This month, Engineered Systems highlights 20 more women who have excelled in the HVAC industry. All of them come from different backgrounds and have pursued their professional dreams in different segments of the building industry as consultants, contractors, equipment manufacturer representatives, operations and/or maintenance personnel, or company owners. In years past, I have used this column to reinforce the need for our industry to be more diversified. This diversification must include all minorities. A phrase I’ve used in the past pertaining to managing people in the HVACR business is, “You need to surround yourself with the very best talent if you are to be successful. You cannot achieve this success by hiring only white, Anglo-Saxon men.” Everyone comes to the team bringing their experience, education, personality, ideas, and commitment to contribute. I have had the benefit and job satisfaction of having co-workers of different ethnicities and genders working with me. But, diversity of employees goes beyond those traits. Diversity also applies to establishing employees’ goals and expectations. Years ago, my boss and mentor told me, “You can’t have a whole bunch of Howie McKews working with you.” His point was, he thought I was setting expectations too high for some individuals working in my group, and I realized he was right. Hiring a diverse group of employees facilitates diversity in each individual’s professional and personal goals, which further motivates employees to enjoy their work and time away from work. 

I saw many workers reach and even exceed their own expectations while others would be perfectly fine fulfilling an employee job description with very little initiative to change what they were doing. One individual I worked with was quite happy designing central plants. He recognized the limitations he was placing on himself and knew and accepted the shortfall from specializing but he had other interests that did not include going to night school to become an engineer. This didn’t make him a bad employee. In fact, he was the one you would want designing your central boiler, chiller, and air-handling plants.

Diversity comes in different genders, ethnicities, ages, beliefs, and education levels. The diversity of an employee’s goals and expectations is just as important as his or her skin color or gender. As a manager, one should recognize that not everyone wants to climb the full ladder of success. This doesn’t make these individuals lesser employees than those who do. Diversity of employees and employees’ expectations go hand in hand. A manager should recognize that not everyone wants the boss’s job. The manager needs to evaluate a person by his or her job description first and then the employee’s professional goals and expectations.