TZL 1452 (web)

August 8, 2022, Issue 1452 WWW.ZWEIGGROUP.COM


Voluntary turnover

People don’t leave companies, they leave managers – so make sure your managers have the skills they need to succeed. My boss is the worst

In Zweig Group’s 2022 Financial Performance Report , voluntary turnover was calculated among firm participants by dividing the number of employees who chose to leave their firm within one year by the total number of employees. Voluntary turnover was down in 2021 (7.4 percent) but jumped back up to 10 percent in 2022. Participate in a survey and save 50 percent on the final or pre- publication price of any Zweig Group research publication.

Y ou know who’s the worst? My boss. Ugh. Clueless about people. They [insert long list of flaws here], and they do it all the time. I enjoy what I do. I like my colleagues. I can’t take the BS for much longer, though. “People don’t leave companies, they leave managers.” This was a central message of the 1999 title First, Break All The Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently . The authors worked for Gallup and they based the book on a massive Gallup survey on the topic of management. I recommend the book without reservation. Of course, people leave companies, and professions, through no fault of anyone. But they also leave companies – often it turns out – because of their relationship with a front-line manager or supervisor. The book’s second core message is that different jobs require different “talents.” “Talent” is “a recurring pattern of thought, feeling, or behavior that can be productively applied.” An example that has stuck with me for decades was in nursing. Patients graded nurses with greater empathy as better compared to those with less of it. Think of two nurses, both equally skilled in giving shots. One nurse tells the patient “this won’t hurt a bit.” The other: “this will pinch a little for three seconds.” Empathy separated the great nurses from the others. We talk a lot in AEC about architects, engineers, and other technical professionals who are excellent at the craft but struggle after promotion to a management position. They struggle in part because they are still learning the skills required to move projects from start to finish. This includes – of course – the skills needed to lead and manage people. “Our managers would be better if they had some training.” Well, that’s true. Many people and project management skills can be taught. Zweig Group offers courses that move people along in that direction. I recommend those without reservation too. But the training won’t land as well if the person isn’t right for it. Hire for talent. Then develop the skills. This applies to management and supervisory roles too. In an ideal world, you’re selecting employees for those roles because

Tom Godin

FIRM INDEX Burns & McDonnell...................................4


Huckabee & Associates, Inc...............2


MORE ARTICLES n MERCEDEZ THOMPSON: I’m not here to make it pretty Page 3 n Creating meaning together: Sova & Platts Page 6 n PETER ATHERTON: Success from anywhere Page 9 n MARK ZWEIG: Seven habits of highly ineffective people Page 11

See TOM GODIN, page 2



TRANSACTIONS HUCKABEE & INC. ANNOUNCES STRATEGIC INVESTMENT FROM GODSPEED CAPITAL Huckabee & Associates, Inc., a leading technology- enabled architecture, engineering, and consulting services and solutions firm specializing in innovative design, planning, and infrastructure solutions for education facilities in Texas, announced that it has received a strategic investment from Godspeed Capital Management LP, a lower middle-market Defense & Government services, solutions, and technology focused private equity firm. The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. ASSOCIATES Through this investment, Godspeed Capital will partner with Huckabee leadership to establish the company as the platform brand for a new AEC services and solutions growth strategy focused on providing cutting edge, technology- driven education design and engineering solutions in attractive, high-growth U.S. markets such as Texas. Founded in 1967 and headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, Huckabee is the largest education architecture and design services firm in the state of Texas, which hosts one of the largest and fastest growing education facilities’ markets in the country, driven by increased family starts and rising school enrollment. Throughout its history, Huckabee has focused exclusively on the planning and design of innovative learning environments in Texas, primarily in the K-12 public education

