We talk about building relationships with clients—getting closer to them and letting them know us a bit better. But when you manage a business, can you be too close to those who work for you? We’ve worked with many law firm owners and managers who believe they know their business well, including the folks who work for them. In reality, business owners can sometimes be too close to be objective.
Let’s look at an example: We recently worked with a law firm that wasn’t seeing the conversion rate they expected on incoming calls. The managing partners had no idea what the problem was or how to fix it. LMA stepped in and did an analysis of the process, including “shopping” the firm (calling in as an injured party and taking notes regarding the intake process). This independent analysis pinpointed several issues within the process itself that were causing potential clients to go elsewhere. This led to a working plan to correct the issues and improve conversion.
As in this particular example, we frequently find that owners are too close to the situation to really “see” it. Bringing in an objective third party to look at the firm as a whole made the situation clear. A third party can look for “holes” in the process and implement changes to close the gaps and ensure things run smoothly and more effectively. If you are worried you might be too close, here are some things for you to ponder:
- Do you encourage employees to suggest new ways of doing things and honestly consider their suggestions? The business world has changed drastically and not making changes simply because “that’s the way we’ve always done it” won’t work anymore. If you shoot down suggestions too frequently, your staff will stop offering input. Closing that line of communication can have long-term negative consequences.
- Do you know what each person in your office does on a daily basis? As a test, ask a couple of the key people to write down (summary level) what tasks they do during an average week and the amount of time spent. Are they doing what you thought? When is the last time you looked at the process?
- Do you know what each person’s strengths are? There are many cases where individuals are in the wrong job. It could have been a bad match to start with, but it’s also likely the job has changed or the person has grown. If you have a situation where the skills aren’t there or the person simply isn’t happy, it will show in their work output.
It is easy to get caught up in the day to day challenges associated with running the firm. It is necessary to periodically step back and take an objective look at the processes and the people. It can help to bring in a third party to help you—either a business coach to point you in the right direction or someone to come in and do a full analysis and determine where the issues lie. Questions? Give us a call at 919.821.4004 or e-mail Lauren at firstname.lastname@example.org.