Getting the most out of your people

May 19, 2024


Are your expectations for your people high enough, or are you letting everyone off the hook?

It’s time for brutal honesty. It has always bothered me when someone completely disconnects from work from Friday afternoon at 5 until Monday morning. They don’t respond to any emails or calls or anything on the company-wide communication/PM system. They completely shift out.

Sure, a complete disconnect from work could happen every now and again (although I never do that myself), but it’s when you see the pattern – the steady diet of it with people you desperately want to be fully engaged and part of the “team” that’s a problem.

I say it’s a “problem” not just because everything slows down and less gets done – maybe your business can tolerate that – but it’s really a problem for the employee who does this. Why is that, you may ask?

It’s because you aren’t doing them any favors by letting them think this is OK for a professional who wants to advance in their career and make more money to support themselves and their families. Because given a choice of who I trust and will give additional responsibilities and opportunities to, it’s not going to be someone who regularly shifts completely out.

I’m sure just writing this will elicit a response from someone out there who will get on their podium about the need for work-life balance and how dare I (as an employer) expect that kind of constant connection with work? And sure, I know not everyone we hire in every role will have this level of engagement. But you can call me “old school” or “out of step with today” or whatever you like, and you won’t stop me from my quest to build a highly committed and engaged team of people who don’t “shift out” every evening or weekend in any business I am a part of. Because I know that when I get enough of these people together in one organization – with a clear mission and some guiding philosophies about how we will do things and what our goals are – that’s when the magic is going to happen.

You see, the opportunity in business is never to just have a company that is viable and stays in business and provides a living for the owners. In the AEC business today where demand generally exceeds supply in most market sectors, you can be mediocre and do that. I don’t find “mediocrity and survival” very fun or interesting. It’s also not that rewarding. In my businesses, I’m going to push for more. Improvements in every single thing we do. Good enough is never good enough. It can always be better. And when it’s better for the owners, it is going to be better for every employee in the company. It’s just that simple.

It all starts with YOUR expectations for your people. Are they high enough? Or are you letting everyone off the hook with lower expectations for them versus yourself? You don’t need to be a jerk or rude to expect more. You don’t need to yell or scream or threaten those who don’t do it. You can be sure the expectations are known. You can drop hints. You can be disappointed when people don’t step up. You can set a positive example yourself. And you can promote those who do it to make examples out of them. Think about it! But better than that is to ACT on it.

Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. 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.