TZL 1381 (web)


LEADING CHANGE, from page 7

program (LDP). Led by the president, an LDP class has about eight to 10 of our leaders or future leaders and meets six to eight times for two days over approximately an 18-month period. It’s an intense learning experience with a lot of required reading and group discussions. Our graduates learn how to serve, lead, and create lasting change in a professional service organization. We strive to make our LDP groups diverse and from all around the company. Not only do our graduates leave with common language and knowledge, but with strong relationships with each other. These bonds can remain long beyond “graduation day” and provide a network of connections for those future leadership challenges. Our employee engagement survey consistently shows our “people leaders” excel at coaching, have great people skills, listen and communicate, train and develop, and create an environment that is comfortable for expressing views and opinions and concerns. As a result, our employee retention is consistently well below industry average. TZL: Ownership transition can be tricky, to say the least. What’s the key to ensuring a smooth passing of the baton? What’s the biggest pitfall to avoid? JB: Approximately 15 percent of our employees are owners, with mandatory age-related redemptions. Ownership transitions happen every year with some stockholders selling and others becoming owners for the first time. This has created decades of smooth ownership transition. We avoid the common pitfall of a handful of principals approaching the end of their career with most of the client relationships and all the ownership. That makes a smooth and successful transition very difficult and risky whether the buyer(s) is/are internal or external. TZL: Research shows that PMs are overworked, understaffed, and that many firms do not have formal training programs for PMs. What is your firm doing to support its PMs? JB: Often I think PMs have the most challenging job in our industry. We put our book of business on their shoulders – from planning, to writing a great contract, leading the team, delivering great financial results, and do this all while delivering an exceptional client experience! Our PMs have a strong Community of Practice where they (virtually) meet monthly to discuss lessons learned, best practices, a learning topic and support each other. We have a director of project delivery at the corporate level who leads a project delivery team that supports our PMs. TZL: How many years of experience – or large enough book of business – is enough to become a principal in your firm? Are you naming principals in their 20s or 30s? JB: There are many things we consider when inviting new owners. We look for an ownership group with good diversity – in generation or years of experience, age, gender, and/or discipline of practice. We strongly consider market or client leaders and top-notch technical professionals. We look for people who exemplify our people and business values. As a result, our owners are a good, balanced cross section of our employees including people in their 20s and 30s.

our candidate interview teams, our tasks forces, etc., we strive to create a team of people who think differently, who approach the problem differently, and will have a different perspective. And then we make sure they all have an equal voice and are heard. If we create an environment where all can speak, be heard, and are valued contributors to the team, we create an environment and culture that is engaging, and attractive to all. It takes constant work and intent, and it starts with the leadership. As one of my EDEI mentors says, “This is a journey with no end.” TZL: Artificial intelligence and machine learning are potential disruptors across all industries. Is your firm exploring how to incorporate these technologies into providing improved services for clients? JB: Our Design Technology and Innovation group’s mission is to stay focused on what is coming next. They have been working with AI, machine learning, and data driven design for some time now. Working with our project teams, this group researches and tests technology, and develops implementation and training plans for the technology we chose to deploy. This group helps keep us future-focused whether that is on machine learning or the potentially disruptive technology that pops up next. “Strong relationships have been an important part of my personal and professional growth. Throughout my career, I’ve had great mentors who have encouraged me to take risks, challenged me to see things differently, and supported me when things get tough.” TZL: You have more than 25 years of experience in the architecture and engineering industry. What’s the greatest hurdle you’ve had to face in that time and how did you overcome it? JB: This may be more of a life lesson than a hurdle. As I look back on the evolution of my career and my personal experience growing with the firm (from part-time engineer to full-time engineer, structural group leader, industrial sector leader to becoming office director/vice president, to president), it has been so important to constantly train others for these leadership positions. A Shive-Hattery value is to work yourself out of a job. The skills/approach needed is to have the generosity to train someone else and know they will be better than you. You have to be okay with that; it’s important to learn to let go and take on new roles that add value to the organization. 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? JB: We are a very decentralized and entrepreneurial company. This culture works because of great people leaders. And by that, I mean leaders who bring out the best in people. We have an in-house leadership development

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.


Made with FlippingBook Annual report