Chatter from the back of the room

Mar 20, 2022

Just because you hear other firm leaders are pushing for something, that doesn’t mean it’s right for your firm.

I’m seeing a lot of articles online and in print about how much time is ideal for office workers to work in the office, now that it appears safer to work in any office. It’s an interesting topic.

Here is my conclusion: Everyone is different and has different life circumstances, as well as different kinds of tasks they do every day. So there is no one “best” answer to this question. Maybe we should figure out what our individual workers want and try to accommodate them if possible. It is an employee-driven job market after all, and the AEC industry is facing unprecedented demand for what we do. Let’s be smart and not just use a broad brush to mandate what the work requirements/setup will be for everyone without considering their individual needs. I know this will be difficult for a lot of our readers to do because you like “standardization” when you can have it, but believe me, it’s going to be necessary. And yes – if you asked me about this 10 years ago, I would’ve said “everyone must be back in the office.” But I have learned.

I have also noticed everyone wants to use personality profiles these days. These things are supposed to explain why we each behave the way we do and how we are supposed to be handled by our managers. I don’t like them for several reasons. First and foremost, they seem to excuse all sorts of inappropriate behavior. It’s like, “Joe acts like a jerk but he is a D-F-A-R, and he can’t help it.” I’m going to call B.S. on this stuff and anything else that justifies or explains someone’s dysfunctionality.

I also cannot believe how often firms in our business are using these instruments for pre-screening candidates they are considering hiring. I have said it before, but apparently need to again. If you do not hire someone because of how they score on ANY personality test, you had better be in a position to prove that how someone scores on this test is a valid and reliable predictor of their on-the-job performance in that specific role. You won’t be able to do that, so don’t use them for screening. If you do and you don’t hire someone based on how they scored on the test, they could sue you. If the people selling these tests are telling you they are legal, they are probably correct. They aren’t illegal to use, per se. But one could argue they are discriminatory, and civil litigation is a real risk.

Lastly, fix your websites, folks. Your website is the first place anyone who wants to know more about your company is going to look – be that a potential client or employee – and has to have correct information. That means your CURRENT office address and phone number. It’s amazing how difficult it is to find those two very specific pieces of information on some AEC firms’ websites. And that is just the start.

There could be a bunch of other problems from featuring people who are no longer there, to highlighting projects that were in the news for all of the issues they had. Both are unacceptable. Spend some time and get it right! Let’s communicate some personality. Let’s have some candid photos. And how about peppering some client testimonials throughout? A blog that changes? Links to podcasts and YouTube videos? You can probably do more than you are doing now without a whole lot of work. Do it. 

Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

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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.