Client Feedback Tool
  • Is yours a team of generalists or specialists? Why it matters.

    Posted on October 15th, 2015 Sally Orcutt No comments
    Is yours a team of generalists or specialists? Why it matters.


    A problem that our A/E industry shares with the other white-collar service professions, we don’t always optimize our most important asset: our people.

    I know you’ve heard this before, but do me a favor – keep reading.

    As leaders we have a sense of what to do intuitively. The challenge is we often lack the specialized tools and processes to put our people into their optimum roles or give them the training and support they need to be most productive.

    There is good news. Recent studies and surveys show that while most managers do not think that their firm’s current processes and approaches to improving performance of teams are very effective; they still think that approaches that are customized to the specific skill-set of each team member are best.

    Create strong teamsSo, we all agree training each individual to do what comes naturally to them gives us the strongest teams. And when it comes to managing clients and managing production, understanding what piece of the puzzle each person brings to the team creates a team of specialists that excel at the work they provide your clients.

    I want to invite you to attend my seminar this December at the PSMJ Industry Summit and if you register before November 9th, receive a $100 registration credit. Here is a quick link to some highlights I will be sharing in December.

    In addition to all the valuable networking and excellent speakers you will hear at this year’s Summit, when you attend my seminar you will see the latest strategies used to create high performance teams.  Through these specialized strategies, I will show you how to enhance job satisfaction by letting (and helping) each person do what they naturally do best. I will also share first-hand experience of how our firm “turned the ship” and used these methods to make us a stronger, more profitable firm while improving the performance and satisfaction of our team members.

    1. Seminar Includes the Following Strategies:
    2. Understanding the four major skill-sets in the A/E industry
    3. How to identify the skill-set profile for each of your team members
    4. Setting team member assignments by their profile type
    5. Enhancing cooperative interaction between types
    6. Fine-tuning feedback for each profile type
    7. Identifying the optimum training for each team member

    While certainly of interest to firm leaders and managers whose role is to improve the performance of their firm’s teams, this seminar will contain information very helpful to anyone growing towards a leadership position or who wants to help their firm succeed.

    I look forward to seeing you at the 2015 PSMJ Industry Summit! When you register, use Promo Code CFT to save $100.

  • What is your ‘best project’ story?

    Posted on August 13th, 2014 Darren Smith No comments
    What is your 'best project' story?

    I had been working with the leaders of this firm for several months on the benefits of collaboration on project schedule, budget, and team satisfaction. We had shared ‘best project’ stories and agreed those were the projects where everything went smoothly and all members of the team just seemed to do what needed to be done to create a positive outcome. They wanted to create ‘best project stories’ on all their projects so they asked team members working on one of their large projects this question. 

    “How would you rate the overall collaboration on your team?”

    They found that almost 50% of those responding said the team’s collaboration was about what they expected. It met their expectations. Another roughly 19% exceeded expectations. Good news.

    But the leaders focused in on the top 27%. They wanted to understand what about the experience for these individuals had them rate the team’s collaboration as “Exceptional” or “Excellent”? For these team members, this was one of the ‘best project stories’. The leaders wanted to understand the behavior, quantify it (if possible), and spread it around like peanut butter to the other members of their project teams.Collaboration

    I worked with the leaders to dig deeper. They spoke with team members to better understand what, for them, made the project feel more collaborative than they expected. When we pulled together the information, we recognized the team had set up Rules of Engagement. Of course, they didn’t use that label, but their discussions and actions had the same impact. They managed their team interactions effectively and efficiently and created a positive experience for the team overall.

    So what did they do, and how can you (and they) spread these behaviors around?

    Rules of Engagement are the operational and relational rules that create ‘best project’ stories. Although oversimplified, the difference between the two are that operational rules provide team accountability and relational rules provide team strength.

    Behind operational rules is the idea that for a project to run smoothly rules must be established? How will communication be handled, deadlines be met, and deliverables reviewed. What are the rewards for the individual of adhering to those rules? What are the consequences if they do not? Think about a project that ran over budget (or schedule), did it have operational rules in place? Was there a breakdown in any of the rules? Were there consequences to the individual(s) involved?

    Relational rules serve a different purpose. Getting the relational rules right means identifying the skills and talents needed to make your project run smoothly (and profitably)? Then, take that knowledge and put together the strongest possible team of individuals you can. And, for those of you with multiple office locations, don’t forget that the skills and talents you need may not be sitting right in front of you. Be sure the person’s role on the team will allow them to use their talents. If your project is complex, it is not only a good idea to have someone whose talents include organization on the team, they must serve in a role where they can bring that expertise to the project.

    Learn more about using Rules of Engagement on your next project. Click here to download a 50-minute webinar that will increase the likelihood that all of your projects will run smoothly (and more profitably).

    Darren Smith (founder and CEO of CIMA Strategic) is a collaboration subject matter expert. He helps successful executives in design, construction, and healthcare elevate their leadership and energize their strategy & business development implementation through collaboration. Darren has conducted business in 20 countries across 10 industries. His clients include HKS Architects, The Society of Petroleum Engineers, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and Toyota. 

  • If ‘Life is like a box of chocolates’, what are you saying to your clients?

    Posted on December 4th, 2013 Sally Orcutt No comments

    I’m not sure what made me think of this famous line from Forrest Gump as I started writing about balancing relationships and productivity at the holidays. I even did a Google search on the quote and found a YouTube clip of that park bench scene. I debated whether or not to include the clip. As you’ll remember, Forrest’s mama said this to him because, like taking a piece from a box of chocolates, (in life) you never know what you are going to get. Hmmm, not really relevant to balancing relationships and productivity is it. But, then again.

    If you are like most firms in the A&E Industry, November and December are challenging months to hit utilization goals. It is no small feat to balance employee time off with project delivery and profitability. Balancing these elements is certainly essential for the health of your business. But, what about client relationships? With so much energy internally focused, is it possible that your client focus is limited to just sending a basket of goodies or a holiday card? Is there a chance that your clients’ experience during this time will be like that ‘box of chocolates’? They will not be sure how their project’s schedule, budget, and quality will stay on track.

    Okay, maybe this analogy is a bit of a stretch. However, here’s the thing. Your clients are balancing many of the same challenges as you are during the holidays. They are trying to keep projects on track even as they too are short-staffed. So how can you increase your value to them, balance your internal metrics, and really bring some holiday cheer to your clients (and your staff)? Here are three easy to implement candy pieces for Blogtips that will set your firm apart from the rest:

    Communicate and collaborate. As you review your staffs’ requests for time off, why not take a moment and give your clients a call. What does their schedule look like? When will the key staff that need to review the upcoming deliverable be available? Your clients will appreciate that you considered their schedule. And, you will be able to plan your team’s workload more effectively.

    Manage expectations early. When you set up your project plan, you likely considered the schedule impact of increased staff time off. However, we all know that schedules can be fluid. Your plan to be at a specific point in the project during the holidays can, at times, slide off course. Talk to your client. Share with them your strategy to adjust the schedule after the holiday to make up for lost time. Will that work for them?

    Thank them for their business. Yes, in addition to the holiday card and the box of goodies, pick up the phone and thank them for their business. Clients are individuals and they, like you, love to feel appreciated. We all know that the A&E Industry is a relationship business and relationships involve an emotional connection. Sure, it’s business. Even so, take a couple of minutes and make it personal as well.

    And yes, here is the YouTube video clip.

    Client Feedback Tool is committed to helping our clients build strong relationships with their clients through project-based feedback. Visit our website and watch our 3-Minute Video or email us for a personalized demo.