market, but also now expanding into early learning centers, higher education, and museums. The company is consistently ranked as one of the top education architectural design firms in the nation and has built a reputation for commitment to technical excellence, design innovation, and client-centered solutions. Huckabee has over 240 highly accredited employees across six offices. Huckabee has made significant internal investments to develop their own education design technology and software tools which have helped position them on the cutting edge of innovation and efficiency. The Company built an education design laboratory, the LEx Collaborative, in partnership with Baylor University to showcase innovations in K-12 learning environments. Huckabee is consistently recognized for its innovative design achievements and work environment by prominent organizations and publications such as the American Institute of Architecture, Engineering News Record, Architectural Record, Building Design + Construction, the Zweig report, and others. Godspeed‘s partnership with Huckabee aligns with the firm’s government focused investment strategy, as the education facilities market in the U.S. is largely funded by State Government issued bonds. Godspeed and Huckabee intend to expand their reach to government entities through an organic and acquisition growth strategy going forward.

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they’ve indicated interest in doing the job and they have demonstrated the “talents” it requires. For a people manager, has the person already motivated and coached others to improve? Held someone accountable? Created an atmosphere of trust with colleagues? Look for the talent. And then help them develop and hone the skills. For the record, my boss is not clueless nor is he the worst. I’m hoping that he reads this to the end. If I remain reachable at the email address below, you’ll know he did. Please check in with me, both out of concern and if I can help you with anything. Tom Godin is a strategic planning advisor at Zweig Group. Contact him at tgodin@ TOM GODIN, from page 1

2022 ELEVATEAEC CONFERENCE & AWARDS GALA Registration is open for the annual in-person conference in Las Vegas, September 14-16. The 2022 winners of the Hot Firm list, Best Firms To Work For, Marketing Excellence, Excellence in Client Experience, Rising Stars, Top New Ventures, and the Jerry Allen Courage In Leadership Awards will be celebrated at the iconic black-tie awards gala. Register now for the AEC industry’s top learning and networking event of the year!

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I’m not here to make it pretty

It’s worthwhile to continue conversations around what marketing is and is not and why it’s critical to your bottom line.

I n recent years, we’ve finally seen the efforts of organizations like the Society of Marketing Professional Services and the Association of Proposal Management Professionals – as well as the grassroots work of marketers inside their firms – pay off. Marketing professionals are being recognized for the important role they play in brand awareness and differentiation, business development, and client satisfaction. Simply put, marketing is critical to profitability and people know it.

Mercedez Thompson, MA, CP APMP, Shipley BDC

For the most part. I truly believe we’ve made significant strides. In my 11-year career, I’ve witnessed and participated in targeted campaigns to help industry leaders better understand the value of investing in marketing and business development, as well as initiatives to boost awareness around women in the workplace and the need for meaningful diversity and inclusion practices. Most recently, with COVID-19 hovering relentlessly over every aspect of our lives, we’ve navigated difficult conversations about work-life fit, flexibility, and how firms can meet working parents where they are. For more on this, see the important work being done by ElevateHER.

Furthermore, we aren’t stopping at conversations – firms have taken a serious look at their policies and practices and begun pivoting to adapt to the modern workforce. The changes are paying off. The ROI on marketing and business development is well documented. Firms intentionally growing a diverse and inclusive culture reap the benefits of multi-faceted perspectives and experiences at the decision-making table. Recruiting, retention, and performance soar in work environments where health, balance, and happiness are prioritized. We are doing it.




BUSINESS NEWS BURNS & MCDONNELL AND PLTW ANNOUNCE THREE YEAR INVESTMENT IN STEM OPPORTUNITIES FOR STUDENTS Burns & McDonnell announced its commitment to giving $1.5 million over the next three years to implement Project Lead The Way programs with 100 percent of the donation going directly to schools across the U.S. Over the last 25 years, PLTW has transformed the learning experience of millions of PreK-12 students and their teachers throughout the U.S. by providing real-world STEM-based curriculum in

