TZL 1352 (web)


GG: The first thing we do is vet personality at the hiring stage. We adhere to a strict “no jerk” policy for hiring, which means I don’t care how much work you might bring in with whatever relationships you may have, we don’t want you. If a jerk does slip through screening, we take care of that swiftly, but our screening process has performed very well so far. We typically put candidates in front of several PGAers during an interview process, mainly for the jerk test. Our culture hinges on teamwork, kindness, and working well together – no room for jerks. Beyond that, we have invested in personality tests (we use Peoplemap) that give us insight into our folks. We continually look for ways to incorporate that knowledge into how we specialize our interactions with each other. We also seek opportunities to send our leaders to trainings to learn from other leaders on how best to lead and manage people. We participate in the Florida Engineering Leadership Institute (FELI), which is a six- session, year-long program that focuses on leadership strategies for engineers. Most importantly, we communicate with each other. We hold regular leadership meetings, which includes all people managers. We take these times to communicate the latest news from the company, but also to illicit feedback from folks and communicate expectations in terms of how we handle certain situations. TZL: What measures are you taking to protect your employees during the COVID-19 crisis? GG: The main thing we have done is extend our teleworking policy. We sent everyone home on March 17. We have since implemented a “Phase 1” reopening, but did not require anyone to return to the office. Only those who were comfortable doing so returned. For those now working in the office, we increased our office cleaning frequency to nightly, and managed to find hand sanitizer, gloves, and masks for each of our three offices. TZL: How are you balancing investment in the next generation – which is at an all-time high – with rewards for tenured staff? This has always been a challenge, but seems heightened as investments in development have increased. GG: We recently opened up ownership of the company to new owners. This initial sell was the beginning of a larger transition See ABOVE AND BEYOND, page 8

We’re currently building an internal database program that will allow project managers to enter a payout curve for each project, which can then be paired with payment expectations, resulting in a fairly reliable cashflow that can be extended out. The program will project cashflow for two years, but I would say that only the nearest three to four months could be considered very reliable. This same program will also function to guide our resource workload needs, so it should be a multi-purpose tool. The program will connect directly to our Deltek Ajera database, so there will be no redundancy in project entry; only minor data entry for each project. We are still in the development and testing stages of this work, so hopefully it’s as effective as we intend it to be. TZL: Are you using the R&D tax credit? If so, how is it working for your firm? If not, why not? GG: Yes, we are. It’s working great. It has literally saved us tens of thousands of dollars in taxes. Any AEC firm doing design work should take advantage. TZL: Since founding the firm in 2011, what is one of your proudest moments? GG: Winning a Zweig Group award, of course! While those are very fun to win, and are certainly a matter of pride for us, one moment that will always stick with me as a source of pride in our folks happened at about 2:30 a.m. one night, trying to get a submittal out. I was the project manager and engineer of record, working in our Tampa office for the day/night with the rest of the team. The project team was primarily myself and a project engineer, but we had all-hands-on deck this night to get it done. The pride came when I found myself in the corner (somewhat useless at this point) and the whole team was cranking along, having fun and constantly checking with each other on what they needed help on. At one point, someone realized something had been calculated or drawn incorrectly. Without hesitation, at probably around midnight, they set out to make the corrections. No blame was laid, no frustration – just a cohesive team working together to get to the finish line. All I had to do was buy dinner and answer a few questions here and there. This sort of thing has happened time and again at PGA. It fills me with pride. TZL: It is often said that people leave managers, not companies. What are you doing to ensure that your line leadership are great people managers?


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LY 13, 2020, ISSUE 1352

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