Showing posts with label Manage People. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Manage People. Show all posts

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Practice Target - a 6 month Transformation Program

If you found this, you know me, or someone you trust does. This is truly shameless promotion. Shameless because it's a great program! Heads up.

Well, I finally invested quite a bit in copywriters and designers for my baby, The Practice Target, and I have had the worst luck with getting a new site launched and a sales page up. If something could get in the way, it did. Which is why I'm going to give you information here. On my in-transition to G+ blog. 

I have a six month group program called The Practice Target, starting in October- so it's time for imperfect marketing action on my part. Here's the scoop, it's a LONG description, so you have the chance to really "get" what the program is about- in short, the next step is to schedule a conversation if you're interested.

Bad news? Not a lot of prep time or time to choose. And that's the good news too. Think about that.

Here’s How I Can Help You Grow

I've designed a 6-month program called The Practice Target. I’ll personally guide you through a transformation of your business. By the end of the course, you will have gone through a series of significant changes to your business.

The key point I’d like you to remember is that I’m there with you during the entire process. Each step is part of a gradual process that will result in an entirely new legal practice.

I’d like you to think of my course as a menu. I’ll offer you proven solutions and you’ll begin selecting the changes you believe are most important to your business. Remember, you are in charge. Over time, you’ll probably want to add more and more of the elements into the mix.

Very simply: each change you make will have an effect on your practice. When you implement more than one of these elements, your practice will begin to transform.

I’m not saying this to hype my program. I’m saying this because it’s the experience of the lawyers who have worked with me already.

Here’s Your Practice Target Roadmap

Month One: Time Management

It’s the number one frustration most lawyers face. Where does the time go? Most lawyers do not effectively manage their time. And what we’re really talking about is self management, not time management. Let me be perfectly clear. This has nothing to do with making lists or using alarms, buzzers or bells to keep you on task.

This is about your choice to manage your time and it sets the pace for all the work we will do together. There can only be one person managing your practice. And that person is you. This is the key principle which distinguishes between a well-run practice and one that runs in “last minute” or “crisis mode.”

We start our work together by putting you in charge of your time rather than the circumstances of the day.

Month Two: Setting Goals For Your Practice

In order to know whether a room is hot or cold, you need a thermometer. If it’s cold, you raise the thermostat. If it’s hot, you lower the thermostat. It’s that simple.

Before we work together on growing your practice, we need to take its temperature. Together we will determine which way to turn the dial.

Most lawyers I work with need to turn the dial up – some by a great deal. This is not a reflection on your skills, talents or compassion as a lawyer. It’s just that you didn’t take any courses on growing or managing your practice. You were just thrown in and what you've achieved is because of your determination.

Now it’s time to grow and set specific goals for your practice.

Month Three: Getting Clients – A Step By Step Plan

This month is about creating a marketing plan that works for you. In this section, we’re going to decide who is the best client for you to work with. (Hint: it’s not anyone with a pulse who walks in the door -even if they’re carrying cash.)

We’re going to decide whom we want to reach and how we want to get through to them. In addition, we will decide what we want to say to them when we have their attention.

It’s the non-sleazy marketing plan built to last. You will never be stuck sitting in their office wondering what to do first or next to get clients after this month.

Month Four: Your Marketing In Action

This is the month that will forever change your mind about the potential of your practice. This is where the rubber meets the road.

This is about making breakthroughs in your practice and discovering what is possible. Here we move from theory into day-to-day, boots on the ground. You’ll be transforming your practice and recreating it in your target image. Just like no two fingerprints are exactly alike – no two legal offices will do things exactly the same way.

You’ll be in at the bottom floor seeing the effect of the marketing program YOU chose. You’ll be astounded as you discover that getting more of the clients you want to work with is easier than you thought. There's no doubt that legal marketing can have a long cycle time, but by now, you will see a difference. You will know what to do to build your practice.

Month Five: Building Systems For Your Practice: Your Key To Having Clients and A Life At the Same Time

The way to run an efficient office is to have systems installed. This way, when something happens, your office experiences the equivalent of a speed bump, rather than a crash.

If you use systems to run your office, it’s a much more professional office.

Let me give you an example. You've planned this summer vacation with your family for a year. Your kids have been looking forward to it since you told them. You’re packed and ready to go when suddenly, disaster strikes.

A member of your team becomes ill or wins the lottery and quits. Someone else is going to have to cover that work.

