From March to June, our Sioux Center, IA office is hustling and bustling. Over 200 craft team members and leaders meet for annual training called Field Leader Excellence (FLE). They come from across the country and job sites for a 3-day event to learn, grow, develop as leaders and build relationships with each other.
FLE at Interstates
Three groups are invited to FLE annually: Superintendents, Foreman, and Crew Leads. They are from our regional locations and our national traveling construction group. During this time, we cover a variety of subjects. It includes work-related topics to general life tips. “We want to help our team members not only at work but also outside of work too,” Benj Van Donge, Director of Workforce Operations at Interstates, shared as he explained the topics for FLE. We invited speakers from outside Interstates to share topics such as finances, mental health, and well-being. These carefully crafted topics vary by group, but all are meant to equip them in their roles and grow as leaders.
Arlen Duplissey, Foreman
Arlen Duplissey, an attendee and Foreman at Interstates, left “with a lot to think about.” Two topics stood out to him during the training—mental health and management. During the mental health session, the leaders were encouraged to be more aware of their crew’s mental health. Duplissey shared, “As a leader, I’m here to do more than just provide the right tools. Leaders have a responsibility to look deeper at what’s going on with the crew. Hearing about the insights and trigger warnings to look for altered my thinking. A crew member could have something else going on than ‘just a bad day.’” He also left thinking a lot about how he could give more responsibility to the next generation of management.
Another benefit is bringing team members from all over, which means diverse experiences, time with Interstates, and knowledge. Duplissey especially appreciated seeing everyone come together to learn from each other. “Each group has its own knowledge and strengths. We could share our leadership principles, lessons learned from various situations, and better ways to use Interstates technology.” Duplissey has been in the electrical field for 35 years and appreciated connecting with the upcoming generation.
Matthew Schwab, Crew Leader
Another attendee, Matthew Schwab, Journeyman and Crew Leader at Interstates, shared his experience. “My experience at FLE was great…We learn different processes and behaviors that make up a good team and a great working environment for everybody.”
Schwab was part of the Crew Leaders that attended in June. The group learned some tips and best practices for control troubleshooting. They split into teams and worked together to make a panel board work properly. Schwab commented, “This was the best part of the training.”
Another topic shared with all three groups was psych safety. Team members learned about the seven behavior traits that make up a good site leader—ownership, courage, recognition, trust, openness, empathy, and vulnerability. Schwab said this was his biggest takeaway. “I’ve realized that I need to encourage people to have the courage to speak up when they have different ideas about a task.” Creating a space where people feel comfortable speaking up betters our work environment and strengthen our crews.
We’re encouraged to see many other leaders like Schwab and Duplissey walk away with actions to implement on their job sites. These are just two of the 200 individuals embracing their role on job sites. Developing leaders takes time and effort; each year is a new opportunity to further challenge and build our team members.
In addition to training our leaders, we have an extensive apprenticeship program that we continue to grow each year. Learn more about this program.