Like It or Not, You're Leaving a Legacy: How AEC Leaders Can Positively Impact Clients and Workforce
Here are the key steps senior decision-makers can take today to ensure they are positioned for a better future tomorrow.
by Sarah Lorek
AEC leaders, owners, and executives are often flooded with decisions. With so much time spent pursuing work, managing operations, and keeping a firm running smoothly, how can they be sure they are making a positive impact on customers and the workforce? Regardless of plans or lack thereof for the next 30 years, there are key steps senior decision-makers can take today to ensure they are positioned for a better future tomorrow.
What Is a Legacy In AEC?
A legacy is an important action or deed that, when completed, creates a lasting positive impact on a person or group. Leaving a legacy means that good things happen in a company because of positive leadership and making the right decisions. For an AEC firm, “leaving a legacy” means that your positive influence is remembered, honored, and still being experienced and felt by others long after you are gone.
How to Leave Your Legacy
You don’t need to hand down your family business to future generations to leave a mark on the industry. An impactful legacy can be felt by others regardless of the end result. Whether you close up shop, change business strategies completely, grow, retire, or “plan to not have a plan,” the actions you take and the decisions you make right now are creating your legacy—like it or not. Below are simple steps you can take today to influence your legacy tomorrow.
Start with a purposeIf you’ve been thinking about how to leave a positive legacy, start with a purpose. Think of your purpose as the foundation on which your legacy is built. Why do you exist? Your company purpose—or mission statement—should guide every business decision you make. Most importantly, it should encourage and inspire others to think and behave in a similar fashion. This mission statement will influence the company-wide culture, which helps define the future legacy.
Outline your strategyHaving a solid company strategy in place can guide your decisions now and in the future. Outlining and defining goals, KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), and what it will take to achieve them can shape the legacy you leave tomorrow. Remember that in the end, you’re not just building your own legacy; you're building a legacy for your clients and employees—the people who serve as the framework for your firm’s success.
Focus on peopleEvery aspect of the legacy you’re building involves people—both customers and employees alike. Ask yourself if you’re focused on relationships and on helping clients and workers thrive. You’re in the business of projects, and people are at the center of their success or failure. Put relationships and people first and good things will surely follow.
Practice being a positive influenceLeaders must know who they are, what they stand for, and what they believe in to have a positive impact on their team and the customers they serve. A good leader learns from their mistakes by acknowledging them, learning from them, and making changes that encourage growth.
Create a Memorable Customer ExperienceYour best customers will never forget a positive experience with your company. This can create opportunities for growth across your organization. Conduct regular customer and industry surveys to gain insight into trends, attitudes, and opinions of your audience. Generate high-value AEC research to help firms become more efficient. Also, continue to provide superior service in a professional and friendly way. Take the time to make customers feel appreciated by checking in on occasion or offering help. Most importantly, know your business better than anyone else. This will enable you to make smarter decisions that impact your employees and customers, making the best use of their time and effort.
Cultivate a Culture of GrowthPrioritize your growth and sales pipeline, as these are the factors that will directly impact your bottom line. According to Unanet’s Fall 2021 AEC Inspire Report, firms are prioritizing profitability above all other key performance indicators.
Value Your EmployeesThe resource shortage in AEC is becoming increasingly detrimental, especially amidst a global pandemic. But what about the employees you already have? What can you do to retain the existing talent that is helping your firm meet exceedingly difficult business goals?
Embrace Technology and DataLike it or not, the industry is constantly changing. Leverage the right technology that is designed to support AEC business growth and development. Connecting technology and data can help a business respond more quickly and effectively to challenges or bottlenecks in processes or systems. In the AEC Inspire report, only 54% of companies reported using data regularly/daily. Despite more widespread adoption, the research suggests there are several barriers to gaining insights from existing data, including accessibility issues and missing or inaccurate data.