On last week’s team training tele-class a healthy discussion started brewing around feeling “overwhelmed, undervalued and unheard.”
The conversation started with how to “fit it all in” for the team and for 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 this “never enough time” feeling leaves the attorney and the team both feeling overwhelmed, undervalued and unheard. How does this happen?
We began to break down the 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 the mindset that “it is what it is” and a life of reactivity that “it’s just part of being in business.” Well, it doesn’t have to be!
Bottom-line, the most successful solo small practice firms live a life by design vs. default. Everything we’ve heard, read and seen on success shows the common theme is you want to model the belief, values and behaviors of successful people.
Here are three keys to success we’ve seen in successful entrepreneurs who are proactive not reactive to their businesses and their lives:
1. They control their calendars vs. their calendars controlling them.
2. They have proactive weekly communication with their team.
3. They have a process for what you do.
Here is how each of these keys can take away the sense of being overwhelmed, undervalued and unheard.
Overwhelmed: The number one cause of feeling overwhelmed is reacting to whatever the day throws at you. The tool “Time and Money” is the technique that will eliminate overwhelm and replace it with focus, immediately. 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 feeling like there is never enough time, and that you 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 solely from inconsistent, weekly, proactive communication. Not making the time to carve out weekly team meetings with a pre-set agenda is the core of feeling of “undervalued.” The “typical” way people conduct business is by holding weekly team meetings where the focus is only on current 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 voice mails to which there is no follow up.
In our experience, the number one reason team feels undervalued is simply because there is no follow-up to things the team brings up and as team it is our job to follow up on the 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. It allows for consistent communication, which is the solution.
Unheard: This nasty offender is due to lack of following process. When we derail from process, 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 head above water. We start to blow off our weekly team meetings, skip workshop confirmation calls, pass over follow-up calls, ditch proper trust reviews, and next thing you know, 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 agreeing or disagreeing with the validity of the statements, BUT these are clear indications 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 pretty much set the calendar every 90-days for a breakdown of some sort stemming from the feelings of overwhelmed, undervalued and unheard. The reason is things start humming. Business starts coming in, and before you know it you are back saying, “we are so busy” and that is when you abandon systems. None of us ever consciously do this, but the slippery slope of “too busy” is the catalyst that starts the vicious cycle.
To avoid this destructive cycle occurring every 90 days, implement the solutions above for avoiding feeling overwhelm, undervalued and unheard.
To make sure the solutions stick, give your team the support and resources they need to anchor to proactivity and understand how to communicate with you responsibly and effectively. Start your team on the path of a business by design, proactive weekly communication and having a process for what you do. Don’t Be a Yes Chick tele-series is a step by step guide to commit to planning, communication and process. Now accepting registrations for our program beginning April 10th. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to register or for more information.