And your kids send you pictures of their vacation via text message. Unless…

You have the right systems in place to make sure a new staff member can step into the job and be up to speed in rapid time. No, this isn’t Disneyland. Law offices like yours can be systematized so they run more efficiently. When I talk about systems, I'm talking about establishing processes, templates, checklists, standards and the like. I don't recommend specific technology brands, but we will discuss technology to support your work and workflow.

When your office is purring on all cylinders, you’ll never be torn about whether or not you can spend time with your family.

When your office runs without you dealing with every detail, you can be more engaged with your clients giving them the highest caliber representation.

Month Six: Sound Financial Management

I put Financial Management in here even though my clients are lawyers. Most of my clients can handle multiple trust accounts, crunch numbers in divorce settlements, and even keep track of wily accountants. But when it comes to tracking their own numbers, lawyers are way less effective.

Just about every law office I've worked with needs some guidance in this sector. Let’s face it, it’s exciting to see revenue coming in, but boring to truly manage the bottom line. Sometimes it’s scary to face the facts. Challenging to think about actually charging what your work is worth.

Now understand I put this last in the sequence for two reasons:

Number one: by this time I should have built a level of credibility in your eyes.

Number two: most of my clients are very hesitant to admit they need help in this area.

This falls into the area of “Shhh. Don’t talk about it.” No one wants to admit their practice is deficient in this area. But once we make some simple but solid changes, it will have a positive benefit on your practice and your life.

Bonus: Month Seven: Putting It All Together

I include a seventh month as a bonus. Here’s where you graduate but ONLY after I show you how to efficiently integrate all that you have mastered.

In this month, we’ll make sure that you not only know what to do and how to do it but you've also implemented it.

It’s one thing to know ABOUT the topics we've covered. It’s another thing to actually DO them. Day in. Day out.

I want to make sure you do not feel overwhelmed or as if you are still juggling those balls or spinning plates.

I want you fully comfortable that you can maintain your new level of achievement without frustration.

Then and only then will I feel that I have helped you fully achieve your goals.

What’s Next?

Remember how I told you I hate hard selling? Well it’s true. I’d like to invite you to a private conversation with me. This is a conversation – not a sales pitch.

If you are ready to end the frustration and grow your legal practice, I’d like to chat with you.

The consultation is probably an eye-opening experiences that you will encounter in thirty minutes or less. It is an enormously interesting experience. I’ve helped dozens of lawyers find enduring solutions to their practice challenges.

First... I will deeply listen to your situation.

Second... we will explore your own problems and solutions. You will see the possibility of creating this change with the support of a coach and a group of like-minded professionals.

Third ...we will determine if you really want to change your practice model.

Then....if you are a good candidate for program and only if growing your practice is something you really want to commit to... only then... will we discuss our Practice Target program. I've found that whether you have a new practice or have been established for years, we probably can get you better, faster, easier, and more…actually, enduring, results.

Last... You decide. No pressure. No sales. Just a powerful, personal meeting. I give you my word.

I’m either right for you or I am not. You will know it at the consultation that you have with me.

I have a high documented success rate for almost everyone that follows the simple, clear program we lay out together.

Because of the amount of time I spend with each client as well as the group, I actually have a hard limit on the number of clients I work with at any time. If I can not accept you into the October program, I will place you on the waiting list for the next time a place opens.

I am not looking for a commitment to the program. Just the opportunity to spend some quality time with you on the phone.

Please click here to fill out the brief questionnaire and schedule your consultation.

It’s the first step to a new practice.  #lawpracticemanagement#

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dear Santa, How do you do it all? All at once!

Santa Ironing

Dear Santa, one of the BIG things I tell people is that they can do it all, but they can't do it all at the same time. I like to think of their objections ahead of time, that way we don't get stuck on them, we keep moving. So, help me here- what if they say, "but Santa does it all at once"? What can I tell them?

Thanks. I know you haven't answered my first question, but you can just put them in a file and get back to me when you have time. Because you can do it all, but you can't do it all at once, right?

Santa Smiley Face

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Delegate. Cloning takes too long.

Long summer.  Anyway.  My husband, Steve, was away from work for 5 weeks this summer, recovering from hip replacement. (he's fine, thanks)  His email and all system access was disabled and he was truly "off the job".  I asked him what was good about it, he said:  

I had to trust and rely on my staff. 

In the last Get Clients Now! group, one member took a bit of convincing, but agreed to try delegating one particular type of work.  She was of the "I can do it faster and better, I don't trust anyone" persuasion.  Here's her update from that week: 

I used my person to do [type of matter] and it was amazing how fast and good she was.  No mistakes at all!!  I'm in heaven.  Sending her another one.

