Sometimes I have a variety of thoughts I want to share with our readers but none of them merits a full 500- to 1,000-word editorial. This week is one of those weeks. Here are a few things that have been on my mind:
- People in the A/E business are so honest and ethical that those of us who have spent our careers working in this industry are unequipped to deal with dishonest/unethical people. What that means is we are vulnerable because we are too trusting! That makes it easy for dishonest people to steal from us. My theory is that this is one reason – among several – that A/E firms struggle with at-risk design/build projects. Keep your guard up, friends – and be careful what clients you work with, what people you do business with, and who you hire.
- You need young people! You may not think they can do anything when you hire them but believe me, your firm will get out of step with technology, work environment, and more if you don’t have a steady stream of young people joining it. Not to mention the energy they bring! The fact is us old farts may know a lot of stuff but times are a-changing! And the younger folks are the ones to keep us in-tune with those changes.
- Facilities are a big deal. People may complain when they are jammed together but too much space will kill the buzz and turn your firm into a morgue. I have seen a couple spaces recently that blew me away. Architects lined up at tables against a wall – each one with about 4 feet by 30-inches to work in. With rents costing what they do in San Francisco, Boston, and New York, I think people working in little spaces will have to become more common. Are you wasting space?
- Individual people behave in largely predictable patterns. As a manager, you need to understand those behavioral patterns for each of the people who work for you. Try not to put them in situations where their expected response would be less than desirable. Get people into the roles that they are most likely to succeed in, and don’t jam round pegs into square holes (if you are smart). You know what people are going to do. Don’t try to change them. It’s frustrating and futile!
- “Reply to all” is a scourge on all of us! What an incredible time-waster this is for everyone. The amount of reading and deletion – or if not deleted – server space wasted by reply to all emails in A/E firms is staggering. My advice is put a stop to it! You have to address this or it will become cultural in your firm.
- Texting is becoming a bigger and bigger part of how people communicate today. If you are one of those people who “doesn’t text,” you better get with the program and learn how to do so quickly. If you don’t you won’t be able to be as responsive as you should be today.
Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.