard an ALDOT project manager talking on his radio.  He didn’t really have much of my attention until I heard, “did we lose any material?”  I slowed down and waited for him to finish.  When he saw me he offered up that his project experienced storms dumping over 10 inches of rain the night before.  The materials trying to escape resulted from a slope failure on an existing roadway with live traffic.  I was impressed that he was concerned with soil loss at the same time he was taking care of this very important roadway maintenance issue.

I often get to overhear conversations as calls come into construction managers and leaders that I happen to be working with.  When I hear discussions about water quality it makes me smile.  To know that water quality protection is being considered and addressed every day as we construct our state’s roads and bridges reveals the culture that we have worked so hard to create.

There is a reason that Communication is the first of the Five Pillars of Construction Stormwater Management.  It is truly THE best management practice.

Culture is being created with or without you.  Consider what kind of team you want to be a part of.  Think about what type of service or product you want to deliver.  Your team and your customers are counting on you.

  • Get the terminology in alignment with WHY you do what you do.
  • Create and share your vision early and often.
  • Stop beating up and mocking employees and coworkers who may not think the way you currently think.
  • Seek opportunities to change your team, organization or industry for generations.

Tell us about a cultural success in your world or give us some tips for making ours better.  Use the comment tool below.

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