Posts filed under ‘Dealing With Clients’

Civil Engineering Ethics: Leaving Your Employer & Telling Your Clients

leavingA candidate of mine was given a 60 day notice that he will be laid off from his employer, due to financial conditions of the engineering consulting firm. This engineer is well-respected in his community and known as an expert in the city and county he resides. His employer asked him to not tell the firm’s clients or employees in other offices that he is leaving. He leads a small office of this national consulting firm. Assuming this engineer has no employment agreement, does he have an obligation to his firm? Does he have a professional responsibility to inform his clients?

Whether you are laid off or choose to leave your current employer, how and should you tell your clients?

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Code Of Ethics should be understood and always in the mind of its members. Engineers face situations that often put them in ethical dilemmas with their employers. Let’s look at our situations above while referencing ASCE canons.

*ASCE canon (professional responsibility) #4  states in part that one acknowledges that “clients should have the autonomy to seek professional services from the engineer of their choice. To do so, however, they must have knowledge of circumstances that might affect their selection, and they must be apprised of the options available to them.” If you are the client manager, project manager or technical leader on a project with client interaction, canon #4 suggests that you let the client know you are leaving. If you are the proposed lead of a proposed project and the client is reviewing other firms as well as yours, you are obligated under this canon to inform them.

*But, one must keep in mind canon #3. Canon #3 tells us that engineers must “issue true statements.” In upholding this responsibility, the engineer must keep in mind that he/she “will avoid any act tending to promote their own interests at the expense of the integrity, honor and dignity of the profession.” One must be careful to not speak badly of their current employer to intentionally cause them to be knocked out of contract consideration. The engineer must speak truthfully while not disparaging another engineer unfairly.

*As canon #5 informs “Engineers shall not maliciously or falsely, directly or indirectly, injure the professional reputation, prospects, practice or employment of another engineer or indiscriminately criticize another’s work.” An exiting employee/engineer must be honest in their assessment of the firm’s ability to continue the client’s work without him/her.  What does one say if the engineer assigned to take over the project is incapable of the role? Canon #5 could be viewed as walking a fine line.

Why is it important for your client to know you are leaving your firm? APQC asked executives to “prioritize what they value when hiring a consultant.” Of top and equal importance to these leaders, they place “firm’s experience” and “project team’s experience” with the client’s issue as top reasons to hire a specific consulting firm. Engineers and their employers have a responsibility to their clients to tell them what has happened or will happen with their project and the team. Clients understand business decisions, they make them everyday. They may not agree with the decisions, but they understand them. If they hired the engineering firm for a specific person’s political connection, the engineering firm has now directly impacted their client’s ability to perform.

Informing your clients of your departure is an ethical as well as professional responsibility. Here’s how to make that transition smoother:

  • Work with your supervisor to inform your client. You employer will want to minimize the client’s concerns.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute or your final day of employment to tell clients.
  • Inform client’s in person or by phone if an in person meeting is not possible. Follow up with an email.
  • It is also good practice to introduce your project successor and offer to help with a project transition plan.

Keep in mind that while these are your employer’s clients- as described above, the client may be there because of YOU! Always be professional!

Let us know what you think!

Carol new profile

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

January 3, 2017 at 1:30 pm Leave a comment

Legalized Marijuana Use Grounds For Termination Within A/E Firms?

The legalization of marijuana use in Colorado and Washington is causing an uprising within the A/E marketplace.  It has been reported that firms are trying to determine policies that take in consideration federal and state laws while being mindful of employee and client safety. Speaking with operations and human resources executives on the legalized use of marijuana by employees, I am receiving one unified comment:

Marijuana use will not be tolerated-whether legal in the state the employee works or not.

Civil engineering  and architect employers believe that any potential impaired judgement could lead to fatal design issues or poor decision making. I asked several executives how recreational use of the drug  during personal hours is any different than staff consuming alcohol on their own time. Additionally, I asked “If an employee goes on vacation to Colorado or Washington, then smokes marijuana, returns and tests positive- what will happen?” I received a variety of responses to both these questions, but no clear answer. “Too many shades of gray. Employees need to take responsibility. If they are smoking in a legalized state on vacation, chances are they are smoking at their homes too.”  Emotions are running deep on this topic.

The Department of Defense has reported that contractors who test positive for any drug use may lose their security clearance. Similarly, other federal agencies require contractors/engineering firms to drug test staff working on their projects. This would clearly direct firms providing services to those agencies. Liability insurances for many firms are expected to rise.

NORML (www.NORML.org) shares  “marijuana is the third most popular recreational drug in America (behind only alcohol and tobacco), and has been used by nearly 100 million Americans. According to government surveys, some 25 million Americans have smoked marijuana in the past year, and more than 14 million do so regularly despite harsh laws against its use. Our public policies should reflect this reality, not deny it.”

