Thursday, May 31, 2007

Why good leadership teams perform badly

I routinely work with weak CEOs whose firms make decent profits in spite of them and others who seem to work well with their leadership group and are always one paid invoice away from bankruptcy. Clearly, the strong leaders should be doing better - so what stops them?

I asked my friend and colleague Sandy Blaha - a master builder of high performance A/E firm leadership teams - what are the principal barriers to success? How does an otherwise good management team pull it together and start making real money?

Sandy explained to me about the four most common problems encountered by leadership teams:

1. Lack of Facilitation Skills Most A/E professionals lack the active listening skills required to provide an occasional summary of what the group has said or decided so far. A good facilitator mirrors the group and helps it pause to evaluate what it is doing. Mirroring what has been said or decided so far also helps a participant in a group decision “get off” a point that he or she is continually repeating. It also helps relieve escalating intensity within the discussion.
2. Flying Blind Don't meet about something without the information or research needed to come to a conclusion. Make sure someone in the group has the insight to raise a flag and say "let's find out more before we decide."
3. Reinventing the Wheel Don't make a decision then start all over again several months later on the same issue as if no decision had been made. Keep a notebook of your meeting notes handy so you can review and reinforce previous decisions.
4. Leaving Team Members Out of the Loop Convey key decisions to employees and avoid confusion regarding the direction and intent of a decision. And for goodness sake, don't allow each principal to tell a different story!

Listen, keep it focused, document, and communicate and see the improvement!

All the best,

Frank A. Stasiowski

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Welcome to the PSMJ Resources Blog

Three ways to keep salary issues out of your negotiations

If you are like other A/E firm leaders, you are finding that your management salaries are coming under more client scrutiny than ever. That last issue you want to deal with in a negotiation is defending your management teams’ salaries to clients — you need to keep the dialogue focused on how your service provides unequaled benefits to your client and delivers them maximum value.

How do you deal with clients who insist on raising the issue of management salary? Bear in mind that as a service provider, your relationship with your clients doesn’t end when they sign the contract — it continues throughout the project. Your firm doesn’t deliver a product and walk away — you deliver service that transforms concepts into valuable design parameters. So you need to have a strategy in place to process through — not blow through — your clients’ compensation concerns. Here are three things you can do:

Listen fully to their concern (do not interrupt or anticipate).

Take a proactive role in making sure that your response addresses the complexities of multi-stakeholder scenarios. The person with whom you are negotiating is usually just one of several client stakeholders involved with a project. Make sure your client sees you as their advocate and a problem solver.

Show them where you stand using your 2007 PSMJ Management Salary Benchmark Tool.


Frank A. Stasiowski, FAIA
President and Founder
PSMJ Resources, Inc.
Follow @PSMJ_Resources