On my mind


    Scattered, brief thoughts on business and management.

    Sometimes I have a variety of thoughts I want to share with Civil + Structural Engineer magazine readers but none of them merits a full page. Here are a few things that have been on my mind:

    Civil and structural engineers are so honest and ethical that we are unequipped to deal with dishonest/unethical people. We are vulnerable because we are too trusting! That makes it easy for dishonest people to steal from us. Keep your guard up, friends — and be careful what clients you work with, what people you do business with, and who you hire.

    You need young people! You may not think they can do anything when you hire them, but believe me, you will get out of step with technology, work environment, and more if you don’t have a steady stream of young people joining it — not to mention the energy they bring! The fact is, we old farts may know a lot of stuff, but times are a-changing! And the younger folks are the ones to keep us in tune with those changes.

    Facilities are a big deal. People may complain when they are jammed together, but too much space will kill the buzz and turn your firm into a morgue. I have seen a couple spaces recently that blew me away. Architects lined up at tables against a wall, each one with about 4 feet by 30 inches deep to work in. With rents costing what they do in San Francisco, Boston, and New York City, smaller working spaces will have to become more common. Are you wasting space?

    Individual people behave in largely predictable patterns. If you are a manager, you need to understand those behavioral patterns for each of the people who work for you. Try not to put them in situations where their expected response would be less than desirable. Get people into the roles that they are most likely to succeed in and don’t jam round pegs into square holes (if you are smart). You know what people are going to do; don’t try to change them. It’s frustrating and futile!

    “Reply to all” is a scourge on all of us! What an incredible time-waster this is for everyone. The amount of reading and deletion — or if not deleted, server space wasted — by reply-to-all emails in engineering organizations is staggering. Put a stop to it! You have to address this or it will become part of your organization’s culture!

    Texting is becoming a bigger and bigger part of how people communicate today. If you are one of those people who “doesn’t text,” you better get with the program and learn how to do so quickly. If you don’t, you won’t be able to be as responsive as you should be today.

    We have a great issue of Civil + Structural Engineer magazine for you in June! There’s so much in here — we hope you take it all in. And as always, when you’re finished with this issue, please pass it on to someone else. Better yet, sign them up for their own subscription at https://csengineermag.com/subscribe!

    Mark C. Zweig