the decade ahead
A 10-year anniversary is a good time not only to look back and appreciate the progress you've made but also to do a reality check on where you're headed and then make the necessary course corrections. Seattle-based architecture business consultant Rena Klein, FAIA, says that at this point, many principals are working 60 hours to 70 hours a week and feeling overwhelmed. It's time to learn how to delegate and let the second generation advance. And that brings up staffing assessments. Do you have the people you need to move toward your future goals now? If not, what gaps need to be filled?
That discussion also prompts a frank look at the organization's financial and organizational health. Maturing architects begin to realize they have to focus more on operating efficiently so they can compensate people competitively (and thus attract top talent). As you grow, more sophisticated tracking systems are necessary to make invoicing and billing systems efficient. What improvements need to be initiated so that your project delivery system works better? “People don't want to look at their weaknesses, but it's been said that your habits are your destiny,” Klein says. “The good and bad habits of principals in small or medium-sized firms tend to really impact operational success.”
As you prepare for the future, don't neglect educational and social needs either. Offer incentives to help employees get additional education, if necessary. And perhaps most important, “Check whether people are happy,” Klein says. “If so, they work better, and that includes firm principals.”