“There’s a lot to know about your people. And we have to keep updating this information because your people are constantly changing.”
In an email to me this week, one of the more astute readers of The Zweig Letter pointed out an issue that exists in the solid majority of AEC firms: We don’t know what all the skills and interests are of those in our employ. And that’s a shame.
As many of you know, I teach at the University of Arkansas. Higher education institutions may do some wacky things but not everything they do is wrong. One of the things each of us on the academic side of the house has a responsibility to do throughout the year is update a database that includes everything we have done that year. Every class taught, research study published, talk given, article where we are quoted – every award we have received, class taken, voluntary assignment performed – everything goes in that database.
AEC firms need to do the same thing. It starts when people first join the firm. We have to inventory everything about them. It is so much more than registrations, education, and projects worked on. What about other skills? Foreign languages spoken? Software programs proficient in? Special areas of interest? Experience as a missionary in a foreign country? Oil painting? Poetry writing? Knowledge of how to fix bicycles? Teach yoga? Speed reading? Little league coaching? You get the idea. There’s a lot to know about your people. And we have to keep updating this information because your people are constantly changing.
You don’t know when this info will come in handy. It may help you sell a project. It may help you do a project. It may improve your ability to successfully promote from within. It may improve your ability to help your people self-actualize and, as a result, stay with your firm longer than they would otherwise.
So how does your firm stack up? Are you doing what you should to know what your people can do and what they are interested in? If not, maybe it’s time to do so!
Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.