7 Things Law Firms Should Be Doing

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  1. 1. 7 THINGS 01/02/2015 Law Firms Should Do With Their StaffBut Arent... Grow Closer to Your Clients Grow the Skill Sets of Your Team Grow Your Fee Base ...and stop looking for shortcuts; if youre not doing these things youre not experiencing growth, youre witnessing a blip... Mike Barnes.
  2. 2. Typing not using a keyboard; making sure they have the right typology for the right role. You see, at the end of the day the old Finder, Minder, Grinder description isnt too far off. You need someone who can be the rainmaker and secure new clients, you need someone who can maintain existing relationships and you need someone who can do the technical delivery and job administration to ensure that expectations are met in a timely and profitable manner. Certain personality types have a preference for how they communicate with others and in much the same way, how they cope with adversity. Its what your team member does when he/she is under pressure that counts. According to Don Riso (r.i.p) and Russ Hudson of the Enneagram Institute (New York) the three styles for coping with adversity are Intensity I need everyone else to understand the pressure Im under and the severity of the situation (Often creating even more damage by interrupting the effectiveness of others and distracting from possible solutions by focusing too much on the problem) - Positive Outlook Im sure everything will work out in the end, I look on the bright side which keeps me happy (often slipping into complete denial about whats going on around them) and Competency lets get a plan, break it down and then just work our way out of this situation (often to the frus- tration of others by appearing so pragmatic that they are perceived as uncaring or ignorant of the severity of the problem) Against the backdrop of how people cope are their roles and the comprehensive needs of the organisation. In short, put someone with the wrong coping style and the wrong communication style into the wrong role and the organisation will constantly struggle with the underperformance of perfectly good people with adequate skills. Remember, skills and experience are useful, but only if theyre applied effectively TYPING Number 1: SCOPING Number 2: Scoping coach the team to look for the work around the edges of the job. All too often opportunities are missed to provide a more holistic service because the team are focused only on the issue at hand. This issue can generally be broken into two key components. 1. Lack of skills and training that restricts your team mem- ber from knowing how to ask the open ended questions or 2. A firm mental restriction that stops your team member from feeling like they have permission to be more open with their client. This often has a lot to do with the super ego position of your team member; that is to say, their internal perspective of their professional self-image. Against this image are a set of (self-imposed) rules that can often inhibit people from taking chances that allow themselves to grow professionally. These rules can effectively put the blinkers onto your team members when dealing with clients as they dont perceive they have permission to discuss issues outside the immediate nature of the job in question.
  3. 3. At the heart of the matter lies a position of youve come to me for my advice, I must have all the answers and the sooner I can show you how to fix your problem the more important and professional I will appear. Further, in many cases where success has been achieved the individual begins to over-identify with the role which locks them into a hierarchal position within their organisation. Youll notice these people within your team by virtue of the office politics and sarcasm with fellow team members. Unfortunately your firms clients will pick up on the lack of authenticity of these individuals which will only increase the team members disruptive behaviour patterns as more and more clients choose to buy less and less from your firm SCOPING Continued... SEE THE NUMBERS Number 3: See the numbers encourage the team to understand the basics around entity and period of management accounting. Being able to have something to contribute to a business owners financial problems enable your team to better position for commercial work (even if its delivered by someone else in your team) this can apply even if the main discussion is centred on estate planning! Again, this comes down to your team having a combination of skills, confidence and resource that allows them to widen the arena of discussion WITHOUT moving into giving advice of an accounting or financial nature. Its simple; if your team cant ask fundamental business con- cept questions then it shows they dont understand business. Dont understand business, why should your clients include your team as critical advisers in their life?
  4. 4. Speak Up! Coach your team to become engaging presenters (not a stuffy university style professor anyone can do that!) The skills learned in platform presenting are central to all effective communication. Aristotle used to break it into Ethos, Pathos and Logos; not a lot has changed! Even in a one to one environment, the ability to reveal the story or create a metaphor will allow the client to better connect with the information being provided. Ask your- self this question; What do most people do with well-meaning advice? vs. What do most people do with an idea they developed for themselves? Facilitation is simply making things easier and in the case of working with your clients, your team needs to learn how to make it easy for clients to decide to act. Their decision to act not only influences their agreement to engage your teams services for money but it means theyre more likely to swiftly act on the information provided and achieve better outcomes for themselves. Correct Facilitation coaching will enable your team to understand the bridge-permission-framing aspects of presenting to clients, be it one to one or one to hundreds SPEAK UP! Number 4: SHOW THE LADDER Number 5: Show them the ladder let your team know what lies ahead for them but not in terms of career path but more in terms of director competencies worked backwards. (To do this requires that you have in fact previously written down the core competencies and measurable behaviours of a fully competent and effective director in a quality legal firm) Letting your team know the technical and soft skills required to be effective at different operational levels within your firm will go a long way to helping your team reach the decision necessary for willing self-improvement. Heres another question for you; When was the last time a team member of yours spent their own money to develop themselves? (Perhaps this could become a KPI for team engagement)
  5. 5. Show Them The Door! - If youve got a team member that is simply stuck in a rut and resisting all attempts to improve themselves, suggest that perhaps they may be happier and healthier working for another organisation. Let them know that an honest understanding of who they are and what they are willing to do (and not do) is cornerstone to everyone building a healthy happy life. Why stick around if youre not interested in growing as a professional? (lifes too short) Sure, theres proper procedures to be followed here but lets not lose sight of the need for honesty in the workplace SHOW THE DOOR Number 6: COACH THEM Number 7: Coach them. Dont just tell them, dont just demonstrate, do the whole lot including the self-review and feedback loops after structured rehearsal and field observation. You can begin by identifying the key skills that you believe have made you successful; one last question for you when was the last time you wrote down the 5 key things that you think contributes to your fee growth and then worked out what the actual physical skill or behaviour is that lies at the heart of that attribute? From there, you would know what to pass to your team by way of COACHING rather than demanding. Too busy to do this? Watch the money and the good team members walk out the door
  6. 6. I coach professionals to do the things they wont do on their COACH Mike regularly consults throughout NZ to increase the leverage within professional services firms and speaks on a variety of topics, including Closing the Skill Gap and What Blocks Professionals From Selling. Mike considers himself a coaching addict Its WHO I am, not WHAT I do explains Mike, Its how Im wired; its in every part of my life. Mike is a passionate exponent of The Enneagram Personality Profiling System, (He attended in New York at the hands of the masters Don Riso & Russ Hudson) which allows Mike to explore the blockages that stop people from reaching their own true potential. I coach professionals to do the things they wont do on their own says Mike, my greatest sense of self-worth comes from watching others grow and knowing I played a critical part in it. MIKE BARNES The Professional Development Coach to Accountants, Lawyers & Financial Advisers The learning from this has been amazing! says Mike. The very real threat of serious injury combined with the pressure of being a professional athlete is the perfect place to find what really works, and throws out all the garbage that most of the self-help books promote. MIKE & KAYNE