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have transitioned back to the office, we developed long-term options for flexible work hours and part-time telecommuting, and our employees have really taken to it. “We focus on flexibility and adaptability. If we can react to changing environments quickly, we will have the greatest opportunity for continued success.” TZL: How much time do you spend working “in the business” rather than “on the business?” DG: We posed this question to our Practice and Corporate leadership just last week, and it really varies from person to person. In general, as a growing company, we are consistently facing that struggle of folks transitioning from working in every project to leading teams and leading leaders. 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? DG: We are trying to be better at determining who might be good people managers in the first place. It used to be that if you were a good engineer, you got promoted out of it. As we grow, we are putting a hard focus on identifying who should follow a people management career path while also developing good rewards for those following a technical track. TZL: Is change management a topic regularly addressed by the leadership at your firm? If so, elaborate. DG: The saying, “the only thing constant is change” is probably incorrect. Change doesn’t seem to be constant. It is accelerating. Just look at 2020. Moreover, trying to predict every little change is probably not a good use of time either. We focus on flexibility and adaptability. If we can react to changing environments quickly, we will have the greatest opportunity for continued success. TZL: How do you handle a long-term principal who is resting on his or her laurels? What effect does a low- performing, entitled principal or department head have on firm morale? DG: Maintaining a leadership team that shares our core values is non-negotiable.

We can work on slumping financial performance. We can lift each other up when one part of the company is in a valley. However, we can’t do that unless we’re all in alignment and working together. TZL: How often do you valuate your firm and what key metrics do you use in the process? Do you valuate using in-house staff or is it outsourced? DG: We use an outside firm to place a valuation on our business. It is just a better way to get past feelings and biases. It has worked well thus far. TZL: You were picked as a Zweig Group 2020 Hot Firm. What do you most attribute your fast growth and positive economic outcome to? DG: We are a very faith-based organization. We try to operate by the core values of honesty, humility, self- control, and generosity. When all of our team members are in accord to live out those values and work together, growth and positive economic outcomes will typically follow. “You obviously need some level of experience and expertise to become a leader, but that is secondary. There are no magic numbers set on years of experience or dollars generated. Character comes first.” TZL: What have been the greatest challenges during this growth period? How resolved? DG: Well, I wouldn’t say that all of our challenges are ever totally resolved. I think our challenges are not at all unique. Twenty years ago, we had three employees, so over time we’ve faced all of the expected tasks of developing HR policies, accounting systems, managing a vehicle fleet, etc. I think the key is to always try to improve something every day. If you look at it all at once, it will be too much for you. Just improve one thing every day. TZL: They say failure is a great teacher. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve had to learn the hard way?

HEADQUARTERS: Oklahoma City, OK NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 216 YEAR FOUNDED: 1966 NUMBER OF OFFICE LOCATIONS: 4 SERVICES: ❚ ❚ Airport planning and design ❚ ❚ Bridge design and inspection ❚ ❚ Construction engineering and inspection ❚ ❚ Facilities ❚ ❚ Materials testing ❚ ❚ Power delivery ❚ ❚ Surveying and mapping ❚ ❚ Transportation planning and design ❚ ❚ Water distribution ❚ ❚ Wastewater collection COMPANY CULTURE: Service is at the heart of CEC’s culture – community service, employee development and outreach. CORE VALUES: Humility, honesty, self-control, and generosity PURPOSE: Get Stuff Built Right ® – Relationships, communities, families. VISION: Eliminate aging infrastructure and drive community growth.


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UARY 25, 2021, ISSUE 1376

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