Trusted Voices

by Coach Rob Balfanz

In the built environment, this is another way we will change the narrative for the skilled trades.

When you think of the words “trusted voices,” where does your mind take you?

Does it take you to a trusted voice that could be an established community leader, a leader in a workplace or voluntary setting, or a representative of a specific community?

What about sports? When I think of trusted voices in sports, the first thing I think of is a former or current coach or a great player – someone who positively impacted me.

When I think of the construction industry or the built environment, I think of a business owner, a supervisor or a top-notch peer or colleague that positively impacted me.

What about the new workforce? For those folks that are new to the construction industry, remodeling, new construction or the built environment, who are the trusted voices that they should be aware of? Is there a picture-perfect “trusted voice?”




I coach baseball, yet I haven’t won a national championship or a world series, so what do I know?

In baseball, I tell my players (pitchers and catchers specifically) if you want to save your arms for when you really need them…listen up. You don’t throw to warm-up; you warm-up to throw. I use this same approach in business, regardless of whether it’s in operations, production, recruiting, learning and development or training.

We need to start thinking more about the definition of Trusted Voices and using them more and more in the trades. Who knows, it may just save our arms!

Here are some points I’ve learned in my experience over the years:

  1. If you build it, they will come!
  • Use your team as examples
  • Share stories of how your team wins
  • Share stories of how your team learns
  • Ask your team to tell their story and share it
  • When you market or advertise, use your team as actors and give them the spotlight
  • Let your team interview new players – give them a voice
  1. Tried, True and Tested – Or NOT!
  • Hire industry experience - yes
  • Hire people without industry experience - yes
  • Hire people with no experience - yes
  • Hire people fresh out of high school - yes
  • Hire people fresh out of technical or trade schools - yes
  • Hire people who have passion - yes
  • Hire people with a great attitude – yes
  • Hire people with character - yes
  1. Almost Famous!

Leaders or Trusted Voices – DON’T always have to be or have:

  • Movie stars
  • Famous athletes
  • Wealthy
  • 30 years of experience
  • Come from a wealthy family
  • Know everything

Trusted Voices can also be people just like us – and in many cases, they are.

“Wait long enough, and people will surprise and impress you.” – Randy Pausch

I think we have waited long enough to find the perfect person, for the perfect reason, to represent all of the skilled trades. We need to look right in front of us, or around us and we will discover that we have what we’ve been looking for all along.

There are trusted voices all around us; we need to stop looking so hard to find them. Instead, we need to start looking at who we have and accept them for who they are and provide them an opportunity to change the game.

As the industry becomes more diverse, not only in terms of generation but also other attributes, we must take time to understand and provide opportunities. The more we can understand each other, the better we can work together – and then, by default, the more we can trust each other.

In an article for Harvard Business Review, Rebecca Knight offers some practical advice that can help ensure positive interactions:

  • “Don’t dwell on differences.” There seems to be a tendency to focus more on what is different about each generation than on what similarities might exist.
  • “Build collaborative relationships.” We understand and appreciate others more when we have the opportunity to get to know them.
  • “Study your employees.” Understand the demographics of your workplace as well as employee communication preferences.
  • “Create opportunities for cross-generational mentoring.” This can work both ways—don’t automatically assume that younger generations will be mentored by older generations.
  • “Consider life paths.” Understand where your employees are in their life paths related to their responsibilities and interests outside the workplace.

I would also like to add a personal spin: Create a “community-like” team culture. The living expression of culture in everyday life—anyone's culture— is learned and passed on informally from person-to-person.

Currently, we have five generations in the workplace. We need to learn to work together, side-by-side, and tackle the challenges of tomorrow, today!

It STILL is and WILL Always be About the Details

Look internally: Who do you have that can be a game-changer? If you don’t have someone on the team, go recruit one (or more).

Just realize that you may want to look in different places than before. If you’re going to grow, change and win, you need to have a few “Trusted Voices” on your team, or as partners. If not, your team, customers and new hires may not trust your business.

Remember, if your team believes in your product and service, they trust you, your trusted voices, mission and vision – how can you go wrong?

As I noted in previous posts, people are our biggest asset. Prepare your team for sustainable, scalable growth, and be intentional when leaning into 2022!

Who is telling your businesses’ story? Are they a Trusted Voice? Let’s work together and change the narrative!

“The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” – Vince Lombardi

Have a question for the Coach? Want to learn more about any of the information above? Looking for transferrable examples of any of the topics discussed in this post? Or, would you like to request a topic for one of the upcoming Coach’s Corner posts? E-mail the Coach!

Until then,

Be Resilient – Add Value – Stay Healthy – Deliver the Experience - Trust the Process!

To your success,

“Coach” Rob Balfanz, Senior Director, Workforce Development, VSI