Many states and many more A/E firms will be dealing with this issue in months ahead. What do you think? Carol new profile

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

March 19, 2014 at 9:48 am 2 comments

Civil Engineers: Are You An Ambivert?

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.

Introver Extrovert

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?


Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc
Managing Partner, CivilEngineeringCentral.com
View Matt’s profile & connect with him on LinkedIn

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

February 7, 2013 at 3:46 pm 1 comment

Taking Your Business to the Next Level

Babette Ten Haken
Sales Aerobics for Engineers
Internet Business Development Strategies for Manufacturers, Distributors and Service Companies

Featured Guest Blogger: Babette Ten Haken
Author, Do YOU Mean Business? Technical / Non Technical Collaboration, Business Development and YOU
Sales Aerobics for Engineers
Strategies and Toolkit for the Sales-Engineering Interface
Connect With Babette On Linkedin
Read The Sales Aerobics For Engineers Blog

Babette Ten Haken
Sales Aerobics for Engineers
Internet Business Development Strategies for Manufacturers, Distributors and Service Companies

Sole proprietors and very small A/E firms spend their early years struggling to stabilize cash flow while prospecting to win new business, facilitate output and invoice the client. It’s an endless cycle, with the same person or a few people wearing multiple hats. And when they are busy “doing” usually the “selling” process suffers, and vice versa.

No matter how much your business has grown, and how many layers of infrastructure you’ve developed, generating and maintaining revenue stream is what it’s all about.

All businesses get “stuck” on a plateau of input, throughout, output and client mix: the formula that got them to where they are today but may not be enough to sustain them in the future. How can you build out your current successful business development platform so you remain nimble in the marketplace and poised to take your company to the next level?

1. Incorporate relevant trigger events into prospecting.

A/E firms are already tuned in to reporting sites listing news about building expansion, property development and municipal funding, to name a few areas of opportunity. These traditional areas of prospecting can be supplemented by gaining greater proficiency in Web search. Using alternative search engines, search methods, and terms can help your company identify “trigger events” or additional, relevant information about your industry and clientele. Sam Richter’s book, “Take The Cold Out of Cold Calling – Web Search Secrets” (www.samrichter.com) is an indispensable resource for sales and business development professionals seeking to differentiate their deliverables. Why prospect using the same information as your competition?

2. Help your clients build their businesses.

Your clients use the Internet to research your company, as well. Often sellers aren’t invited to sit down with prospective clients until the client creates their shortlist of potential vendors. So your business development person may enter the scene after your prospect has made decisions about the project.  How can your company differentiate itself from the other “problem-solvers” or “consultative sellers” who are out there competing in your space? Is  your website a billboard or “informational?” Do you offer White Papers or  Press Releases which are up to date? Are you using social media? Prospects may not all be technical, don’t want to read your website from cover to cover, and need to understand the relevance of unlabeled photo portfolios. Website and media content should establish an initial – and valuable – dialogue with your customers that goes beyond problem solving. Help them understand how doing business with your company makes their company more robust.

3. Look at yourself from your clients’ perspective.

Connect yourself to your company’s revenue stream. Many companies develop a great workflow infrastructure for handling won business. However, that infrastructure would be non-existent if it weren’t for the BD folks identifying these opportunities and the clients funding your output. Look at yourself from the outside looking in, as your potential clients see you, rather than from the inside looking out. While you are responsible for the A to Z of your job description, your clients have a bigger context into which they place your company. They only are interested in how your company’s A to Z impacts their company’s A to Z.  How are you, and your company, helping your clients answer the question: What’s In It For Me?

4. Treat internal colleagues like they are prospects, because they are.

Make your vertical structure more horizontal; poke holes in departmental silos. Depending on where we sit around the table, we see the same things differently. Just as vendors have Lunch and Learn sessions to inform companies about new products and services, start a Lunch and Learn group at your company. These sessions place everyone’s role into the broadest possible cross-functional context.  It literally pays to have everyone on the same page.  What insights can your business development folks provide for your project engineers on the types of issues and questions they hear from current and prospective clients? How might your business development folks benefit from listening to how their inaccessibility impedes workflow and profitability? Everyone’s communicating this company-wide A to Z, and not just the one defined by the scope of their job description, may become the competitive differentiator your company is looking for.