engineering, computer science, and biomedical science pathways. The partnership between Burns & McDonnell and PLTW will spark an interest in students for years to come and will empower the next generation of STEM leaders. Burns & McDonnell has partnered with PLTW to increase access to and participation in PLTW programs for underserved students within the Burns & McDonnell communities in states such as Arizona, Colorado, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Texas, and Virginia. Schools within a 25-mile radius

of Burns & McDonnell locations are eligible to apply for grant opportunities. This funding will assist PreK-12 schools in implementing new or expanding existing PLTW programs. “Our future depends on the next generation of STEM leaders and their ability to solve problems and uncover new solutions to tough challenges,” says Ray Kowalik, chairman and CEO, Burns & McDonnell. “We’re committed to PLTW and its mission to increase access to STEM learning opportunities for all students.”

worth of work, manage large teams of technical and marketing staff, communicate like the president’s public relations lead, sell like Amazon, write like a best-selling author, layout a page like the New York Times , develop a complex visual like a graphic designer, coach interviews like it’s March Madness. We want the best of the best. Then we get them, and managers undervalue their contribution and skill set by saying things like, “We will handle this, but we need you to make it pretty.” This sentiment becomes even more problematic when directed toward women, who have been historically associated with synonymous phrases like “doll up” or “glam up.” “Marketing professionals are being recognized for the important role they play in brand awareness and differentiation, business development, and client satisfaction. Simply put, marketing is critical to profitability and people know it.” A result of marketing should, in fact, be consistent, professional-looking, and aesthetically pleasing documents, proposals, collateral, and presentations, but that is neither the main goal of marketing nor where marketers add the most value. Marketers give you an edge over the competition and build business through market research, strategic planning, client development, proposal management, and brand recognition, among other activities. They help you think like your audience, develop clear messaging, and win work. It’s about time we modify our language and behaviors to reflect that contribution. As a proposal manager at Burns & McDonnell, Mercedez Thompson collaborates with business development and project management leadership to define distinctive value propositions and execute proposal win strategy within the Water practice. Connect with her on LinkedIn.


Yet, every time I get together with my peers for professional development, I am reminded of the long road ahead of us. As such, I think it’s worthwhile to continue the conversations around what marketing is and is not and why it’s critical to your bottom line. MARKETING IS NOT A CATCH-ALL. As a principal of an engineering firm, would you ever ask your electrical engineer to manage HVAC work? Or ask your bridge project manager to oversee the design of a wastewater facility? Probably not. For many reasons, but specifically because they were not trained in that discipline, it is not their area of expertise, and there are other people far better qualified for that work. So why is it that we expect our marketing staff to know anything and everything about, well – everything? A remnant from the days when marketing was expendable and often executed by administrative staff between other tasks, the inclination to throw everything at your marketers has lingered. Marketers are tasked with booking flights and hotels, ordering food and coffee, making reservations, and managing expense sheets. Marketers are asked to be IT professionals, HR reps, recruiters, personal assistants, corporate photographers and videographers, accountants, event planners, you name it. Marketers are often creative problem solvers with great attention to detail, excellent communication skills, and an aptitude for multi-tasking – making them the perfect go- getters to tackle varied tasks. When managers have a rockstar marketer with far-ranging skills and a desire to execute work outside of their job description, the least those managers can do is have a conversation about availability and compensation needs for additional work. Leadership affords technical professionals the respect of assigning them work that is in their wheelhouse and reasonably achievable. That level of respect should be extended to marketing professionals. MARKETERS DO MORE THAN MAKE IT PRETTY. Regardless of intention, this one never sits right. In fact, let’s just take it out of our vocabulary altogether. Typically, even entry-level marketing positions require a four-year degree. Lately, I’ve seen senior-level postings calling for an advanced degree or professional certification on top of 10 or more years of experience. We want candidates who win billions of dollars’

