Point of Beginning

Editor's Points-Acquiring and inspiring.

October 1, 2007


Numerous students--many of whom were helping hands to survey crews over the summer--have gone back to school to prepare for their futures. Will the survey crews see them again?

Will any of these students enter the surveying profession in upcoming years? If not, then where will our future measurers come from? And once obtained, how can they be retained? These are the questions many surveyors are asking.

Go Get ‘Em

Before retention comes acquisition. Begin by looking in your own home and community. Take advantage of the fact that children are sponges and always ready for adventure. Studies show that the earlier children and students get involved in a field, the more likely they are to stay with it as a profession. Tie in fun lessons of history and geography with fundamental lessons on measuring. This will condition their little math minds, too. And no, it’s not just for boys.

Consider presenting at middle and high school career days. Also consider local Boy and Girl Scout troops, nature groups, your church, 4-H or other similar groups; you’ll soon have a story to share about inspired faces and eager hands. For the high school group, don’t forget the National Society of Professional Surveyors’ Trig-Star Program Contest, an annual trigonometry event that introduces surveying as a profession to high school math students.

Beyond these years is the college group--those students who spent the summer with you. Keep in touch with them; encourage them to join state society and student groups in their locale. Promote the numerous scholarships available from industry manufacturers and associations. Engage them in geocaching and the annual NSPS Surveying Student Competition. For information on all of these opportunities, click to www.acsm.net and www.nspsmo.org. At these sites, you will also find a slew of material to use to promote the profession at any level.

A smart way to promote your company and the profession is to hold open houses in your community. During these events, leverage your younger employees to act as recruiters. They’ll gain a sense of involvement and pride, and perhaps reel in a few newbies.

Now Keep ‘Em

So now that you’ve got ‘em, you gotta keep ‘em. But how, when there is so much competition pulling newcomers in every which direction? Here are some tips.

Pay them well. We all strive to have or maintain a certain standard of living. Don’t ignore the important factor of paying for the value of good hard work. With fewer candidates these days, salaries should be commensurate with the value of the employee.

Keep them challenged. Boredom leads to resignation. Take your employees to jobsites that use a technology new to them. Mold them to take initiative by taking courses or seminars to improve their job skills. Make sure, however, that course work reflects the reality of the jobs they will do and not that of college alone. New employees especially want real learning opportunities and chances to develop in their positions. Pride goes a long way (see next tip).

Recognize good work. We all thrive on compliments. Studies show that employees of small businesses succeed more on appreciation than by dollars. Surveyors worldwide are known for sticking with the profession for the joy of the work and not so much the pay (although it counts). Give words of praise, buy your best field worker a new pair of boots, and always give credit where it’s due.

Make them part of the company. Don’t treat them as just employees, or it will become “just a job.” Engage your employees in business decisions or working with clients. Communicate with each employee and put them in positions in which they desire to work; it’ll pay off for everyone. Massaging one’s strengths and sidestepping one’s weaknesses will facilitate a stronger work environment.

Mentor. Pair up supervisors or chief surveyors with those with less knowledge and experience. The “buddy system” has proven its merit. When pairing mentors with mentees, attempt to match similar personalities, professional backgrounds and career ambitions.

With some action and attention, employees can be obtained, retained and maintained in a way that satisfies everyone from the rodperson to the chief surveyor to the business owner. There’s little need to worry about good hands if you apply the Golden Rule and solid business sense.

To contact the editor, send an e-mail to hohnerl@bnpmedia.com.