Getting the ball across the goal line

Nov 12, 2015

shutterstock_220112881There are probably many reasons why people have trouble completing tasks; here are some ways to solve the problem.

It seems to me, a common problem we all encounter these days – either with ourselves or people who work with us – is the ability to actually FINISH something. It’s a widespread issue, and one that’s rampant in the AEC business. Why is this? Is everyone too busy to finish the last 2 percent of work? Do people just get bored and move on to the next thing? Or, is it just that it seems like the other guy’s job? Whatever the cause, here are my thoughts on how to solve this problem:
  1. You need to be sure YOU aren’t the offender. It is one thing when someone else doesn’t finish up like they should. But it’s another when you, as the leader, don’t. It sets a horrible example. And it’s the same story you have heard many times: Lead by example.
  2. Make it the PM’s job. The PM is ultimately the one who HAS to finish. When he or she doesn’t, it could be that the PM hasn’t been functioning like a PM because the PIC is “too strong.” He or she might expect the PIC to wrap up all the details that need taking care of because the PIC has been doing more than they should have all along. Then, when it comes to final details, the PIC might not think that it is his or her job. Check into this.
  3. Lay out clear expectations. While I have never been a big fan of job descriptions, I do think there should be some clearly understood roles for everyone in the firm, particularly when it comes to projects. Who does what should not be a mystery. And what “finished” means must be defined. Not everyone has the same standards. Make yours high and let them be known to all.
  4. Celebrate endings! We’re done! Let’s make a big deal out of it! Let’s be happy! Too often the end of the project comes along and the only reward is another one just like it. The lack of finality and closure is alienating and hampers job satisfaction. Why cheat your people from this satisfaction? Make sure they finish, and then celebrate it!
  5. Counsel offenders. It’s ok to be patient with people, but those who routinely never complete tasks need to know you recognize this behavior pattern and that it is not acceptable. If you never confront it, then how can you blame someone for acting this way?
I don’t know about you, but I have little use for those who never complete what they start. I don’t have the time to pester them too many times. If I have to, I might decide they aren’t worth fooling around with, and go to someone else! MARK ZWEIG is founder and CEO of Zweig Group. Contact him at

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.