Editorial: Business success and self-image

Jul 29, 2013

Technical professionals are affected by failure too. Mark Zweig offers four examples.

Many people think engineers and architects don’t really care about whether or not the company they work for is profitable. “They just want to be left alone so they can work on their projects.” “If the projects are good they don’t care about the company.” “They don’t know anything about business or the numbers of the business so bad financial news doesn’t sink in.” While I’m sure there is a certain amount of truth to some of these statements, one thing I do know: no one likes to be part of something that loses money. It is bad for the self-image of the individuals involved. The significance of this has been driven home to me more than once – with cases involving both client companies and my own businesses. You would expect losing money to be a “kick in the stomach” to the owners but not necessarily the employees. But it is to them also. Think about it:
  1. Their résumé will be forever linked to their employers. If the employer declines and/or ultimately fails, they’re tarnished, too.
  2. Their pay is tied to the success (or lack of it) of the enterprise. Unprofitable companies or unprofitable units inside companies usually find themselves unable to take care of good employees at some point.
  3. Their personal development slows down. Training and other off balance sheet investments typically stop when the firm or unit becomes a loser.
  4. Their stress increases. The water cooler banter about lack of success takes its toll on morale for everyone. Other employees gripe about being dragged down by groups that aren’t profitable. Constant fear that the ax may fall puts people under a lot of stress. Some take it home and end up with marital or other family relationship problems as a result.
If you are the owners, it is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to fix your firm or any unit in it that isn’t a solid contributor. Sometimes that means changing management, reducing staff and other overhead, reallocating project workloads, changing pricing, and many other things. You need to take action – do it – for the benefit of your people who work in this organizational unit or your firm. The economic recovery is well underway, particularly in this bellwether industry we are all a part of – design and construction. Any rationalization for non-performance at this point is just that. Being a loser is bad for your self-image. As they said once in an old Saturday Night Live skit, “Do it for the people!” Mark Zweig is the chairman and CEO of ZweigWhite. Contact him with questions or comments at mzweig@zweigwhite.com. This article first appeared in The Zweig Letter (ISSN 1068-1310), issue #1017, originally published 7/29/2013. Copyright© 2013, ZweigWhite. All rights reserved.

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.