Trying to Bridge the Generation Gaps
Those who attend the 2006 Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) Conference & Indoor Air Expo, to be held this week (March 28-30) at the San Jose Conference Center, will have the opportunity to explore these questions and issues in three of the 35-plus conference workshops offered over the three-day event.
First up is "Hey Dude! Managing Age Diversity in Today's Workplace" (10:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., March 29), led by Robert Wendover. According to the director of the Center for Generational Studies, there are four generations in the workforce now: Matures, those over 61; Boomers, their children; Generation X, and what he terms Millenials, young people who came of age with computers and cell phones.
According to Wendover, each has different expectations and values. Xers, for example, generally want a work/life balance, partly because they saw their parents work long hours.
"Many Millenials struggle with critical thinking, partially because they have grown up with so many menu-driven options," he said. "This can make it harder for them to develop their own solutions."
By approaching workers of different generations in their own terms, you'll prevent conflict, he summarized. To thrive in this new world, a contractor must understand the values and attitudes of both new and experienced workers. This workshop is designed to take a realistic, yet amusing, look at how the generations relate.
A LOOK AT THE FUTUREWendover will also lead the session "From Paying Your Dues to Changing the Rules: Succession Planning and the Generations" (3 p.m. to 4:15 p.m., March 29).
As he put it, the next generation is more likely to challenge authority than their parents' generation and want to leave their own mark on the company. This workshop focuses on how the organization can ensure tomorrow's success by integrating the aspirations of Generation Xers with the wisdom of veteran managers.
"Like it or not, they will be our leaders of tomorrow and have more to offer than one might imagine," said Wendover.
Finally, ACCA technical education consultant Dick Shaw will moderate an interactive session called "Your Future Employees ... What's on Their Mind?" (2:15 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., March 30). Students from the ACCA student chapters at Ferris State University and Pennsylvania College of Technology will be on hand to articulate what their goals and expectations are, and what their expectations are about entering the workforce. Attendees will also have the opportunity to inform the students what makes them - their future employers - tick.
"I have seen a number of young people fail in their first HVACR job with a contractor because the employee and employer weren't on the same page about the new graduate starting as a helper to a technician," said Shaw. "Good communication probably could have resolved the issue and worked toward building a young person's successful career. These are the kinds of issues we'll be examining."
INTERESTING TOPICSOther interesting workshops offered include:
For a complete listing of workshops to be held at ACCA's conference, go to www.indoorairexpo.com/workshops.
Sidebar: Quality Report DueSAN JOSE, Calif. - One session which the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) is encouraging convention attendees to sit in on is titled "ACCA QA & QI...What's in It for You!" (2:15 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., March 30).
Contractors Skip Snyder, of Snyder Co., and Ray Isaac, of Isaac Heating and Air Conditioning, are to discuss the progress of the association's HVAC Quality Installation Specification, a document designed to establish a minimum criteria to assist contractors in installing HVAC systems that "meet customer demands for energy efficiency, comfort, and IAQ in residential and commercial buildings." A coalition of contractors, manufacturers, utilities, and industry associations has been collaborating to establish a set of nationally accepted definitions for "quality contractors" (QC) and "quality installations" (QI).
"ACCA has been working the past 2.5 years on defining â€˜quality contractor' and a â€˜quality installation' for residential and commercial HVAC applications," said Isaac. "ACCA contractors are conscious of the frequent gaps that develop from â€˜as designed' to â€˜as built' and â€˜as operated.'
"ACCA is trying to help customers identify contractors who are committed to getting it right, and to help contractors differentiate quality service offerings. In this specification, ACCA is defining the â€˜minimum bar' expectations of a properly installed HVAC system."
ACCA is nearly complete with the document development of the installation specification and anticipates releasing the specification for public review at the beginning of next month.
"There is a need to establish a raised bar - improve the core competencies of contractors to ensure that quality installations ensue," said Snyder. "This is beneficial not only as a process improvement for contracting businesses, but, more importantly, for fulfilling the needs of building owners and operators - comfortable, healthy, safe, and energy-efficient indoor environments. Today, across the broad spectrum of the industry, there is not a uniformly accepted definition of quality."
ACCA said it wants to define those terms to help the contractor, as well as the consumer. Due to poor understanding by building owners/operators of the proposition that quality contractors and quality installations offer, ACCA said there is a consumer market for an unlicensed, poorly trained, or otherwise unqualified individual or business to install HVACR systems. Unlicensed, or unskilled, or unscrupulous, or non-caring contractors are inclined to cut corners and to offer prices and performance promises that are difficult for professional, qualified contractors to match, it said. According to the association, uninformed consumers are left to experience the inevitable inconveniences and expenses of a poorly designed and poorly functioning HVACR system.
- Mark Skaer
Sidebar: In the Running for AwardsSAN JOSE, Calif. - ACCA has announced the finalists in the 2006 Contractor Excellence Awards. Winners in each category will be disclosed at the convention. Those in the running are:
EXCELLENCE IN RESIDENTIAL CONTRACTING: Albemarle Heating & Air (Charlottesville, Va.); Castellano Air Conditioning and Heating (Tampa, Fla.); Great Dane Heating and Air Conditioning (Clinton Township, Mich.); and Peaden Air Conditioning (Panama City, Fla.).
EXCELLENCE IN COMMERCIAL CONTRACTING: Engineering Excellence (Cincinnati); Tri-City Mechanical (Phoenix); and Shapiro & Duncan (Rockville, Md.).
JEFF FORKER AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN TRAINING: Ferris State University (Big Rapids, Mich.); ACCA Texas (Austin, Texas); and Peaden Air Conditioning (Tampa, Fla.).
SPIRIT OF GIVING AWARD: ACCA North Texas (Arlington, Texas); ACCA National Capital (Silver Spring, Md.); and ACCA Southeast Michigan (Livonia, Mich.).
Publication date: 03/27/2006