We talk to attorneys all day, every day. We typically start the conversation off with, “What are you not seeing that you really need and want to?” It starts with what’s not working, what is working and what they so desperately wish they could find time to work on, but can’t because they’re not confident that anyone has their back while they step away from the business.
“So, what I’m hearing is your desperate to know someone in your firm has your back. To know that someone’s got yours (the business owner) and the firm’s (reputation) and the client’s (why we all still have jobs) back?
Every attorney is desperate to hear, “I got your back!” and then see consistent evidence that their employees know what this means.
There is no lonelier feeling than being a business owner. You start off as a solopreneur, practicing law independently. You’re good at what you do, and business is coming in. You soon recognized the need to hire a few people, start growing your team. You got juuuust the right people in place—in your mind, they were going to dive in head-first, clear your plate of the day-to-day operational tasks, and completely free you up to keep growing your business.
But somewhere between your new employees diving in head-first and you being able to focus on growing your business, you get that gut feeling that you need to start paying closer attention. Turns out that people are a lot of work. They require training. They need to be developed into the type of employees who can step up, suit up, and start taking over the tasks that you simply don’t have time for if you really want to focus on building a successful and sustainable business. They need to be taught how to be their own leaders…and unfortunately, that just doesn’t happen overnight.
If you’re feeling frustrated with your team—if you’re sick of balls dropping, office drama, details slipping through the cracks, etc.—chances are your team is feeling just as frustrated. They probably want to help, but are struggling with where to start. They are just as desperate to get you out of the day to day. They want to take the management tasks off your plate, how to stand in for you at that industry event, how to problem solve without asking for your input every 5 minutes…
But training and development alone won’t turn your team into effective leaders—you have to be willing to hand over some ownership. Teach them how to do what you do, and hand over your responsibilities—along with the authority to make decisions without your approval. Not only is this huge for improving employee engagement and loyalty, but it’s what will ultimately free you up to focus on growing your firm.
You also need to let your team members get connected with each other, and with other industry colleagues. It’s no secret that powerful leaders are skilled networkers. Learning from you is great—learning from other industry leaders, too…now that’s a truly valuable experience…for your team member and your firm.
Employee development isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it deal. As your employees progress and really start to stand into their roles as leaders, it’s important that you continue to mentor them. Meeting with your team members one-on-one, whether to discuss new ideas, brainstorm solutions to problems they may be struggling with, or to open up a dialogue about a work-related book or article you both read, is key to keeping the lines of communication open, and making sure your insight and appreciation is evident, always.
We get it, it is a big investment. Not just financially, but time-wise, too. Developing your team members into leaders, hearing “I got you and I got this firm” and having confidence that is finally true, is scary. But Investing in the right people now will reap huge dividends later.
If your team is good, but you’re ready to make them “I got your back” great, schedule a call and we can strategize mastering your next move.