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presented by

Come learn, network, celebrate and recharge at the annual Elevate AEC Conference and Awards Gala, taking place at the Green Valley Ranch. The 4.5-star resort is located just far enough from all the bustle of the Las Vegas strip to offer the focus we need for the conference, yet just a short ride away where the glitzy entertainment awaits. Keynote speakers include Pete Hinojosa of Insperity, J.D. Enright of TMGcore, and Michael Renshaw of Trilon Group. We have 16 breakout sessions to choose from, and 4 roundtable sessions where you’ll have the opportunity to rotate through topics most relevant to you and your firm. Featured panels include “What makes a #1 Best Firm to Work For” from the award winners themselves, and a Hot Firm Panel Discussion on ”How Growth Solves Problems and Creates Opportunities” from the Top 3 2022 Hot Firms! We’ll see you in Las Vegas!

Friday Night Experience Blue Man Group Show Luxor Hotel & Casino, SEPT 16 Sponsored by Corporate Tax Advisors

Event Venue & Lodging Green Valley Ranch Resort, Spa & Casino

2300 Paseo Verde Parkway Henderson, NV 89052, US




Creating meaning together: Sova & Platts They are the CEO and president of RDG, a firm made up of architects, artists, engineers, landscape architects, and planners with a passion for design.


C reate. Meaning. Together. It’s these three words that bring leadership and staff together at RDG Planning and Design, and John Sova, CEO, and Justin Platts, president, work daily to maintain that culture of collaboration. In fact, it’s one of the reasons they decided to team up to answer questions about what makes them tick. A design firm that’s labeled itself “free from the disciplines,” Sova and Platts understand – at their core – that everyone at the firm has something to contribute and they work to place value on that in more ways than one. “We’re constantly working with and learning from each other,” Sova says. A CULTURE OF EIGHT. For Sova, one of his top responsibilities is to enhance and support the culture of its eight lifestyles (design, sustainability, healthy, leadership, continuous learning, technology, fun, and community). This translates into giving people the freedom to bring forward new ideas and to recognize and celebrate what people are doing, both inside

and outside the office. His goal is to let people find their own area of interest among the lifestyles and encourage them to make that a part of their work-life balance. Platts’ focus is on making sure people have what they need to be successful – professionally and personally. “It’s really about more than just the everyday work we do – the different lifestyles represent elements people have brought forward as being important to them and that align with our collective values,” Platts shares. And, while COVID threw a wrench into the system, it also helped the company to evolve in a way that is now more flexible and can accommodate everyone’s needs whether family, project, or personal. An increased flexibility when it comes to working from home or in the office is a response to the change in culture. “We’ve always been flexible, but now that flexibility has been codified,” Platts says. “We’ve established hybrid work as an institutionalized benefit.”



Overall, there was a smooth transition into this hybrid environment because RDG has always had teams and individuals working from all over the country, so they’ve intentionally built up a robust IT system in support of that approach. And it seems to be working. Not only has RDG developed a culture of trust among its staff, but also with its clients. Platts says that’s largely due to having the “say/do gap” be as small as possible. Sova agrees and emphasizes that you simply have to deliver what you promise. Within their teams, they’re always talking about how they can stay one step ahead of their clients so they can anticipate needs and expectations. “We’ve always been flexible, but now that flexibility has been codified. We’ve established hybrid work as an institutionalized benefit.” LIVING AND BREATHING THE MISSION. Anticipating staff needs is important too. When you walk into an RDG office, the work- life balance is evident. Platts says that if occasionally he has to work on a weekend, his kids have played on the floor and he’s been fortunate to be there whenever they’ve needed him. “Work and life are well integrated,” he says. Sova has been with RDG for 40 years and his family has been a part of that the whole time. They understand what he does and they’re proud of what RDG does as a company. “With everybody that I hire, I talk about my family, and I’m proud to tell them that I know I made 90-95 percent of all my kids’ activities when they were growing up. RDG takes a family-first approach, and that rings true in my own experience,” Sova says. In fact, it’s this overall family first culture that is among the things that staff gets most excited about. That – and being given the freedom to be creative and innovate. “People in our industry want that,” Sova says. “We have an open and collaborative environment that allows people to really do what they want to do and to not only work on projects, but actively direct and manage those projects.” There’s no hierarchy at RDG. They empower people at all levels to take ownership of their

