An opportunity to focus on you

Apr 20, 2020

Now could be the perfect time to give yourself and the workings of your firm some much needed attention.

Enough about COVID-19. It’s time to talk about what’s next – how can we emerge from this better and stronger? Right up until March we heard the same things from managers and leaders in AEC firms: everyone was extremely busy, having difficulty focusing on strategic plans, experiencing various operational issues but had no time to fix them, didn’t have enough focus on long-term business development. Does this sound familiar?

Suddenly we’re 40 days later and the picture has changed for many. Depending on your situation, now could be the perfect time to give yourself and the workings of your firm some much needed attention. Our research shows, and the stories confirm, many of you have been so busy with projects and clients you have not spent enough time on addressing poor performance, operational issues, planning for the future, or even taking proper care of yourself and your exit strategy. If you are afforded any extra capacity during this time, here are some great ways to focus on you and your firm:

  • Spend some time painting (the bigger picture). Now is a great time to open up the hood of your firm and look inside. Ask yourself what’s working and what’s not? Get to work defining a bigger and more resilient future for your firm. Now more than ever, employees need a vision of what tomorrow could look like and where their firm is going. Brush off your strategic plan and consider how your current situation changes things, both now and in the future. A good strategic plan includes feedback from employees and clients. Now is a great time to capture this valuable data while many are working from the privacy of their homes. This process will also keep staff and clients engaged with your business. An updated strategic plan will give your firm a competitive advantage as it considers the hurdles ahead as well as the resulting new opportunities in the market. Painting a positive and clear picture of the future has never been more important.
  • Spend some time growing – personally and professionally. Everyone can benefit from having a good friend or advisor to help coach them. Pick up the phone and talk to these people about yourself and the business. Now might be a good time to engage a professional executive coach, but if you do, get one who understands this industry. They can work one-on-one with you or your team to help improve performance and increase motivation. Working from home is a great opportunity to have these conversations in the privacy of your home. For the past two years, the number one benefit desired by individuals working in the AEC industry was training and career development –coronavirus does not change this. It is important to keep your people engaged and their career development on track. For those working from home, online group training is a great way to virtually gather your staff together and keep your culture strong while fostering development. This is especially important now as people are isolated and not getting the “daily shot” of culture in an office environment. Our company is doing a “Virtual Happy Hour” each Friday which has been a great way to stay in touch and keep everyone on the same page. Our M&A team is doing a weekly book club, currently discussing a chapter a week of George Christodoulo’s A Guide to Mergers & Acquisitions. Gather your people together virtually for more than just work meetings. They need it!

As with every crisis or disaster in history, people are coming out of the woodwork offering an “elixir” for this time. Try to minimize the distraction of the COVID webinars, endless conference call roundtables, and constantly changing projections in the news. Spend real time on you, and use this time of altered work structure to accomplish extraordinary things. Just coming off the Easter holiday, I’d like to offer you an “Easter egg” – if you call me at 501.551.2659 and share how your business is doing and how you are going to focus on yourself, I’ll send you a copy of George Christodoulo’s A Guide to Mergers & Acquisitions or our Guide to Ownership & Succession Planning, free of charge. Both are great books to help you define a future for yourself and your company. Now is the perfect time to work on yourself and give others in your firm the gift of resources and attention focused on them. Maybe we will make these Easter eggs a year-round thing!

Chad Clinehens is Zweig Group’s president and CEO. Contact him at

Click here to view a message from Zweig Group’s principals, Chad Clinehens and Jamie Claire Kiser.

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About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.