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

March 6, 2012 at 9:51 am Leave a comment

Birds of a Feather Flock Together: Why Homogeneity Is Not So Good

Babette Ten Haken
Sales Aerobics for Engineers
Internet Business Development Strategies for Manufacturers, Distributors and Service Companies

Featured Guest Blogger: Babette Ten Haken
Author, Do YOU Mean Business?  Technical / Non Technical Collaboration, Business Development and YOU
Sales Aerobics for Engineers
Strategies and Toolkit for the Sales-Engineering Interface
Connect With Babette On Linkedin
Read The Sales Aerobics For Engineers Blog

Babette Ten Haken
Sales Aerobics for Engineers
Internet Business Development Strategies for Manufacturers, Distributors and Service Companies

Do you tend to stick to your own kind when having business discussions? Do you feel misunderstood, marginalized, victimized, and alone amidst the drift of sales spiel and techno-babble? In other words, is cross-functional communication on your list of things not to do during those dreaded Monday morning meetings… let alone on your list of things you never would target to do?

You know what they say about hybrid vigor in nature! A little diversity goes a long way towards the longevity of the species. Otherwise you may end up non-communicating yourself right into an endangered species status.

Yes, I know you feel you are special, that people should and do clamor for your professional expertise. And, in desiring your expertise, they should put up having to feel like they are on the outside looking in when you speak to them. How about speaking with them in dialogue? How about suspending the lingo from the wonderful world of architecture and engineering in order to be understood by your clients and, just possibly, your peers as well?

OK. If you are talking about load points in a truss system, you must be specific. However, if you gaze at everyone’s eyes while delivering this discourse – rather than a dialogue – are they interested in what you have to say or have they written you off as someone who best fits in with the flock? When your customers, and even your peers, write you off as someone who would prefer to stick to their own kind, they perceive you as a commodity. Yes, a commodity and a stereotype of what a technical professional is “supposed” to be all about. You know, only comfortable sticking with and speaking to their “own kind.”

Which doesn’t exactly make you globally competitive. Or even locally competitive.

Because thought leaders are accessible to the breadth and depth of their constituents.

Yes, we know you are very, very smart and have invested in some very expensive education. If you can’t communicate outside your flock, then how do you know you are headed in the right direction with your customers? You are on the inside, looking out, rather than at the head of that chevron. And the last time I checked, thought leaders lead a diverse mix of followers because they communicate across disciplines and levels of knowledge.

They inspire.

I spend a lot of time working with technical professionals on communicating their value to both their internal and external customers. And that value translates directly into their ability to positively impact their company’s revenue stream. And their company is run by a diverse mix of individuals, collaborating for the sake of business development and revenue generation.

Sticking to your own kind and seeking homogeneity in your professional relationships may be comfortable to you. But it won’t sustain your business over the long haul.

I strongly recommend you move at least 1 millimeter outside your comfort level.

Interested in continuing this dialogue? My book, Do YOU Mean Business? will be available 2/2012. Click on the link http://www.doyoumeanbusiness.com to continue our discussion and receive updates.

 

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

December 5, 2011 at 9:45 pm Leave a comment

Civil Engineering, Contracting 101 & Ferengi

By Rich Bedell
General Counsel, Greenhorne & O’Mara, Inc. and
Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Maryland University College, Graduate School of Management & Technology

Who is Montgomery Scott? How about Geordie La Forge, B’Elanna Tores, or Trip Tucker? Every engineer I know secretly wishes he or she could have their job. Getting close requires a lot of hard work, professional experience, dedication, and training. Formal training includes formal engineering programs that require specific engineering classes to successfully complete whichever engineering program chosen. Those programs also include various electives to help round out that young potential promising engineer. English literature, history of the western world, romantic arts, and even pottery making are known electives. Some of the more progressive schools offer Contracting 101. When I was in school, oh so long ago, I heard classmates complain that all they wanted to do was design and/or operate. The mechanics of contracting could easily be left to others. Oh how wrong they were.

By now you realize that I was talking about Star Trek, STNG, Voyager, and Enterprise. Each of them have had dealings with a race called the Ferengi. Ferengi have a mercantile obsession with profit and trade. Think about that. Without profit and trade our current society would fall into the dark ages and there would be no need for engineering or the sciences. Ferengi have what are commonly known as the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition. There are hundreds of rules. Do a Google search for yourself and you will find that many of them actually apply.

For example consider the following rules:

#138 – Law makes everyone equal, but justice goes to the highest bidder. We all know that is true.

I couldn’t resist showing that one first but consider the top ten (10).

1) Once you have their money, never give it back.*

2) You can’t cheat an honest customer, but it never hurts to try.

3) Never buy anything for more than is absolutely necessary.*

4) Sex and profit are the two things that never last long enough.

5) If you can’t break a contract, bend it.

6) Never let family stand in the way of opportunity.*

7) Always keep your ears open.*

8) Keep count of your change.

9) Instinct plus opportunity equals profit.*

10) A dead customer can’t buy as much as a live one. Never kill a customer unless the profit you make off his death is larger than the profit you can make off his life.

