Managing by getting involved

May 13, 2019

“There’s a lot to know about your own business that you cannot know if you aren’t intimately involved with every detail of it at some point.”

If you look at the reasons many AEC businesses fail – or at least fail to reach their potential – you’ll find that their owners are not involved enough with their businesses.

Sometimes that means doing things that are far below your “highest and best” use. There are many reasons for this. Of course, it is motivational to the lower level workers to see the boss being willing to do the very jobs that they have to do every day. But more than that, the boss gets to see firsthand what the problems and frustrations are with the way work is being done. You also get to hear the chatter of the workers, which can also be educational.

One of my friends owns a regional chain of pizza restaurants. He has 10 “stores” in total. He started the business 25 years ago and does eight figures revenue-wise annually. But he also still gets involved in every single aspect of his business, including delivering pizzas during their busiest times. He told me once that if you really want know what your business is all about, there’s nothing better than cleaning bathrooms. You see and hear everything.

AEC firms aren’t all that different. We’d like to think we are, but we aren’t. We still have people. Some of them are dysfunctional or in the wrong roles. We still have legacy systems – ones we have had for a long time but may no longer serve us well. We still have clients. They have their specific wants and needs that the business has to meet or exceed.

If you, like many of our readers, are an owner or manager in your firm, you need to get out on the floor and see what is really happening with the projects your people are working on. Get there early and stay late to see who is actually committed. Open the mail to see who is paying and what your bills are. Get copied on all inquiries from those who want more information coming from your website. Hang out in the HR department to see who is calling in sick too often or causing morale problems with other employees. Go sit in the marketing department to see what their workload is and how they are handling it. Spend time with your accounting people to see who won’t turn in their time sheets and expense reports and who is holding up billing. Get to know the IT person so you can see if their head is screwed on straight.

There’s a lot to know about your own business that you cannot know if you aren’t intimately involved with every detail of it at some point. There is so much to learn and it will be energizing for your people to see you in action!

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.