Learning From Younger Estimators

If you have ever been absolutely annihilated at a video game by someone half your age or had your kid show you all the sic (that’s the 2024 word for cool. See, you just learned something new from the younger generation!) things your smart phone can do, then you already know that you can learn a lot from someone younger than you.

Traditionally, we hire junior workers knowing that they are going to need training and coaching—not only in the role they fill but also in business acumen. We don’t often think about what they can teach us. However, the younger generations can bring a fresh, innovative perspective to your business. You just have to create an environment that fosters the encouragement to share new ideas.

Click here to read the ultimate guide to hiring junior estimators. 

We sat down with Taimoor Khan, Vice President of Preconstruction at Satterfield & Pontikes Construction and Adjunct Professor of Construction Management at the University of Houston, to get his take on how preconstruction leaders can develop a culture of reverse mentorship for their teams. He says, “Anybody can teach you something,” but you need an open mind to allow it to happen.

Setting the StageTwo Beck Technology employees discuss information displayed on a computer screen.

Taimoor says creating the environment is key. In his experience mentoring college students and new estimators, he says that they need a push from leadership to open up and share their ideas. So, it is up to you to create an environment where these younger people aren’t afraid of criticism when sharing ideas.

How do you create this environment? Through:

  • Empowerment
  • Rewarding behavior
  • Utilizing individual’s strengths


What does empowerment mean? To Taimoor, it means “to share your power and authority with those who have less power and authority.” When you empower your team, you give them the lead on projects and tasks.

Taimoor describes it as giving them the spotlight. He says, “when they are in the spotlight, they start taking ownership.”

An example of this is when Satterfield & Pontikes fully implemented DESTINI Estimator construction estimating software and he sat down with his team and asked them how they were doing things. Of course, people were doing things a little bit differently than him, so he had them teach him how they did it.

He says his juniors felt good about being able to teach someone with more experience than them. It allows them to showcase their knowledge and build rapport with senior team members. This is empowerment.

Rewarding Behavior

“When you take care of your people, they will take care of the business,” points out Taimoor. One of the ways in which Taimoor has been successful at retaining his precon team is by rewarding behavior rather than just rewarding results.

If you have ever gone unrecognized at any of your jobs, you will know this to be true—when you don’t reward behavior, people stop putting in the effort.

To promote teamwork and innovation, you must reward it suggests Taimoor.

When his team completed their first, and complicated project in DESTINI Estimator, Taimoor gave them Amazon gift cards and had a plaque made for each of them with their names and the name of the project. It wasn’t for winning the project. It was to recognize the effort the team put into working in DESTINI Estimator.

These small rewards showed the team that they added value, and they took pride in that.

Utilizing Individual’s Strengths

A team of five people sitting at a table with laptops group fist bumping. Taimoor says, “Great leaders recognize strengths and utilize them…not always poke them in their weaknesses.”

It is up to you to find your team’s strengths and recognize them. Then you can really allow your team to work where they shine. You can’t compare everyone using the exact same expectations. That’s just asking for a huge letdown from everybody.

When you play to someone’s strengths it helps them gain confidence. When an employee is confident in their work it leads them to exceed expectations and go above and beyond. Taimoor says, “Confidence leads them to over perform.”

Wouldn’t you rather have your team over perform than anything else?

Taimoor leaves us with this one last piece of advice, “Provide mentorship and coaching. Not criticism.”

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