Posts filed under ‘Business Development’
Relationship: the state of being connected
Engineering projects, project teams, department teams, clients, civil engineering recruiters all have one similar characteristic – RELATIONSHIPS. This includes our relationship with ourselves, our colleagues, our supervisors, our clients, our candidates. We cannot escape this inevitable connection.
How we treat others, through our words and more importantly our actions, will direct our success. It’s about being connected and trying to treat everyone with respect and consideration. If you have established, good relationships, no one can take them away from you.
As an architecture and civil engineering recruiter, I’m asked daily as to how I conduct my searches. My answer centers around the relationships I have established throughout my nearly 30 years of recruiting. Recruiting is a profession that is much more than a business. If done correctly, it involves understanding client needs, culture and personalities, and trying to make the best match with a candidate.
Those of us who love our jobs understand that we are dealing with people’s lives. We try to get to know our clients and candidates, and many become longtime friends. I find that the same can be said for just about all in the engineering consulting business or for that matter, any business.
Prior to the development of LinkedIn, connections were a bit more difficult to establish and sustain. It took a conscious effort. Today with the assistance of social media, a click of the mouse and I can reach thousands of A/E connections.
But with the ease of staying connected, are many consultants losing that ability to pick up the phone and keep the REAL connection? If you lost your job tomorrow, would your connections answer the phone if you called? Are your clients really YOUR clients or are they your company’s clients?
It’s all about relationships.
View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn
According to press announcements, there have been at least 30 merger/acquisitions within the past MONTH in the US civil engineering and architectural consulting firm community. The blog below is just as relevant today as when it first ran on Civil Engineering Central in 2008. Refresh yourself with the write up and let us know what you think of the continued consolidation in our industry!
Acquisitions in the civil engineering community exploded in 2007 with steady activity up to now. A client jokingly told me, “Eventually we will all work for about five firms. That is all that will be left!”
While I think my client’s comment is a slight exaggeration, the pace of these M&As does not seem to be slowing. What has happened to the traditional firms of the past?
Certainly, these consolidations allow firms a great way to increase staff and presence in particular locations or technical arenas. But, if you joined a firm because of a specific company culture, what do you do now?
Are these large national and international firms of combined technical talents good for our industry? What do you think?
Carol Metzner President, The MetznerGroup Managing Partner, CivilEngineeringCentral.com View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion
As a search consultant I have the opportunity to speak with dozens of civil engineering professionals across the country on a daily basis. I speak with key executives in the C-Suite, Project Engineers, and to every level of civil engineering professional in between. After learning about their skill set and their contribution to their organization and to our nation’s infrastructure I always ask the following question:
“What would be a motivating factor that would prompt you to explore a new opportunity?”
Most of the time I get responses that include phrases like:
⇒“Larger, more challenging projects”
⇒“Smaller company” / “Larger company”
But every so often I will connect with a candidate who is working for a firm where the existing leadership has the ol’ “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it mentality.”
Over the past few months I have run into a number of firms who just cannot get out of their own way as a result of their “we’ve always done it this way” point of view.
⇒I recently heard of a firm that was poised for growth and had determined that they had to make some changes by creating a couple of new positions that would really help take them to the next level. One of these positions was Chief Operating Officer. The Board of Directors developed a detailed job description that outlined a plan moving forward and the positive impact that the addition of a COO would make. At the end of the day they decided to put the role on the back-burner for no other reason than the company ownership, all of whom have been with the company for 35+ years, felt that what they were doing has worked for the past twenty five years and there was no sense changing things up. The younger generation of engineers and future leaders of this organization are unsettled by all of this and will likely be future leaders somewhere else.
⇒Another firm that has a strong tradition of excellence within the Mid-Atlantic region is unwilling to budge on their vacation policy. Not one single person they say, from the CEO on down, receives more than three weeks of vacation. It is non-negotiable. I am all about hard work, trust me, I am typing this on a Saturday. But to remain competitive in the marketplace you need to be able to do better than three weeks vacation, especially for senior level professionals who have certainly earned four weeks anyway. This is another example of an existing ownership with an “old school” mentality that is not able to see the forest through the trees, in my opinion.
⇒These are just a few examples; there are plenty of companies out there who lag behind in technology, training, and who preach a culture and a philosophy of innovation but whose actions show otherwise.
On the other hand, I have had some first hand experience working with clients who understand the importance of change, organizational evolution, and constant re-evaluation.