work and their career path. They encourage flexibility in not just schedules, but also on the ability to move across project types. Additionally, RDG’s path to employee- ownership is faster than many design firms out there. “Our employees appreciate the opportunity to own a piece of the company and benefit from the success they’ve helped create,” Platts says. Much of that success is rooted in that “Create. Meaning. Together.” mission. The more they can be together, the more collaboration they have and the greater their perspectives, which makes them and their work better. In recent years, RDG has formed a DEI group to champion a goal of fostering a culture of empathy and understanding and to make the “together” aspect of their mission even stronger. And when people get hired, they also have access to numerous internal programs that promote leadership development and training. Because they’re a strengths-based organization, they really pay attention to people’s abilities so they can put them in positions where they will do well and provide ample opportunities for training and exposure to work and lead people. “People serve in people-focused roles because they want to be in that job, not because they feel like it is required for career advancement,” Platts says. COMMUNITY/SCHOOL OUTREACH BENEFITS ALL. “One of our eight lifestyles is community, and RDG for a very long time has been actively participating in our community, especially through school programs and youth outreach,” Sova explains. “One way to increase diversity across all disciplines is to generate more interest in design – to talk about what we do and to show students what’s possible in pursuing design as a career.” “With everybody that I hire, I talk about my family, and I’m proud to tell them that I know I made 90-95 percent of all my kids’ activities when they were growing up. RDG takes a family-first approach, and that rings true in my own experience.”

HEADQUARTERS: RDG’s leadership and workforce is distributed across the country, so the firm doesn’t refer to one location as its headquarters. NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 196 YEAR FOUNDED: 1965 OFFICE LOCATIONS: ■ ■ Denver, CO ■ ■ Des Moines, IA

■ ■ Iowa City, IA ■ ■ Omaha, NE ■ ■ St. Louis, MO ■ ■ And a significant

distributed workforce across the U.S.

MARKETS: College & University, Community & Regional Planning, Corporate, Early Learning, Government, Healthcare, K-12, Multifamily, Parks & Recreation, Public Art, Public Safety, Restoration, Senior Living, Senior Living Interiors, Sports, Urban Design, Worship SERVICES: Architecture, Integrated Art, Civil Engineering, Graphic Design, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture, Lighting Design, Multimedia, Strategic

Facilities Planning, Sustainability, Water Resources


© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

GUST 8, 2022, ISSUE 1452


RDG staff participating in the firm’s career development program.


That’s why RDG is active in working with higher education institutions on multiple levels. They have people who teach, lecture, and review student work, and they sponsor studios in colleges. They’re partnered with several colleges and universities on “real world work” and in working with those, in turn, they get access to technology and are able to get in front of talented individuals who are potential recruits. “We’ve been fortunate to attract quite a few students as interns because of our involvement,” Platts says. Higher education is also one of RDG’s top markets, so working with clients such as Creighton University, UNMC, and the University of Iowa exposes them to new ways that technology is being leveraged by owners and the users themselves. It’s largely this involvement in schools, community, and working “on” the business that has led to a recent growth spike. RDG recently hired 20-30 people to support its growth, and they attribute that to top management who mostly work “on” the business rather than “in” the business. They’re always looking for people who are interested in being a part of their organization and they’ve got a solid ownership transition plan in place too. in design – to talk about what we do and to show students what’s possible in pursuing design as a career.” “One way to increase diversity across all disciplines is to generate more interest

RDG staff biking to work together.

“We have to be intentional about the time it takes to prepare for the transition, both for the person coming in and for the person going out. It really takes years to do it well,” Platts says. RDG has had an ownership transition in place since 1989, and it’s worked well since then. They’ve been able to now transition to the third generation of leadership under this system and fortunately, ownership transition isn’t something they have to worry about day-to-day because the system has worked and continues to work. “We don’t want to lose sight that a big part of ownership transition is indeed leadership transition,” Sova says.

