How to Empower Your Firm for Strategic Growth

PSMJ Resources, Inc.
Posted on: 01/15/19
Written by: PSMJ Resources, Inc.

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Do you exercise tight control over your firm? If so, you’re likely hurting your potential for growth. Find out what it takes to build an empowered culture that will assist you in moving forward.

It’s a fact: most firms stay small because their principal owners stunt their growth. Strategic growth, whether it be in staff size, revenue, or project size, is greatly affected by the structure and culture of your firm, and it is through an empowered firm culture that firms truly move forward.

PSMJ has identified nine traits to determine if your firm is empowered and, in turn, poised for growth. These traits include:

  1. Openness of financial information. The empowered firm openly distributes financial information. This does not mean that all salary and financial information becomes available, but each person should know how his or her role impacts profitability. In the controlled firm, distributing financial information is taboo. No one seems to know how the firm is doing.

  2. Recognition. In the empowered firm, recognition is open and blatant. In the controlled firm, recognition is less, and people simply don’t understand the basis on which they are being rewarded.

  3. Ownership. The empowered firm feels that ownership equals capitalization. Broad ownership, low power-share value prices, and encouraging of all people to become owners is the norm. The managing partners in controlled firms prohibit other employees from attaining ownership until they “earn it.”

  4. Ideas processed. Growing firms encourage idea development. Staff ideas are encouraged, and strategic planning occurs from the bottom up. When principals control most of the authoritative decisions on projects without involving others, the firm quickly becomes a controlled organization and limits firm growth.

  5. Intolerance of non-performers. Surprisingly, in an empowered firm, peer pressure on non-performers is immense. If the manager in a tightly controlled firm is unaware of a staff member’s poor performance, there is not much the other employees can do to remove the person.

  6. Training. Growing firms offer an abundance of training. These firms invest up to 15 percent of their budgets in mentoring programs, external and internal seminars, and other forms of training.

  7. Management style. Growth requires that principals promote a spirit of entrepreneurship. This motivates people to take risks. Without staff members taking risks on behalf of clients, the firm stands to suffer losses in time, schedule, and marketing opportunities, as individuals fail to take advantage of opportunities that arise.

  8. Fun versus work. Empowered firms foster an atmosphere of fun. There’s always something going on, whether it’s a birthday party or a periodic afternoon “happy hour.” Many firms lean toward control in this area while claiming they are empowered in others.

  9. Human resources. Firms that lack talent in acquiring top staff find that the staff they have – while adequate today – cannot be trusted with further authority. The first step toward becoming empowered is to change how you hire people.

Seek out individuals who have an empowerment philosophy – who are eager to take risks and have the personality to move your firm forward. Ask yourself whether the issue of how you hire people is symptomatic of the initial stages of a controlled culture or those of an empowered culture.

Successful Strategic Planning_EBOOK_2017_CVR_Web-1

 Looking for more tips, check out Successful Strategic Planning For A/EFirm LeadersIn this free e-book, you’ll find specific suggestions to help your architecture or engineering firm think of “planning” as something you do all the time, tending to it at regular intervals—as a process that never ends and an ongoing part of running a successful business.

Download it Now!

Other strategic planning related blog posts: 

8 Tips For Making Your Strategic Planning Meeting A Success

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Where Does M&A Sit in A/E Firm Strategic Planning?

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