It dawned on me the other day when we had to order new business cards and were reviewing job titles for our people in my design/build/contracting/development company that we have a big problem. It seems like the managers and processors are outnumbering the people who actually DO the work of the business. There simply aren’t enough “doers.” That makes it difficult to get things done.
I don’t think we’re alone. I think it is a problem that runs rampant throughout the entire AEC industry. “Why is that?” you may ask. There are multiple contributors to the problem, including:
- No glamor in doing. Everyone wants to be someone who has people working for them. That’s a lot more glamorous than being a CADD tech or grunt-level engineer or someone who goes out and cuts brush on a survey crew. The problem is we NEED those people. They are why (in large part), our clients pay us. And the culture we live in doesn’t celebrate doers – with a few exceptions. Shows like Dirty Jobs that promote the people who actually DO work are a rarity.
- Managers/leaders who don’t “do.” If the managers don’t do any actual work, you can’t blame the employees for not wanting to, either. The example is set and the pattern of the organization’s culture is established at the top. The managers set the example.
- Pay is better for managers. Everyone knows you make more money as a manager than you do as someone who is told what to do by a manager! So one can expect to have more people aspiring to be managers. Pretty simple!
- People are inherently lazy. My old business partner, Fred White – a super hard-working fellow – used to say “smart people are lazy.” This leads one to understand why so many don’t want to do. Doing is hard work – and that’s to be avoided!
Bottom line: We need more doers. The overhead of non-doers will crush us if we aren’t careful!
Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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