⇒I recently worked with a client who saw an enormous amount of opportunity in the marketplace, but just could not break free from their 30 employee shell. The CEO of the company reached out to me and shared with me his vision to become an ENR Top 500 firm, and he was ready to invest in the right people to make that happen. He was acting as CEO, COO, Director of Business Development and Director of Engineering, and as you can imagine, could barely see one step ahead of himself. We successfully conducted a search for him and he now has in place a Director of Engineering and an Executive Vice President who has actively taken on the operations element of the firm and is contributing to business development and strategy. As a result of investing in these two key hires they are looking to double in size in the next 18 months.
⇒Another client has been in business for nearly 40 years and is in its second generation of ownership, currently working towards the third generation. The company ownership is split between five or six shareholders, but they have limited the length of time that shareholders can be shareholders. This allows for the semi-regular turnover of ownership which leads to the replenishment of fresh and innovative ideas.
⇒Another firm not only encourages its employees to think “outside-the-box,” but they actually allow for those ideas to be implemented. As traditional and conservative as civil engineers traditionally are, the willingness to try something new may seem a little risky, but their clients REALLY enjoy their willingness to present innovative approaches and concepts to many age old problems. This type of mentality and philosophy is attractive to many people and as a result helps them bring top talent in the door, and it excites the clients and keeps them coming back for more.
Change can often be scary, but it is necessary. History shows that those firms who are satisfied with the status quo, and who drown themselves in “we’ve always done it this way” mentality will eventually be left in the dust.
May you not be left in the dust!
THE BEST LOGOS ARE WORTH MILLIONS OF DOLLARS…OR RECOGNITION FROM CIVILENGINEERINGCENTRAL.COM!
WE ARE EXCITED TO BRING TO YOU THE 5th ANNUAL
- All nominated logos (tag lines should be included if you have one) must be from civil engineering firms who operate within the United States.
- If the logo has a story behind it, we would like to know about it.
- Logo nominations can be submitted via:
DIRECT TWEET: @civilengineers
LINKEDIN: By responding directly to our announcements you see on any LinkedIn groups
Logos will be judged on a sliding scale based on the following criteria:
- Does the logo make an immediate impact by grabbing one’s attention right off the bat?
- Is the logo memorable? Is it uniquely applicable to what the firm does – enough so that it will positively embed itself in the memory of clients, employees, peers, etc?
- Is the logo appealing to the eye?
- Does the logo accurately represent the company and its services?
- Does the nominated logo accurately represent the firm’s corporate and employment branding initiatives?
- How well is your logo represented in your social media campaign?
- Ron Worth
Chief Executive Officer
Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS)
- Matt Barcus
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of CivilEngineeringCentral.com
- Carol Metzner
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of CivilEngineeringCentral.com
Contest winner will be notified by CivilEngineeringCentral.com during January 2014. Winner will receive:
- Corporate logo prominently displayed on CivilEngineeringCentral.com‘s website for 3 months.
- One month as sponsor on ourLinkedIn Groupe-update, “The LinkedIngineer.” This e-update goes out twice a month to all 10,000 (and growing!) members of the Civil Engineering Central Group on LinkedIn.
- 10 free job postings on CivilEngineeringCentral.com + Featured Employer upgrade.
- Bragging rights until next year 🙂
All entries must be received by March 7th, 2014
Gist, Criteria, Judges, Prizes & Deadline are subject to change without notice as determined by A/E/P Central, LLC, home of CivilEngineeringCentral.com
There was a recent article posted on line from the Washington Post titled, “Why extroverts fail, introverts flounder and you probably succeed.” The article was written by Daniel H. Pink; author of “To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others.”
The gist of the article revolved around the mentality of successful sales people, comparing extroverts to introverts and learning which of those personality traits experienced the most sales success. Specifically noted by the author was a meta-analysis of 35 studies of 4,000 sales people. This analysis revealed limited parallels between extroversion and sales success.
“The conventional view that extroverts make the finest salespeople is so accepted that we’ve overlooked one teensy flaw: There’s almost no evidence it’s actually true”
Of course, the opposite does not hold true either, but no one expected that, right?
The article referenced recent study done by the University of Pennsylvania tha identified the fact that the most successful sales people were actually ambiverts; that is, someone with a personality falls between the stereotypical engineer with taped glasses and a pocket protector crunching calculations behind a computer screen all day and a bull in a china shop.
I have spoke to my fair share of civil engineering executives and leaders that have risen to the top of their organization, and like in most professions, many of the most successful executives are the ones that have a track record of successfully generating strong revenues and growing business. I can honestly tell you that what Pink discussed in this article generally holds true for the civil engineering profession; that is, the most successful civil engineers who have risen to the ranks of executive/principal leadership as a result of their ability to haul in business are more often than not ambiverts.
