Rising Number of Design Firms Report Firing or Laying off Principals

Nine percent increase in dismissals due to non-performance

ZweigWhite’s recently released 2014 Principals, Partners and Owners Survey found the number of firms reporting firing or laying off a principal due to non-performance has risen 9 percentage points to 37 percent, up from 28 percent last year. Nearly 20 percent of firms report firing a principal due to misconduct.

Deciding who should fill an upper level management position can be a difficult task. When good systems aren’t in place the results can be disastrous, reports ZweigWhite, finding that 30 percent of principals, partners, and owners stated that principal(s) in their firm abuse their position by failing to pull their weight. 

"In this day and age, margins are too thin and markets too tight to carry overpriced dead wood at the top. Not to mention the damaging effect it has on morale," said Mark Zweig, ZweigWhite founder and CEO.

ZweigWhite’s 2014 Principals, Partners and Owners Survey found that just about half (49 percent) of A/E/P and environmental firms report following minimum eligibility requirements for principal positions, with large firms being more likely to have eligibility requirements than small firms. Eligibility requirements often include professional registration/licensure (the most common requirement), followed by business development/sales abilities, project management experience, staff management responsibilities, a minimum number of years experience (typically 10 years), and a minimum number of years of service to the firm (typically five years).