Surveying plays a critical role to the land development process, yet it is an “aging” profession. Attracting new talent and training up the next generation is critical for the long-term success of the surveying industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistic reported in 2020 the median age for surveying and mapping technicians is 48.3, which is in the eight percentile for highest median age among all listed professions.
“There is a high turnover rate at the entry operator level, even the party chief level. They tend to move around a lot,” explained Galloway Principal and Sr. Survey Project Manager, Frank Kohl.
Kohl realized that a key component to retaining young surveyors was providing mentorship that gave them a sense of being part of a team.
Galloway’s Survey Mentorship Program is a unique program where young land survey professionals partner with experienced surveyors in a structured one-on-one environment to help them create a career path and develop into a true professional.
According to Kohl, the program is a rare and valuable tool that many companies do not offer.
“It provides opportunities and benefits beyond the bound of it [surveying],” said Kohl. “You will find very few companies that offer the training and guidance you are going to get here at Galloway. It puts us in a position to be a step above 90 percent of the people in our profession. It is as good as it gets.”
The new surveyors still receive the necessary training where they learn the legal and technical aspects in great length, chapter by chapter through manuals. This extensive training has led to an experienced Galloway survey team successful in a multitude of different areas such as residential, commercial, private, roadway, utilities, oil and gas, federal, and municipal projects.
However, outside of the projects in the field, they learn about the softer skills of the industry that go beyond the technical nuts and bolts of the individual discipline.
Both the technical and the soft skills hold their own significance.
“The mentorship is a one-on-one type situation, and it is meant for the young guy to be able to ask detailed and specific questions to their mentor” said Kohl. “It is two totally different processes, and both have a place, and both are extremely valuable.”
The mentees pick one of the three Professional Land Surveyors in the office they would like to be mentored by and learn how to properly lead meetings, how to create client relationships and development, how to lead a team versus just managing a team, and the steps to advance your career.
One of the most popular areas of focus is how to lead your team rather than just managing them. Kohl describes the difference as such: “Managing is project-based. Leading them is holistic: you know about their family, their passions outside of work, what they do on the weekend, you become part of their life rather than just being a manager at work.”
The mentorship program itself follows those same values of investing in the employee in all aspects. Mentors will meet with their mentees for lunch or dinner, have on or off-site meetings, and do their best to provide what is needed. This is extremely beneficial for those who are early on in their career, as according to Kohl, most young surveyors are right out of high school or a couple year college and are still trying to figure out what they want to do. Mentorship is provided right at that point.
“It gives them the tools to follow a path. It also benefits Galloway greatly by letting the employee know that you are invested in them and you are valuable to Galloway. It is a two-sided coin. It gives them a clear path and it gives us loyal employees. It helps us create loyalty,” Kohl explained.
The program is also beneficial and rewarding for the mentors as it gives them a sense of perpetuating the profession.
Brian Dennis, senior survey project manager, explains what it is like to witness the impact of the program.
“Just watching the light glow as they’re learning more, and the passion is growing for the profession and they are getting more engaged,” he said. “Really looking back and seeing the people that are going to replace you and knowing that you’re leaving the profession in good hands.”
Principal and Survey Manager Lyle Bissegger adds, “Here at Galloway we do a lot of mentoring for our younger surveyors and that’s the most rewarding part of what I see. We have got the chance to bring in surveyors and give them an opportunity to learn what this profession is.”
The overall goal of the program, according to Kohl, is to create professionals that can walk out of Galloway and be the best at any company they go to. So far, Kohl says the program has been received enthusiastically.
“They are excited about it. They like the one-on-one training. It is important to them. We are invested in them and it is reciprocated.”
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