Time for a clean up!

Jul 07, 2003

Spring has sprung and we are now into summer. And while some firms are having record years, more companies are not doing so great. This has resulted in diminished expectations for the owners and employees of A/E and environmental firms… at least temporarily. Firms are not growing as fast, raises aren’t as good, and benefits are in some cases being reduced. And even if our firm is doing well, there’s not a lot of good news in the external environment. A lot of folks have a mild case of the blues. One thing that I have found always boosts morale and improves the sense that the individuals in the firm are in control over their own destiny is to get organized and clean up. It just feels good to shed some of the clutter from the past so you can concentrate on the present and the future. Here are some things that you ought to do THIS WEEK in your office: Clean up offices and cubicles. Get all the dead project files filed. Go through those “paper piles” most of us have and throw out anything you can throw out. Dump last year’s greeting cards. Take home a box of personal knickknacks that you accumulated over the last 10 years. Put new batteries in your desk clock. Get rid of your 1972 college textbooks you haven’t looked at since 1973. Throw away your Texas Instruments SR-51 calculator. It is not going to ever be worth anything! Clean up the kitchen. Take a look at your coffee pots. When was the last time they were cleaned? How about the water coolers and the inside of the refrigerators? Clean them. And the cabinets… do you really need 103 mismatched coffee cups and Tupperware bottoms with no lids? Trash them. Get rid of everything you don’t need, wash the counters, scour the floors, clean the salt shakers, and throw away yesterday’s stale Dunkin’ Donuts. Clean up the library. Why are you saving 1996 copies of Computer Age? Why do you save every newsletter from every professional society any of your employees belongs to? Let’s go through this stuff and clean it all out so you and your people can find what they really need when they need it. Clean up the store room. Broken desk chairs should be pitched. Obsolete survey equipment should be sold on EBay. Old computers should be taken to recycling. Boxes of 1994 open house invitations should be recycled. Paint cans from the 1987 paint scheme of your other office three offices ago should be thrown out. Get rid of the 1991 phone system (stored in eight separate boxes!) that you replaced in 1998. Clean up the reception area. Toss the old magazines. Clean up the reception desk. Do you really want tape all over the front door from the delivery guy who posted notices there? Straighten out the chairs in the office lobby. Throw away all the mismatched hangers in the coat closet along with “Jane’s” moth-eaten tan wool cardigan (Jane retired three years ago!). Clean up. Clean all of your company vehicles. Run all of them through the car wash. Get their wheels cleaned and give them a cheap wax job. Vacuum interiors and wash windows. Get those who are assigned company cars to remove some of the personal and work garbage that they have been carrying around. Clean out your parking lots and office sites. If you have employees who own inoperable, junk cars that they have elected to leave in the company lot, tow ‘em off. Sell off unused trucks. Park any trailers you have in one place and as far out of sight as you can. Clean the weeds out of the cracks. Blow off the lots. Reseal the asphalt and restripe if it needs it. Fix other stuff. Hang the pictures that are still waiting to be hung. Put up some images of recent projects. Is the Formica peeling on Ralph’s desk? If so, fix it. If the paint needs touching up, do it. Consider painting some accent walls to bring in some color. Create an employee art wall and solicit contributions for it. Straighten out bent Venetian blinds. Replace the toilet flush valve in the men’s urinal that always sticks. Put new light bulbs in every light that is burnt out. Put three-way bulbs in three-way lamps. Make sure all public clocks have the correct time. Change any signs with the company name on them if the name is no longer correct. Clean up your computer files. Have you run a disk clean-up lately? If no, why not? Defragment your hard drives. Archive your old e-mails. Get rid of unneeded PowerPoint presentations. Delete photo images you will never use. Clear unused icons off your desktop. Clean up your staff. Tell the guy who refuses to wear anything other than baggy shorts to the office that that is no longer acceptable. Take your PM who doesn’t own a sport coat over to the Men’s Wearhouse and get him one. Tell everyone that they need to be ready to meet a client at any time and they really need to consider what kind of impression they will create. Get yourself a new haircut or hairdo. Buy some new shoes if you need them. Toss out your 17-year-old raincoat and get a new one. You do all these things and then let me know if you (and your staff) don’t feel just a little bit better. I’ll just bet that you— and they— will. Originally published 07/07/2003.

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.