Can you relate?  So many of you are perfectionists.  But, you know what? You can't build a successful business and maintain a happy personal life without delegating.  Of course there are as many bad stories as good ones.  It's worth it to figure out what you can do to be sure to make your delegation experience is a good one.

You have to change how you delegate, from recruiting to work assignment to feedback & evaluation, until you figure it out.  Delegation is not all art, there is a great deal of science to help you learn how to be more successful. 

No person will make a great business who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit. ~  Andrew Carnegie

Make a commitment to figure out how to delegate.  After all, cloning takes too dang long.

Note: Get Clients Now! isn't about delegation, but the groups do cover a lot of different ground. A new one starts in September. Join us?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Training is a pain. Make it go away!

By the time you hire someone, you're often so swamped that the feeling of "it's easier to do it myself" kicks in full strength.  One way to reduce the training time going forward is to get your trainee to document what you're teaching him and create firm procedures.

Here's how it works:
  1. Think in terms of processes, checklists, naming conventions, samples and templates. Plan your training topics.
  2. When you train, have your trainee take notes and document the procedure, step by step. Note file names where samples can be found, approval checkpoints, risks, etc.
  3. Have the trainee walk you through the documentation he produces, and tell him where corrections need to be made.
  4. File or e-file the documentation in your office procedures file or notebook.
  5. Assign your trainee the role of  creating documentation that will help anyone who takes over when he is undoubtedly given more and different responsibilities as a reward for being such an amazing employee. (or in the event he is bold enough to think he is entitled to a vacation and you use a temp to cover) If you ask him to create a job description and a training manual, he just might do an amazing job of it.
The idea is to get someone else to do the tedious work of creating training materials and procedures so that the number of times you have to train someone on the same topic is reduced.  If you establish checklists and templates as you go, you'll improve your consistency and efficiency.  Putting a beginner in charge of the process will make it more likely that the steps will be comprehensive and easy to follow.

The conversations don't have to happen perfectly, you will still have 'drop and run' work that just needs to get done, but have the idea in mind.

As a note, depending on the technology you use in your practice, this notion can be implemented in that technology.  Think about opportunities to systematize steps in document creation, etc.  When I reference "file", it doesn't mean paper. Could be an e-file. Could be a folder.

If you don't have time to learn the technology you're using, that's another thing a trainee can do for you.  During down time, assign him the task of finding out how to do something in your system. If you think there "must be a better way", there usually is. 

Bottom line is that it would be nice for you to have a very organized approach to bringing someone in and making them productive as soon as possible, but if you don't, use their help to make it up as you go!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Unoriginal Genius: David Allen on "There Are Only Two Problems in Life"

David Allen's Productive Living Newsletter is one that I have kept (& even read) through every email purge cycle. The Productive Living & Getting Things Done resources are phenomenal. Today's newsletter contains his article : "There Are Only Two Problems In Life". Here's the intro:
Years ago, a friend added to my understanding of the fundamental duality of our universe by sharing this observation: "There are only two problems in life: you know what you want and you don't know how to get it; or you don't know what you want." This proposes only two solutions: (1) focus, then (2) organize and allocate your resources. Intend and execute. Create and complete. Make it up, and make it happen.
The end of the first quarter of the year is nearly here, with Spring just around the corner. What a great time to think about which of these two problems might be in your way. Read the article. Use March to choose a focus. What's your intention?  Or, I love that last phrase- make it up.  Then get ready to figure out how to make it happen!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Up your delegation IQ with this 8 point checklist.

Delegation is a 2-way street, make sure you're managing your part to maximize the impact leverage has on your bottom line. 

8 points to consider when you delegate work to an employee or contractor: 

1.  Define the assignment exactly. 

Describe end results as well as any other interim deliverables. Consider mocking up tables or charts; indicate about how many pages you expect to see. Be as specific as possible. If you have something that looks similar, show it.

2.  Be clear on due dates and deliverables.

Ask “when do you think you can have it done?” If the answer doesn’t meet requirements, follow up to see if there are other priorities you can rearrange. At the end of the conversation, be clear on the commitments to deliver. Never leave it at “as soon as you can”. If you think the person has over-committed, question the deadline. You’re training your employee to be reliable as well as realistic.

3.  Specify when you want to see drafts or work-in-progress.

If this is a complex task or a new deliverable for the person, you might want to see a very early draft to make sure the work is moving in the right direction. This can save you a lot of time on the back end.

4.  Establish approval and interim check points.

If there are any critical check points, assign them. Manage yourself to be sure you aren’t a bottleneck in the project. Create appointments for reviews.

