Professional and Career Topics

  • 1.  What to do when you and your employer have opposing views on the world outlook?

    Posted 28 days ago
    Employees should be free to have their own views independent of their employer, but what if there is substantial daylight between views? Examples might include climate change and causes or the role of diversity in hiring and staff makeup. The focus here is on managing or navigating situations when one has different views  or outlooks on the world than than their employer. I for one think that minor differences are ok but where differences are fundamental, it might be time to move on. it's an integrity thing for me.

    ------------------------------
    Mitch Winkler P.E., M.ASCE
    Houston, TX
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: What to do when you and your employer have opposing views on the world outlook?

    Posted 27 days ago
    Dear Mitch,
    The construction industry is a lagging industry in social terms. We are hardly in the forefront of any social issue.  But you can change that.
    I tried.  And i accomplished some, but the issues that you mention are huge, important issues in front of independent thinkers. It would be very hard for me to work for a Climate Change denier, especially because so many elements of the debate are close to the issues that engineers face every day.  Do we really want to bother making structures more energy efficient?  YES we do!  Take it from me, an aging hippie construction professional, Yes, we want to improve the built environment! One third of greenhouse gasses come out of the structures we design and build.  However, the reason to leave a relationship behind is not that you differ fundamentally from another construction professional on the important issue of the day.  It is because he or she is a crummy engineer.  Energy efficiency is built right into being a good engineer.

    ------------------------------
    John Donley A.M.ASCE
    President
    Donley Construction Consultants
    Los Angeles CA
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: What to do when you and your employer have opposing views on the world outlook?

    Posted 27 days ago
    The great part of living in a true democracy is that you can have opposing viewpoints and be able to respect them. The beauty of America is being exposed to different ideas, religions, philosophies, etc. The majority opinion still needs to respect the minority opinion and vice versa. In times of crisis, it is always important to lay aside differences to protect ourselves and our fellow citizens. The last thing you want to do in a fire is argue about the cause when you should be focusing on putting out the fire. If the firemen are stabbing each other at the five alarm fire, then yes, move on. The building is going to burn down.

    ------------------------------
    Yance Marti P.E., M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer IV
    City of Milwaukee
    Milwaukee WI
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: What to do when you and your employer have opposing views on the world outlook?

    Posted 27 days ago
    I haven't run into this personally, but I will say there are firms I wouldn't apply to join because my core values don't align with theirs. What it comes down to for me is that why we do what we do usually has a tangible impact on how we do it. I think that applies both in the technical aspects of engineering and in other areas that mold a company's culture. If I disagree on some fundamental aspect of what makes that company what it is, then I don't want really want to be associated with whatever that is. I've heard people that have to caveat their response when asked where they work, and that seems exhausting (I work at XYZ, but *insert thing they disagree with that is central to how that company is known*)

    I don't mind having differences of opinion with my coworkers, but that's not the same as if the company is making something a core part of its identity that I don't feel comfortable joining in on.

    From the other side, if I had a firm I would want employees that buy into the foundational aspects of the company instead of employees that begrudgingly drag their feet about the selected core values.

    ------------------------------
    Heidi C. Wallace, P.E., M.ASCE
    Tulsa, OK
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: What to do when you and your employer have opposing views on the world outlook?

    Posted 26 days ago
    This is an interesting discussion. Not so much with my employment but If I'm being honest I wasn't super happy with some of the ASCE advocacy initiatives over the past two years. I've felt like I don't have much a voice as larger organizations tend not to listen well to the individual voice leaning more towards a collective of loud or trendy voices. I didn't feel like the recent infrastructure bill was helpful to all sectors of engineering and in my case will certainly make my proportion of work damaged. Prioritized spending on political aims in an already tight construction market will drive competent vendors towards more public work. That's good for some and perhaps bad for others such as private developers on small projects will now have to appeal to perhaps a less qualified vendor market. Maybe ASCE makes a concise decision to pick a standard deviation of bell curve members into which initiatives it backs. But I really wrestled with if I should continue being apart of ASCE this year. There's a diversity in perspective and a plurality of viewpoints within ASCE. I feel like the strongest voices over recent times mirror the current trends and a more politically neutral tone has been ignored over hyper politics that we've seen over recent years throughout society.

    Ultimately, engineers are supposed to be objective arbitrators and problem solvers and while many solutions exist for a given problem we need to be careful not to wade into waters that is not ours to control. I decided to give ASCE at least another year of grace. But, boy it sure does feel like it's heavily and quickly leaning away from me.

    ------------------------------
    Jesse Kamm PhD, PMP, A.M.ASCE
    Senior Vice President of Construction Management
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: What to do when you and your employer have opposing views on the world outlook?

    Posted 22 days ago
    Well said.

    ------------------------------
    Debra Tarnow P.E., M.ASCE
    Senior Project Manager
    Dousman WI
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: What to do when you and your employer have opposing views on the world outlook?

    Posted 11 days ago
    It is always interesting to have conversations about different views. I do a lot of inspections for forensic analysis and meet a lot of people. The important part is to get along while you can and are allowed to have a different point of view from others. When it comes to things like climate change for example, I am under the view that it seems funny that you can follow the money and find climate change. While looking at historical data, it shows a different story, in other words make sure you research any topic and point people to date and ask them to research. As Engineers we look things up and find facts. not speculation.

    What i am saying is have discussions with others and agree to disagree. If the climate is hostile, then maybe its time to find a different job.

    ------------------------------
    George Miles P.E., M.ASCE
    President
    Alligator Engineering Inc
    Edgewater FL
    [Phone]
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: What to do when you and your employer have opposing views on the world outlook?

    Posted 7 days ago
    Thank you George for your comments, especially about climate change. I agree whole heartedly.

    ------------------------------
    Kirk Uchytil
    Structural Engineer
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: What to do when you and your employer have opposing views on the world outlook?

    Posted 9 days ago

    I agree that fundamental differences do influence with whom we choose to associate at work, socially, and even in our choice of neighborhoods to live.  We all have personal and professional opinions and views, some aligned with a majority, some with a minority, and some with a fringe.  All have a role when we explore them in the constructive, collaborative ways that engineering tradition has shown us leads to better conclusions. 

    Have we lost the ability for meaningful interactions when opinions and views collide?
    Don't meaningful interactions expand the associations we choose?
    Don't meaningful interactions contribute to finding common ground?

    Put another way, as a business owner or supervisor, why would you not work with a client, grow your business, continue to make a positive mark, when your opinions and views collide? 

    As a business owner or supervisor, why would you not want the best person to fill a position in your firm and then foster an environment that leads to their success; isn't your continuing success and profit dependent on them?

    Those that favor their views and opinions over their business objectives are not my idea of a business owner or supervisor but missionaries; ok for them but not my model.

    We may let our personal prejudices, our biases, our personal views, take over our good judgment, that's for sure being human, but resisting that urge builds a discipline that long term, in my opinion, makes us all better and makes us all more successful.

    ------------------------------
    Charles Howard P.E., M.ASCE
    MEMBER
    Richmond VA
    ------------------------------