In part one of this series I covered when to hire and who to hire. In this column, I am going to focus on getting your people in the best roles and what to do when and if you are outgrowing your staff.
So, you’ve found the right people, great. Now, as Jim Collins says in his book, ‘Good to Great’, “make sure they’re in the right seats”. This means make sure everyone on your team is in the right place within your firm, doing the most valuable tasks that support you, your firm and your clients. Leverage their best skills.
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This article was originally published by The Lawyer’s Daily (www.thelawyersdaily.ca), part of LexisNexis Canada Inc.
If you are following my column then you will recall that in part one of this series I covered capacity and building your team. In this, part two of From solo to Firm, I go into business development, marketing and branding,
Enjoy the read.
Whether you are growing beyond solo practice to creating a firm, a partner growing your team, or a managing partner growing your firm, this simple formula can help you navigate the way forward with respect to growth and staffing.
It’s far too common for lawyers to wait until they are at maximum capacity and beyond to bring in help. Managing growth is a good problem to have, however, it does pose new challenges.
So here it is. When you are at about 60% capacity, start looking to recruit. That gives you the luxury of time to find the right people. You can be selective and not panic. You can take your time to find the right people and fit. And, that way, by the time you are at 80% capacity, you will still have time to groom, mentor, train, and get your people up to speed before you hit your wall.
If you wait until later, you may, as is often the case, find yourself in a never-ending cycle of chicken and egg. Where is the time to train? Who do you bring on? “Oh, I might as well just do it myself-even though that means long nights and weekends.” Think forward. don’t get caught thinking I can’t afford to bring someone in right now. Can you afford not to?
Sure, there are many other factors here: Letting go of the reigns, quality control, consistency, profitability. But they are all better managed when you are proactive and plan ahead. Think forward!
Recently I’ve had multiple clients experiencing staffing issues. This can be very frustrating when you are trying to provide your clients with the very best service. Not to mention the time, energy and focus it can take away from higher-level issues; strategy, growth, and your longer term view.
Before we talk about goodbye, here are a couple of tips to ensure you are doing your best as a leader to give your people every chance to succeed.
- First, to repeat what I’ve said before, be clear with specific direction when you are delegating any task, even if it has been performed before.
- Provide regular feedback, both constructive and positive. Don’t wait for the ‘yearly review’, do this consistently.
- When they get it right, make sure they know.
- Give them the tools, training, support and encouragement to support their growth.
But let me be clear. When you have done everything you can do to support their success, and they still don’t measure up, you are both better off moving on. Obviously this is not the right position or place for them. By keeping them on at this point you are lowering the bar and setting a very bad example for the rest of your team. You’ve done your best. Now it’s time to say goodbye and find the right person to invest your time and energy into.
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.