Love Thy Firm

Jan 07, 2002

I read somewhere once that being in love is a mental illness. All logic goes out the window. Rationality does not prevail. The ugly can become beautiful. Suffering is tolerable. Sacrifices can be made. Walls can be walked through. Thinking about the power of love (and I’m not talking about the Huey Lewis song from the eighties!) got me wondering how that could be applied to the workplace environment. I mean, wouldn’t it be great if our employees, clients, and suppliers all loved the firm so much that they didn’t see its warts, would gladly suffer along with it, made sacrifices to be with it, and were willing to walk through walls to help it? That sounds cool to me! With the benefits of doing it being so obvious, the big question is, how can we make people “fall in love” with the company? Here are some ideas: Be loveable. This means that the leadership and the firm are nice to deal with. It means saying you’re sorry when you make a mistake. It means doing good deeds in the community. It means taking care of a sick employee even though you don’t have to. It means giving away a little extra to a client in the name of service. Being loveable is behaving in such a way that others are bound to admire, respect, and like you. Don’t give anyone a reason to not love you. These reasons might be “bad habits” such as not paying your bills on time. Or perhaps yours is a firm that hires in good times and then lays everyone off at the first sign of clouds. Or maybe it’s a firm that tries to steal the client away from the other consultants who brought the firm into the job in the first place. Don’t be too needy. No one likes a needy mate— they suck the life force right out of you. Well, no one likes a needy firm either. By “needy” I am talking about a company that always has its hand out asking for more money or one that constantly needs to be stroked about how great its contributions to the job were. That gets tiresome, and it may lead to looking elsewhere for love. Don’t be greedy. It’s hard to love someone who’s greedy. It’s also hard to love a company that’s greedy. This is the firm that is cheap with the raises, bonuses, and benefits. It’s the one where employees are charged for coffee or other little chiseling things. It’s the company that lays every extra cost on the client or charges for every tenth of a minute worked on the job. These things may lead to being profitable on the project, but losing the client in the end! And that isn’t love! Don’t be too easily attainable. As much as I can’t play this game, the fact of the matter is that people all want what they think they can’t have. The lack of attainability equates to desirability. I’m talking about making it too easy to get a job at the firm. Or making it too easy to come back if you quit. Or making it too easy for a client to hire the firm by laying down in negotiations or always being willing to push a client’s job ahead even if they abuse you. It’s hard to love anything that is too easy. Don’t be jealous. No one likes a jealous spouse or dating partner. No fun at all! And why so untrusting? It’s restrictive. Same thing applies to a jealous company. Jealous companies talk ill of their former employees who quit to go elsewhere. And jealous companies run down the competition publicly every chance they get. Neither of these situations contributes to the love that people feel for the firm! I think it’s pretty obvious that love could be a powerful force to have on your side. Are you harnessing it for your business? Originally published 1/7/02.

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.