Yes very funny, but consider Contracting 101 in relation to the above Top 10:

1. It is so important and difficult to collect from the client that you don’t want to do anything foolish that would require you to have to give it back. Think indemnification clauses in a contract where you indemnify for anything arising out of the performance of your services. Insurance doesn’t cover that. Insurance covers for the negligent performance of services.

2. How often have you found that the engineer is being cheated? If the engineer allows himself or herself to be cheated it is their own fault. Think about the fiduciary obligations owed.

3. Think competitive bidding and the contracting procedures associated with that.

4. Well that goes without saying.

5. How often have you found terms in a contract that allow termination for convenience?

6. How often have you been told to use a particular subconsultant only to find out that the subconsultant has some sort of relationship with the client?

By now I hope you get the idea…Some of the morals are questionable, but how true an application to Contracting 101!

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

November 10, 2011 at 4:49 am Leave a comment

Got A Well Baked Cupcake?

Babette Ten Haken
Sales Aerobics for Engineers
Internet Business Development Strategies for Manufacturers, Distributors and Service Companies

Featured Guest Blogger: Babette Ten Haken
Sales Aerobics for Engineers
Strategies and Toolkit for the Sales-Engineering Interface
Connect With Babette On Linkedin Linkedin Logo
Read The Sales Aerobics For Engineers Blog

 

 

Had coffee with one of my marketing colleagues yesterday. Interesting conversation about how so many of our clients in the B2B marketplace perceive the discipline of Marketing as a superficial indulgence they engage in, reluctantly, from time to time.

After all, everyone knows Who You Are, which is the first sign and symptom of Word of Mouth syndrome. Your company has been around for a while. You’ve been drinking your own Kool-Aid® and believe your firm will be top of mind when an A/E firm is needed.

Let the newbie competitor engineering and architecture companies nipping at your heels engage in “marketing communications.” After all, the newbies are the ones who need the business, not your company, right?

Newsflash folks. No matter How Great You Think You Art, you are not as top-of-mind in the vendor selection process as you think you “art.” And those competitor companies nipping at your heels? They aren’t all local, or even domestic, competitors. Their marketing communications efforts firmly place their companies where their clients and prospects are looking and when they are looking to receive strong and consistent messages about the core competencies of their firms.  And Where They Art, You Are Not. Now who is competing with whom? And in what market space?

Marketing isn’t the sprinkles on the cupcake, folks. It IS the cupcake. Marketing is the front end of cash flow. And if you are looking to shorten your business development, sales, and order-to-cash cycles, marketing is where you start. It’s not a matter of cold calling or constantly stopping by your customers and leaving coffee, donuts and brochures. It’s not a matter of wining and dining them or inviting them to your company’s annual golf outing.

The American Marketing Association defines marketing as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” Hmmm. Sounds a bit more noble than sprinkles on the cupcake. In fact, it sounds like marketing addresses how you identify prospective customers, the actions you take to secure these customers, and the strategies you use to retain these customers. Sounds like a plan to me. And it sounds like an endeavor that should be part of everyone’s job description.

Because everyone in your organization is the physical embodiment of your delivery of your core competencies against your marketing strategy and marketing communications. Yes, it’s that’s important.

So what kind of marketing strategy and communications does your company engage in? Especially since marketing appears to impact the type of cupcake you bake. Forget about the sprinkles. An annual ad in the ADA journal? A booth at a local trade show, maybe every other year? Purchase of Google ad words? A little bit of this, a little bit of that, dabbling instead of aggressively pursuing. Because the professions of architecture and engineering are noble and lofty, which preclude them from engaging in marketing communications? Huh?

Ah c’mon folks. Do you know how many people look for information about doctors on Angie’s List (yes, Angie’s List)? Do you know how many folks just type in local architect and call the company whose name starts with “A”, which usually is the local handyman or design-builder? Who ends up doing a good job?

If you don’t educate your current and prospective customers about Who Thou Art, they will never have an opportunity to find out How Great Thou Art. And you don’t have to necessarily feel like you are part of the latest chapter of Mad Men® when marketing. In fact, it might feel natural.

Marketing involves a bit more than hawking your wares. It’s more like growing your personal and corporate brand. In deeds, rather than words. In stewardship, rather than client dinners.

When’s the last time your firm published a white paper, worked with Engineers Without Borders®, taught a drafting class at the local trade school or partnered on the local Habitat for Humanity® project? When’s the last time you invited your prospective and current clients to join with you in these efforts?

That’s the real marketing. Because that’s what matters. That is how you can walk your talk and show how your art and craft is all about making this place far more tolerable and habitable for society.

That’s the recipe for a well-baked cupcake. One that your clients will want to buy. Over and over again.

Think about it.

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

October 26, 2011 at 11:07 pm Leave a comment

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