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|January 06, 2016 ||
Vol. 46 No. 19
GBA has published a new guide for the in-house review of geotechnical, environmental, CoMET, and other geoprofessional reports. Titled GBA Guide to the In-House Review of Geoprofessional Reports, the new publication is organized into three principal content areas to help reviewers consider major issues and to give report writers a clear framework for preparing reports and considering reviewers' comments. The publication provides step-by-step instructions — as well as overarching concepts — for report writers and reviewers, with a focus on a report's ability to satisfy the contractual obligations it was intended to fulfill; the quality of its technical and risk-management content; and the clarity of presentation. Developed for all geoprofessionals by GBA's Geotechnical Business Council, the new guide advises reviewers that the nature of their comments "is critically important: They should convey suggestions for improvement and positive reinforcement. They should not be focused only on deficiencies. Criticism is unnecessary and, in most cases, counter-productive. The recommended procedures encourage close communication between reviewers and report writers throughout the review process…so reviewers can use it for mentoring purposes, and report writers can regard it as an opportunity to learn."
In an ideal world, your bills would all be paid within 30 days. Recognizing that we do not live in an ideal world, GBA has published Getting Paid, a 19-page guide comprising 21 chapters, each focused on a specific technique to achieve prompt payment while sidestepping some clients’ efforts to avoid payment altogether, typically by filing a negligence claim. According to GBA President Gordon M. Matheson, Ph.D., P.E., P.G., D.GE (Schnabel Engineering, Inc.), "For many years, efforts to collect a bill have been a principal trigger to negligence claims. For that reason, GBA has counseled consistently that it is better to write off a fee than it is to contest it with an unscrupulous client. A key preventive, discussed in the guide, is performing a thorough background check before accepting a new client….It's also why design and environmental professionals' contracts should include a dispute-resolution mechanism that makes litigation a last resort or not an alternative at all."
According to Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement: Optimizing Organizational Culture for Success, a 2015 research report prepared by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), only 69% of employees felt they were consistently putting all their effort into their work. How do you improve on that in your own operation? Seeking to find answers, Inc. magazine asked that question to a group of highly successful entrepreneurs and developed 14 outstanding suggestions from their responses. We've listed the top five below. Learning about the other nine, along with guidance on what to do about them, is just a click away!
- gamify and incentivize;
- let employees know you trust them;
- set smaller weekly goals;
- give your employees purpose; and
- radiate positivity.
Burnout happens. The trick is to identify it as soon as possible, to make it easier to do something positive about it. Familiarize yourself with the warning signs of burnout, what each one means, and what you can do to fight back. We've compiled a list of seven physical, psychological, and behavioral signs of burnout. If you experience a few of them from time to time, that's no big deal. However, if they become the norm, try to respond before they threaten your mental and physical health. Three from the list:
The other four, and guidance on how to confront all seven, are yours with just a click.
- Negative attitudes toward your work, workplace, or colleagues.
- Creeping exhaustion.
- Feelings of stagnation, as though your work just isn’t getting you anywhere.
CE Risk Management
While educating one's own staff in proper safety procedures is essential, maintaining site safety can be difficult when your own personnel must work with individuals whose safety awareness is less acute. Consider working with the constructor-in-charge to create a site-specific safety program established by a site-specific safety committee, comprising representatives of your own firm and each major trade, with the latter comprising diverse roles at work; e.g., from laborers to foremen, to benefit from a range of experience. Break down traditional barriers by encouraging committee members to socialize and discuss daily tasks at "tool-box talks" and safety discussions. Reward outstanding safety behavior by publicly recognizing a specific trade or company for its efforts, at a progress meeting or in a formal project report.
National Association for Surface Finishing
The time was that business had little interest in reducing energy use, because energy was so cheap the investment required to conserve it made the effort financially unacceptable. Some businesses may have the same attitude toward safety; i.e., the availability of workers'-compensation insurance coupled with the low cost of OSHA fines makes the acceptance of safety risks financially okay. That's all changed, thanks to language in the federal budget bill that will allow OSHA to increase fines almost 80% in one jump, and increase annually thereafter by the rate of inflation. The maximum repeat- or willful-violation fine would increase from $70,000 to $124,768; the maximum serious-violation fine would increase from $7,000 to $12,477. OSHA will propose its new penalty schedule by no later than August 1, 2016. Higher fines should increase the value of safety (and fine avoidance) high enough to encourage far more rigorous adherence to on-the-job safety precepts.
