Being Selfish, With the Best Intentions

In the residential construction industry, multiple players want to provide quality education opportunities.

By Dean Horowitz, Publisher | May 31, 2003


Dean Horowitz, Publisher

There has been so much talk about "education" throughout our industry. Chatter from the people who want to provide it, to the people who they believe need it, to the customers who will benefit from it, upgrading people and processes is an essential issue for all of our businesses going forward. At least it is in talk.

In the residential construction industry, multiple players want to provide quality education opportunities.





  • Building product manufacturers seek to demonstrate what makes them different from their competitors by partnering with existing education and certification programs or developing their own.





  • Suppliers often offer networking programs, business seminars and product training sessions.





  • NAHB shifted its education strategy so it now can offer one unified "university."





  • Professional Builder offers NAHB's Certified Graduate Builder classes in the pages of this magazine and on its Web site, It even produces what has evolved into the most significant management conference in the industry, BENCHMARK.





  • Individual builders are creating their own private-labeled programs and assigning education leader responsibility to managers within their organization.

    Education - is anyone really benefiting? Is anyone really learning?

    For a home builder, education makes a great deal of sense. It is the means to create a unified culture through the selection of the proper educational materials and their delivery. It says to everyone: These are our values; this is what excellence looks like; these are our expectations. It establishes guidelines that make accountability more realistic and measurable. Finally, you can monitor against performance standards instead of liability, likability and trust.

    But there is a downside. Many employees use training as a crutch. Instead of looking at education as an individual responsibility, dialogue shifts to "but you didn't train me on that, why should I be held accountable for it."

    Time away from the job is another common complaint. People understand that education is in addition to the work that still has to get done. The work is the primary reason for employment anyway. Without revenue coming in, the education expense will be one of the first things to go.

    Then there is the question of who do you train? You can't invest in everyone, and some people simply don't want to learn. They stare at you as you explain this investment in their careers. Their minds will more likely be focused on the clock than on understanding your good intentions for enabling them to have job security and bankability for the future.

    The key to making education of lasting value to the individual, and to the organization, is linking the day-to-day with the new work habits. Create the means to implement what was learned so everyone understands that this education was a meaningful use of their time. Ultimately, each individual gains the one thing no one can take away - security in his or her skills and what he or she offers an employer. To the employer, the only value back is a stable and growing work force that exponentially brings value back to the organization as a result of the initial education investment.

    This magazine's team is focused within its value statement and actions to deliver a meaningful experience for its readers. The cost of this year's BENCHMARK attendance was cut in half. It is our means to enable you to join with more than 700 other high-performers in a rich and meaningful experience.

    Ultimately, the true measure of our individual success is the degree to which we help others succeed. Their realization of potential is a wonderfully selfish reward.

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