How in the world do we “fit it all in” for the team and the attorney while still being able to serve the clients each week? It kept coming back to “There’s never enough time!” The interesting thing is that this sense of “never enough time” leaves the attorney and the team feeling overwhelmed, undervalued and unheard. How does this happen?
After a call with one such client, we began to break down our observations one small piece at a time. The team went from feeling overwhelmed and unheard to leaving the call feeling empowered, knowing there is a tool in their toolbox to take them (the team and attorney) out of a life of reactivity and the mindset that “it is what it is” and “it’s just part of being in business.” Well, it doesn’t have to be!
Bottom line, the most successful small firms live a life by design vs. default. Everything we’ve heard, read and seen on success shows that the common approach is to model the belief, values and behaviors of successful people.
Here are three keys we’ve seen in successful entrepreneurs who are proactive, not reactive, to their businesses and their lives:
- They control their calendars vs. their calendars controlling them.
- They have proactive weekly communication with their team.
- They have a process for what they do.
Here is how each of these keys can take away the sense of being overwhelmed, undervalued and unheard.
Overwhelmed: The No. 1 cause of feeling overwhelmed is reacting to whatever the day throws at you. The tool “Time and Money” is a technique that will eliminate overwhelm and replace it immediately with focus. The folks who spend one hour (as a team) watching the “Time and Money” webinar are the ones who drastically decrease the feeling of overwhelm, of being on a roller coaster ride of emotions, of feeling like there is never enough time and that they can’t get to the important things. Weekly focus is the solution. “Time and Money” will support you in getting there.
Undervalued: Feeling undervalued stems from inconsistent communication. Not making the time to carve out weekly team meetings with a pre-set agenda often fosters a feeling of being undervalued. People typically conduct business either by holding weekly team meetings where the focus is only on work in progress or by having hallway conversations. Conversations are started, but then time is up, and you never get back to them, or you start communication ping pong with emails and voicemails, to which there is no follow-up.
In our experience, the No. 1 reason team feels undervalued is simply because there is no follow-up on anything the team brings up, and as team it is our job to follow up on these things. Team, we promise you, it is not the attorney blowing you off or intentionally not following up on the things he/she promised. It’s simply a result of not keeping the commitment to your time together each week to handle these matters, no matter what! Weekly team meetings and production meetings are sacred ground and should not be violated. They allow for consistent communication, which is the solution.
Unheard: This nasty offender is due to a lack of following process. When we derail from process, often due to being “too busy,” the unforeseen chaos this creates is inconceivable. In our experience, the story goes something like this: We start to get busier, and the attorney gets jammed up. The team is swamped, and we can barely keep our heads above water. We start to blow off our weekly team meetings, skip workshop confirmation calls, pass over follow-up calls and ditch proper trust reviews. Next thing you know, you hear team comments such as:
- “I suggested we X, but she never confirmed if we can do that or not.”
- “I sent him an email about it last Tuesday and still haven’t received a response.”
- “I shared that the client was unhappy and needed a call back, but that still hasn’t happened.”
- “I know we don’t see clients on Mondays but there is nowhere else to put them, and if I don’t get them in, they will go down the street.”
We are neither agreeing nor disagreeing with the validity of the statements, but these are clear indications that the feeling of being “unheard” is beginning to permeate your team. This happens when everyone begins violating the structures and processes you have in place just to “keep up.” When that happens, all vehicles that were your safety nets (focused calendaring, weekly team meetings and processes) have gone out the window due to survival. Process is the solution. “Skipping things” will never get you caught up and will cause everyone, team and attorney, to feel “unheard,” which carries even bigger consequences.
In our experience, you can mark the calendar every 90 days for a breakdown of some sort stemming from some version of the feeling of overwhelm. The firm is finally feeling like it is grooving. Business starts coming in, and before you know it team is back saying, “We are so busy,” and that is when all abandonment of systems starts. This is not a conscious decision, but “too busy” is the catalyst that starts the vicious cycle.
To avoid this deflating sequence, make sure you have the right people in the right roles. If you would like a complimentary diagnostic call, click here to schedule now.