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Success from anywhere

“W ork from home” became a necessity with COVID-19. Then evolved the idea of “work from anywhere” – whether that be home, a local café, or other workspace. If we can establish trust, clearly communicate what winning looks like, and have a unifying mission and vision, we will never need to limit our success to any location.

Even as we work through the half-hearted attempts to bring our people back to the office, the organizational development and talent attraction and retention idea that I believe will stick is “SFA” – success from anywhere. What is SFA, and how can we make this work, especially among “back to the past” forces within us that have very likely already cost us in terms of missed opportunity and preparedness for our inevitable future state? Let’s leave the resistance to SFA aside for a moment because even the skeptics and the naysayers recognize the competitive disadvantages of not offering some type of work flexibility in this employee-driven market – hence the half-hearted and tempered calls for a full return to the office. We’ve been on a path to distributed work in the engineering and architecture space for a long time,

especially for those of us desiring to be “practice centered” versus office or geographic location based. The model that will best deliver the deep expertise and innovation that clients are demanding and optimize our internal talent development and workload management is decentralized and distributed, and this shouldn’t be limited to just full- time traditional employees. If we’re willing for good, valid, and strategically sound reasons to have talent from different company- logoed offices work on different projects for different principals and managers, what’s the difference if they’re sitting in a home office or local co-working space as long as the work is getting done? And there’s the rub: the questioning about whether the work is getting done.

Peter Atherton




consistently and authentically exhibit each of the following five elements: † † Competence. Our ability to fully understand our role to deliver what others need and expect from us in an economically viable manner. † † Acceptable actions and behaviors. Our ability to operate morally, ethically, legally, and with fairness in terms of both approach and holding ourselves and others to account. † † Motivations beyond self. Our ability to demonstrate why we do what we do and that we’re serving the interests of others, including our teams and team members. † † Impact. Our ability to show actual results and a track record of success. † † Right responses to the unexpected and unintended. Our interest and ability to step up, acknowledge, and appropriately take care of what went wrong. These are of course the exact same elements we’ll want to teach, incentivize, and reward throughout our organization no matter where our talent resides. There’s also the reality that the professional work environment has changed, and that more flexibility must be afforded individuals and teams to design and begin to live more “ideal days” to end the chaos and become more productive, less frustrated, and less apt to disengage or burnout. These elements and attributes of trust, however, can only be realized through consistent modeling and commitment from the top. If not, we really shouldn’t expect any meaningful long- term success at any level or location. Long-term and sustainable success never happens by accident. It requires relevant and effective leadership plus a whole lot more – including having great teams. If we’re able to establish and maintain trust, clearly define and communicate what winning looks like at all levels and for all functions, and have an inspiring and unifying mission and vision, we will never need to limit our success to any single or set of logoed buildings. That said, creating the conditions to cash in on successfully getting the work done from anywhere with greater flexibility will very likely increase the likelihood that your talent will want to spend more time in the office with colleagues when necessary and beneficial – and possibly even most of the time if and when accessible. A true win-win! Peter C. Atherton, P.E. is an AEC industry insider with 29 years of experience, having spent more than 24 years as a successful professional civil engineer, principal, major owner, and member of the board of directors for high-achieving firms. Pete is now the president and founder of ActionsProve, LLC, author of Reversing Burnout. How to Immediately Engage Top Talent and Grow! A Blueprint for Professionals and Business Owners , and the creator of the I.M.P.A.C.T. process. Pete is also the host of The AEC Leadership Today Podcast . Connect with him at pete@

