Select people who are compatible with you

May 15, 2017

We often talk about compatibility in the context of marriages. Oftentimes, when there’s incompatibility, one spouse tried to change the other. We all know how well that works out! It rarely does. If people aren’t compatible – it’s a bad marriage – they often end up in divorce.

In AEC firms, that same relationship exists between employees and their managers. They have to be compatible. If not, they too, get divorced. And like marital divorces, divorces between employers and employees are rarely fun for either side.

So compatibility is clearly a big deal. What are some common areas of incompatibility that result in the employer-employee relationship not working out? Here are a few of them that stand out:

  • Work ethic. If the boss puts in a lot of hours and a lot of face time at the office, it’s unlikely anyone who works for that person will be able to succeed if they, too, don’t have a similar work ethic. It’s just too much for a hard-working manager to look past if an employee is coming in late and cutting out early.
  • Quality standard. If the manager has really high standards – and the employee does not – that’s going to create a huge incompatibility problem. It will seem as if their VALUES are incompatible. The manager will likely be making all kinds of judgments – both good and bad – about the person. If bad, there will be a huge compatibility problem.
  • Communication style. There are many different facets to this. From a verbal standpoint, employees who use big words and obfuscate in their written communications will be judged incompatible with a boss who is very direct and plain-spoken. People who talk too fast won’t get along with those who speak slowly. Loud talkers will be incompatible with soft talkers. All of these “differences” can be a big deal to the manager.
  • Degree of responsiveness. Speedy responders will not work successfully with slow responders. Ditto for those who walk or drive at vastly different speeds.

By now you might be laughing and think I’ve lost my mind. But think about it. Aren’t these exactly the kinds of differences that get magnified for one reason or another and cause a manager to determine an employee isn’t working out for them? Hey – maybe we should develop a test to check for these and other potential areas of major differences? Could be a money-maker!

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.