For a complete list of upcoming events, click here.
Leadership & Learning with Kevin Eikenberry
Imagine a day when your firm's entire 100-person staff is hard at work, but just about half are working remotely. Some GBA-Member Firms may not have to imagine that; working remotely may already be a fact of their business lives. But for others, including those who believe working remotely is unacceptable, a mind/management-style change is inevitable. Many Millennials crave being able to work remotely at least part of the time and, in an era when talented people are in great demand — and know they are — traditional work arrangements will not suffice; management will have to adapt. But adapting may be more complex than some folks think, especially when it comes to communication. In fact, which communication method is best for the issue, time, and people involved? Back when, choices were limited: Call or visit. Today, however, Kevin Eikenberry writes, "Are you going to call or e-mail? Are you going to Skype, Facetime, or Hangout? Text, IM, Yammer, or Slack? The conference line or Webex (or GotoMeeting)? Are you going to use video or not? Is a voice mail helpful or not? Business line or cell phone?"
M. Arthur Gensler started a three-person architectural firm that he built into a 5,000-person organization operating from 46 locations. He shared his top-ten rules for business success during the Dodge Executive Outlook Conference. Do these marvelous insights apply to geoprofessional firms? Of course, as long as you have at least three people — including yourself! — on staff:
- take advantage of every opportunity,
- embrace the small projects,
- develop long-term relationships with clients,
- hire the top talent,
- build a strong work culture,
- focus on retention,
- value your work,
- avoid internal competition,
- encourage employees to have a life outside of work, and
- give back to the community.
Why did this take so long? We have no answer to that, but — if you haven't heard — Domino's pizza will soon be delivering pizzas not in whatever kind of vehicle a driver happens to own, but — instead — in a Domino's DXP (Delivery eXPert), a modified Chevrolet Spark equipped with a warming oven and space for 80 pizzas, sides, two-liter bottles of soda, and dipping sauces. It even has a puddle light that projects the Domino's logo onto the ground. Four years in the making, the DXP has undergone flammability testing, cold-weather testing, rain testing, and excessive-use, including 10,000 cycles of opening and closing the warming-oven door. One hundred DXPs are in production. You'll see them first in Boston, Detroit, Houston, New Orleans, San Diego, and Seattle.
For decades now, engineers have come to realize that it's wise to have architects and landscape architects involved with their horizontal-design projects, because architects and landscape architects commonly possess an artistic flair that engineers generally lack; an artistic flair that can make something as utilitarian as an on-ramp entrance take on a far more aesthetic, community-friendly appearance. This now applies even to something as utilitarian (also labelled "brutish" and "aesthetically gross") as a seawall. Consider "Metamorphous." Designed by Paul Sangha Landscape Architecture, the seawall is, for all intents and purposes, a 200-foot-long piece of public art whose concrete and steel protects homes on the English Bay coastline. Working with a biologist and engineers, the landscape architects began by placing boulders along the foreshore (the area between low tide and high tide) and adding plantings like dune grasses and pine shrubberies that would slow water's flow toward the houses and encourage the deposit of sand. Take a look at this thing! It just may encourage you to include a landscape architect on your next geoprofessional project.
| || 2015-2016 GBA BOARD OF DIRECTORS|
Gordon M. Matheson, Ph.D., P.E., P.G., D.GE
(Schnabel Engineering, Inc. / Glen Allen, VA)
Laura R. Reinbold, P.E.
(Terracon / Nashville, TN)
Charles L. Head, P.E., P.G.
(Sanborn, Head & Associates, Inc. / Concord, NH)
Kenneth R. Johnston
(GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc. / Norwood, MA)
Kimberly F. Morrison, P.E., R.G.
(Morrison Geotechnical Solutions, Inc. / Denver, CO)
Alex Sy, Ph.D., P. Eng.
(Klohn Crippen Berger Ltd. / Vancouver, BC)
Woodward L. Vogt, P.E., D.GE, F.ACI, F.ASCE, F.ASTM
(Paradigm Consultants, Inc. / Houston, TX)
7701 Las Colinas Ridge, Ste. 800, Irving, TX 75063