PETER ATHERTON, from page 9

Despite being proved effective during COVID-19 and despite record-high industry profits, work from anywhere other than the formal office is still not embraced by too many at the top. Unfortunately, this is also adding friction and frustration into too many organizations at a time when we can least afford it. Whether we’re trying to effectively coordinate getting work done across regional offices, leverage the power of a hybrid team, or live the full expression of a “mixed-hybrid” business model which leverages a team of full- and part-time employees and independent professional freelancers, the elements for SFA are the same and include: ■ ■ Having a meaningful mission and vision. It’s really hard to imagine a fully co-located organization thriving long-term without a meaningful mission and vision and compelling set of core values. These are even more important to have when our talent is spread out. Putting in the work to define why you exist and the change you want to see and help manifest in the world, however that’s defined, is a critical unifying force that helps individuals and teams transcend today’s tasks – whether you seek to attract, engage, and motivate “missionaries” or “mercenaries.” ■ ■ Clearly defining and communicating success. Ineffective teaching, collaboration, and delegation alongside “just- in-time management” and last minute quality control with limited feedback doesn’t work in the office or anywhere else. No matter our location, sustainable success requires that winning be clearly defined and understood at each stage of any endeavor. In our case, hours must be replaced by agreed to outputs and outcomes. These, along with a clear set of go-bys, how-tos, and routine and effective one-on-one and team communication, are essential for this new era. ■ ■ Establishing and maintaining trust. Do you think of today’s professionals as non-committed old time factory workers requiring constant supervision to ensure they remain productive? If so, it’s just a matter of time before all your office walk-throughs and parking lot drive-bys drive most of your high achievers and high potentials away physically or in terms of level of engagement. We all know that trust is essential for any real relationship to succeed, particularly a vulnerable type of trust. Workplace compliance does not equal trust, nor do hours spent in an office on a project mean that a client’s problem is solved in the most efficient or effective manner. It also doesn’t mean that an opportunity to innovate, collaborate, or build organizational value in terms of a new or enhanced process or system was capitalized on. In a work context, trust is foundational to high functioning teams and organizations. If we want to enjoy all the benefits of trust, we, as leaders, must be willing and able to establish and maintain it. We must also be willing to extend it to others. The type of trust needed for success requires that we

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We’ve all heard about the attributes of highly effective people, but what about the habits of highly ineffective people? Seven habits of highly ineffective people

W e are outside Santa Fe at my brother and sister in-law’s place way out in the middle of a national forest. There isn’t a whole lot to do here other than hike, eat, and talk. We got into a conversation about Franklin Covey Planners last night and how my sister-in-law used to completely rely on them, and that got me thinking about Stephen Covey. Of course, that then led to a discussion of his best seller from long ago, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People .

Mark Zweig

Over the years, I have written a lot – based on my own observations and Zweig Group research – about the attributes of highly effective people. But what about the seven habits of highly ineffective people? As a lifelong student of human behavior in this industry, I have certainly met and worked with many of them who were principals and managers in AEC firms. So here it goes. Following is my list of the seven habits of highly ineffective people – particularly those who are owners and managers of AEC firms: 1. They are endless planners but infrequent doers. If there is one thing that is most important for those who want to be effective at whatever they do it’s that they have to DO . This takes action. Ineffective people get stuck in planning – an endless cycle of “what ifs” – always needing

more information to make a decision. Or even worse, they get stuck at the still earlier stage of fantasizing. They fantasize about the possibility of success but don’t take any of the actual steps necessary to achieve it. This keeps the dream alive if you never try. Success belongs to doers, not planners. 2. They have little to no empathy. Ineffective people are ineffective in part because they cannot put themselves in the other person’s shoes. As a result, they aren’t good at managing people or selling their ideas. And this doesn’t help them win over friends, either, because they often seem harsh and overly judgmental. That leads other people to wonder what these ineffective leaders and managers think about them.

