In working on a development project through another of my ventures, it has been brought home to me how crucial it is that civil engineers advise their clients – tell them what to do – instead of just functioning like order takers.
Too many times, clients direct their engineers and the engineers do what they are told when instead they need to inform their clients (tactfully, of course) about what the client really should have them do. Why aren't engineers more assertive? There are several reasons, including:
- To do what the client really needs done will cost more. They are afraid to look self-serving or broach the client with a request for more money.
- To do what the client really needs will require telling the client something the client doesn't want to hear. It's easier not to give bad news – and there's less conflict. Engineers like to avoid conflict.
- To do what the client really needs will take longer. And even though it may be the proper scope to do what the client needs, the engineer doesn't want to be blamed for slowing down the project.
- To do what the client really needs will require skills the engineer doesn't have. And heaven forbid, he or she doesn't want to admit they don't know all and surely don't want to give someone else a chance to steal their client.
None of these, of course, is a good reason for not at least informing the client of their options and not giving your professional opinion. No one hires you just because they love you. They hire you because they want to get something done.
And if you work on the other end – the client side – are you willing to be open to new ideas and to the best thinking of the qualified professionals you have hired to help you? If not, why not? Are you working with the wrong engineers or are you just too darn stubborn and close-minded to listen to someone who only wants to help you?
We have a great issue of CE News here for you in March. Read it all – share it with your coworkers and friends – and please, offer your comments or feedback to me directly via email. Thanks for reading our publication!
Mark C. Zweig