Editorial: Resentment for the money-maker

Nov 13, 2014

If you are a target of bitterness, here’s four tips from Mark Zweig on how to deal with it.

​On a recent flight to go see some clients in South Florida, Chad Clinehens and I were talking about how we’ve both witnessed an extremely dysfunctional situation in a number of firms we had both worked for: Resentment for one or more of the company’s top performers. In several of the cases we discussed, this “top performer” also happened to be the CEO in a multi-owner firm. We’re talking about the people who sell the most, make the most profit, and generally, make most good stuff happen at the firm. Yet some – or many of the other principals or partners – can’t wait to get them out of the firm and out of their way. It would be one thing if the people we are talking about were jerks or lorded their power or accomplishments over others. But the ones we are talking about aren’t. They are nice, self-effacing, and know how to treat others. You’d think everyone would love them, honor them, and thank them for all their help in making an outstanding living and creating a valuable firm. Instead, they are often the subjects of plots to get the King off his throne. So the question is: WHY are these money-makers resented and what can they do about it, if anything? If YOU are one of these people, here’s my advice:
  1. Don’t get distracted by it. Your goal – your need – is to perform. If you don’t perform, everyone suffers. So don’t get too worried if the lesser performers are jealous and talking trash about you. You have to do what you have to do anyway!
  2. Over communicate, particularly face-to-face. People have to know you care about them and that you are not a jerk. This is REALLY hard, especially if you are the busiest person in the company and travel a lot so you just aren’t there – and when you are, you’re backed up. It doesn’t matter. You need to make two or three times the effort other people do just the same.
  3. Do you best to share the credit. Always deflect praise to other members of the firm or your team. The more you can do this, the better. Other people will like you more. You know what you do, anyway. No need for you to be insecure.
  4. Do things that show how nice and compassionate you are. Every act of kindness from you will help you build up your goodwill reserve. It’s important that you – as a high performer – do this. While you shouldn’t be a target, you will be. Our firms are filled with insecure, egocentric people.
Do any of you have any ideas on this topic? If so, send ’em to me. Until then, I’ll see you next week! Mark Zweig is the chairman and CEO of Zweig Group. Contact him with questions or comments atmzweig@zweiggroup.com.
This article first appeared in The Zweig Letter (ISSN 1068-1310), issue #1080, originally published 11/17/2014

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.