See MARK ZWEIG, page 12



TRANSACTIONS EYP STRENGTHENS ITS POSITION FOR CONTINUED GROWTH EYP, an interdisciplinary design firm specializing in the higher education, healthcare, government, and science and technology sectors, announced that it has reached an agreement through which Ault Alliance, Inc., would serve as a stalking horse for the purchase of substantially all of its assets of the Company for $67.7 million, plus the assumption of significant liabilities associated with on-going operations as part of a going-concern sale of the Company. Under the terms of the stalking horse agreement, Ault will retain all EYP’s well- regarded professional staff and acquire substantially all the Company’s assets including all its customer contracts. The agreement allows the Company, under its existing name and brand, to continue its history of growth and fulfill its business strategy for expansion and will provide long-term financial strength to augment its strong operational performance over the last few years. To achieve its financial objectives and facilitate the sale, EYP and certain

affiliates voluntarily filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. This process will allow for a prompt sale of the Company, while allowing it to maintain full operations during the sale process. As a result of this process, the Company will be able to address certain non-operating balance sheet liabilities and emerge as a stronger and more competitive force in the marketplace. The Company expects to complete the sale process in the next two months. “This is a positive step forward for the business, as well as for our employees, clients, sub-consultants and vendors, because it allows us to continue delivering memorable designs that enhance people’s lives and communities, while significantly reducing non-operating liabilities and allowing us to achieve our planned growth,” said Interim CEO Kefalari Mason. “EYP remains committed to our staff, to our partnerships with our clients and consultants, and to designing meaningful spaces.” EYP intends to continue normal

operations throughout this process, ensuring its continued ability to deliver projects and engage with clients. To this end, the Company has secured a commitment from Ault for new debtor-in- possession financing to ensure continuity of operations through the sale process. The Company also has filed motions that once approved by the Bankruptcy Court, will allow the business to continue employee wages, medical benefits, and other programs without interruption, and to pay sub-consultants and vendors on a timely basis for all goods and services delivered during the upcoming process. “EYP is a good candidate to use the protections that a Chapter 11 process provides. Our business is as strong as it has ever been and the advantages for the Company are that it allows us to continue doing the work we love while quickly moving through a sale process that further strengthens our financial position, allowing us to shape a future that matches our success over the last few years,” said Mason.

people have short attention spans in large part because they are constantly in a state of distraction. Whether it is their phone, email, or social media – or whatever the crisis of the day is – ineffective people lack focus and the power of concentration to get longer term tasks accomplished. They can’t get anything done as a result. The distraction state is a habit and becomes a “way of life” for these ineffective people. 6. They avoid all risk. Ineffective people see all risk as bad. They will only do things that have been repeatedly tested and approved by others. They think that is the “smart” way to operate. So they aren’t innovative as a result. Their businesses tend to be undifferentiated from their competitors, and usually go up or down with the state of the overall industry. 7. They let their minds focus on negative stuff versus positive possibilities. Because they are so risk-averse, ineffective people let themselves get into the habit of negative thinking. If you always think about what can go wrong, you aren’t going to do much. Your expectations of others are very low. This is obviously not the best way to manage people or lead a business. So how do you stack up in terms of these seven habits? Are you letting your bad habits hold you back? If so, develop some new and better habits! Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

MARK ZWEIG, from page 11

3. They are control freaks and lack trust. Ineffective people never think anyone else is as smart or capable as they are, so they are very poor delegators. That greatly limits their effectiveness and ability to multiply themselves. Their businesses or organizational units usually can’t grow beyond 20 or 25 people at most because every decision has to flow through them. Being unable to trust and delegate is a major contributor to their ineffectiveness. “How do you stack up in terms of these seven habits? Are you letting your bad habits hold you back? If so, develop some new and better habits!” 4. They are disorganized. Some people will try to tell you that creative people are inherently disorganized. I disagree. Many of the people I see who can’t get anything done live in a perpetual state of mess and disarray. They are always “too busy” to take the time to get organized. Their subconscious thinking is that it’s best to be continuously in crisis mode and then when they solve the problem (often brought on by their own inaction), they can be a hero. Disorganization is a major habit for ineffective people. 5. They are in a constant state of distraction. Ineffective

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