Here are a few ideas as to why ambiverts in the civil engineering profession achieve great sales success and rise to the top:
A. They don’t get too high on their wins and they don’t beat themselves down when they lose to the competition. As a leader, these traits set a great example for those beneath and keeps the ship afloat. They are for the most part enjoyable to be around and develop a sense of loyalty from their team and are well liked by their clients for their ability to be even keeled.
B. They understand their own organization, as well as clients, and have the wherewithal to understand the extrovert and introvert in everyone. They are capable of appealing to both introverts and extroverts, on both sides of the table, which often leads to win-win scenarios for everyone involved.
C. They are great listeners and are relatively humble. Outspoken professionals who pitch, pitch, pitch their services and why their company is so great without taking the time to sit back and listen to the client do not get very far. Boasting about your past successful projects proves nothing unless you are first willing to listen. So they do share successes with the clients and how they have solved problems in the past, and they are excited to, but they first listen to make sure those past examples actually relate. They are not just well-groomed sales people merely full of glossy marketing materials and power points on their ipads. They actually are capable of talking a good game because they have played on the field. They are then able to take their experiences, along with their ingenuity, and effectively communicate to clients in a manner that shows they understand.
In two words: Humbly Confident.
Based upon your experience in the civil engineering profession, would you agree or disagree that it is the ambivert that achieves the most success? Why? What other ambivert traits do you feel lead a civil engineer down the path of success?
A couple of weeks ago a consulting civil engineering client of mine offered an opportunity to an extremely talented candidate that would have allowed him to work from home for his first 6-8 months in order to accommodate some special circumstances. The candidate ended up delaying the acceptance of the offer until the first quarter of next year as his situation would be fully resolved (hopefully the opportunity will still be available). The details of the circumstances are neither here nor there, but at the end of the day this candidate determined that as flattered as he was that they would make special accommodations for him, he would not feel comfortable in a work-from-home situation as he would be “out of the mix.” He is a team player and not having immediate access to his team, and the “perception” that he would not be giving 110% because of his physical absence he saw as a detriment.
According to the article, remote employees were more engaged because:
1. Proximity Breeds Complacency – that is, leaders who work in the same building, let alone the same floor, regularly fail to interact face-to-face with their employees, preferring rather to communicate via email.
2. Absence Makes People Try Harder to Connect – that is, leaders are more deliberate in their communication with those off-site employees.
3. Leaders of Virtual Teams Make a Better Use of Tools – that is, leaders are forced to use video-conferencing, instant messaging, and even the telephone, just to name a few; an advantage that their peers may not necessarily take advantage of by having everyone working in the office.
4. Leaders of Far-Flung Teams Maximize the Time their Teams Spend Together – that is, since the time the team actually spends together on location is limited, when they do get together the level of focused attention is higher than it might be otherwise.
I do not necessarily doubt the findings and opinions of this article, but my question is, was the candidate in the experience that I alluded to at the beginning of this blog right in his decision? Since we are dealing with a Civil Engineering consulting firm and considering that the candidate would be a full-time permanent employee with the title of Sr. Civil Engineer who is looking to continuously advance up the corporate ladder, I would say that, in as much as I was disappointed in the fact that he declined the offer, he was probably correct. And here is why:
1. Knowing the determination and intelligence of the candidate, he could have successfully handled the situation. But he felt that, especially with a new employer, he did not want to be perceived as a slacker. Even though he would have given 110%, his absence from the office could easily be mis-construed.
2. Part of his motivation for exploring a new opportunity was because in his current role, he lacked mentorship. Working from home for at least six months would limit the mentoring opportunities available to him.
3. Working from home for a large civil engineering consulting firm as a project engineer often makes it difficult to grab people, share ideas, ask questions, and bounce concepts off of peers and managers “on the fly.”
4. Out of sight, out of mind. Enough said.
Unless you are a regional or national business development executive who is jet-setting all week, or a technical engineer who is completely satisfied with maintaining a long-term technical engineering role with no real advancement, you are better off working at the office as opposed to remotely from home.
Does your firm allow for work-at-home opportunities on a regular basis? Have you been part of a positive work-from-home experience? Have you seen people fail in work-at-home situations with their employers? I look forward to hearing you share your thoughts and experiences on this topic as a civil engineer.
Finally, if you are on LinkedIn, please click on the following link to take our following “one-click” poll on this topic: