As a law firm leader, one of your greatest challenges is managing the competing interests of your people. You have various generations, roles, a distinct hierarchy, egos, personalities, and there is always human nature. The challenge? Bringing everyone together, on one team, all going in the same direction, and with one purpose-serving your clients.
One solution is to get everyone focused on one common goal-your clients! The way to do this is to instill a way of being that, ‘no matter what’, the client comes first. To begin this process bring your people together. Encourage them to leave their egos at the door. Everyone on your team has an important role in serving your clients. Forget titles and rank, job descriptions and seniority. The purpose of this session will be to brainstorm on improving efficiencies and workflow between ALL members of your team.
The new way of ‘being’: As your people move through their day and are working on client files, the 1st action you want them to take is to ask themselves this question, “How can I help you, help me, help the client?”
I’ve seen a lot of so-called team building seminars and workshops. While they focus on theoretical approaches, this one focus, this one goal, ‘Client 1st Always’, will do more to bring your team together than any ‘fluffy’, ‘feel good’ intellectual exercise.
I liken this approach to a well-functioning sports team or political campaign. When everyone has one singular and common purpose, it does wonders to strip away the competing interests, egos, and hierarchy. Everyone has one thing in common with each other; providing the very best service to your clients.
As a law firm leader, to positively impact the successful growth of your firm, you have to have the ability to attract and keep top-level talent. Whether it be at the junior stage with students and young associates, mid to senior associates, or high-value lateral partners, the approach is the same. Follow these five steps and you and your firm will garner a reputation as ‘THE’ firm to work for in your market.
- Recruitment- “Get the right people on the bus”-one of my favorite lines in the book, “Good to Great”, by Jim Collins. When you start at the beginning and get the right people, you are setting your firm up for future success. There will be less pushing and pulling, more teamwork and focus on client service, and your job as a leader will be far more enjoyable and lucrative.
- Properly on-board them: I find this component to be missing or dreadful at best in most firms. However you attract your talent, doesn’t it make sense to provide them with everything they need to get a good head start upon landing?
- Continue to support their development: Continued success means continued development. Think like a tech firm, constantly investing in innovating their products. Your product is your people.
- Market the hell out of it- Make sure the whole world knows about it. This is really about becoming known as ‘the’ firm to work at.
- Repeat- When you follow the first 4 steps above, each time you go through the cycle your ability to attract and keep top-level talent will increase.
There are so many benefits of following this formula; savings from higher retention rates; improved client satisfaction; firm growth, and higher profits.
Keep reading as I offer more insights for law firm leaders here in the weeks to follow.
You may also be interested to follow the ongoing series on The Lawyers Daily entitled “Building a Successful Law Firm”. I offer this in collaboration with Lisa Dawson and Mayur Gadhia. We have formed a Law Firm Leadership Alliance From start-up to wind up, we bring leadership expertise in Finance, Business Administration, Taxation, Risk Management, Cloud and Technology, IT Decision Making, Human Resources and Full Cycle Talent Management, Executive, Associate and Support Staff Leadership Coaching, and much more.
Here is a link to the intro article published in TLD.
Law firm leadership is often talked about and has been for some time. Yet we still find very little progress on this front. If you’ve read my column before you will note a very practical, common sense and simple approach that I take with my clients. Keep it simple, because simple works.
When you set your people “free” you will be utterly amazed to find out what they are capable of achieving, hence the title. If you restrain them or try to keep complete control, they will not be as invested or motivated to contribute on a higher level. Engage them, empower them and inspire them to be a part of your plans — whatever those plans might be.
Read more here.
Are you leading a team, practice group or your firm? Try this. Get everyone focused on one thing-your clients. Make it the mission of your team or group ‘client 1st always’. When you get everyone focused on the same goal or outcome, then collaboration, cooperation and workflow will improve. Retention, growth and profitability will follow.
You see this approach strips away a lot of the egos and self-centered mentality. Like a sports team whose only goal is to win, you create a common thread-something everyone can and should be a part of.
Make it about this. “How can I help you help me help the client?”
This one is short. If you’d like to know more. Call me. 604.669.5235
Think about a time when a leader really stood out for you. It could have been on a sports team, a teacher, public figure, manager, friend, or mentor. Do you remember why they stood out? Do you remember why you respected them so much?
Take a minute to write down the qualities that you admire or admired. Then write down how they made you feel. Did they inspire you do to better or your best? Did they teach your something valuable? Did they instill a feeling in you that you had potential and could achieve anything you wanted if you put your mind to it? Did they make you feel part of the team? Did you feel they listened to you?
If you are in a leadership position, any position, take a look at your notes and then follow that approach with the people you are leading. And watch how they respond to you. You will be well on your way to taking your team, project, group or firm to an entirely new level.
Why is it so many professionals have a tough time delegating?
When done properly, delegating allows you to take your business to the next level. There is only one of you. Whether you are out on your own or working in a firm, you can only grow so much before you reach your capacity. The trouble is most people wait too long before they start to think about delegating, then it becomes even more stressful as they don’t have the time to properly get their team up to speed.
I see this all the time where the lawyer gets to a point where it seems more efficient to do the work yourself rather than teach a junior how to do it. It becomes a vicious cycle that you can never break out of.
Try this! When you are at about 60% of your capacity, start looking for help. That way, by the time you find the right person, or people, you will still have time to teach them, groom them, ensure they are following your strict adherence to client service.
The other thing that will help you remain in control is to ensure you have the systems and processes in place to replicate your approaches. Then it’s simply a matter of finding the right people and teaching them, providing regular feedback, and perhaps most importantly making sure your people know they can come to you for help at any time.