     5.  Identify anyone else who needs to be involved.
Discuss any dependencies. Ensure that anyone else who needs to be involved is aware of the schedule. Make sure your employee understands that he should raise a red flag if the project is slipping due to dependencies.

6.  Discuss anything else needed to start the project.

Files or file/systems access? Supplies? Samples?

7.  Anticipate any potential obstacles or challenges.

Identify issues that may arise and how they might be preempted or addressed.

8.  Ask, “Is everything clear?”

Each point should be discussed as needed. This is the wrap-up question, a chance to be sure you’re on the same page. If you have doubts, ask the person to repeat the assignment back to you. This seems like such a no-brainer question, but I promise you’ll get some surprising responses at some point in your career as a manager!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Good question: Why should I listen to this anymore?

I was working with someone on a staff management issue recently. She was incredibly frustrated and wanted to lay down the law and move on. When she described the situation, it was clear to me that her employee needed to be heard. He didn't need to be right; he likely had already accepted the outcome, but he wasn't going to give up until he was heard.

Listening is one of the most important skills for a successful entrepreneur. Or parent, or spouse, citizen of the see where I'm going?  Even if you think there's no value to be gained- consider that sometimes you give the gift of listening. The gift of making sure someone else is heard. And, if you're keeping good company, it's a gift you'll receive back from someone else when it's your turn!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

New hire? It’s key to realize you’ve got a new job, too.

Nothing gives your business a boost like adding an employee to your team. How you manage that person will determine the return on your investment, both in terms of leverage and energy.

In The Art of Possibility, Ben Zander and Roz Stone Zander write about an idea they used with a class of graduate music students. To put their students at ease and open them up to possibility, they came up with the idea of taking away the negative pressure of competition for grades. On the first day of the class, they awarded each student an A, with one requirement.  Each had to write a letter, dated the end of the semester, beginning with the words, "I got my A because....," describing in detail the story of what will have happened by that time.

The authors found that the practice of giving the A allowed the teacher to line up with his students to produce the desired A outcome. This contrasts with the typical relationship, where the teacher aligns with the standards against the student. (like my University of Chicago visiting econ prof who warned us day 1 that 3/4 of the class would fail...) The experiment yielded strong results. The book is full of insights and I highly recommend it if you like to read about motivation, performance, and, my favorite - possibility.

The "so what" of the story is that how you manage your employees from the day they start working with you makes a difference. Often, my clients are so swamped by the time they hire that they don't think they have time to manage a new hire in. Yet, those first weeks are critical, with long-term impact. Whether you're adding a new hire or a contract employee, there are three things you need to do to kick off a great working relationship.

1. Make time to manage:
  • Block time on your calendar for orienting your new employee, preparing the work you delegate, and to do the actual delegation and followup.
  • Schedule a 60-day performance review, whether or not you have a probationary period. EVEN IF YOU ARE THRILLED WITH PERFORMANCE. Formalize it. Performance management is not about problem-solving, it's about proactively creating a high-performing team. If you have the habit of openly discussing performance in a win/win manner, you'll create a relationship and environment that will support you if you DO have problems. It's professional, not personal.
  • Establish a schedule of short checkpoints with your new employee, appointments on both your calendars. This gives the employee the assurance that he will be able to get time with you and lets you stay close to the new employee while you're getting clear on performance expectations and developing trust in his capabilities.
2. Put your new hire at ease:
  • Welcome your new employee, let him know you understand there's a learning curve and tell him you'll support him to make it as smooth as possible.
  • In the beginning, let the employee know you'll have a high degree of involvement, but that you expect that will decrease.
3. Let him know what it takes to get an A grade:
  • You hired someone who wants to do a good job. Make sure that the two of you are in agreement on what that means. Discuss the position and work towards creating specific performance goals and standards. Use the process of creating performance goals as a tool to aim and guide performance, as in the Zander experiment- when the students detailed out how they'd earn their A's. By the end of the initial 60-day review period, you should have a performance management framework that you can use throughout the year.
  • Be precise about your expectations related to work hours and attendance. You must have guidelines and you must be clear about things like days off, vacation requests, etc. The objective here is to make sure you have a fact-based policy to go to in the event that you need it. Lateness and attendance problems will make you crazy; start with clear guidelines and nip problem behavior in the bud.  You want to be understanding, but always with the perspective that you hired a resource, you need that resource, and you count on the resource.
There are so many things to think about when you bring someone new on board, and I've just touched a few here. I'll end by referring you to the title of the post- it's key to realize you've got a new job too. In the beginning, you'll work harder than before as your employee comes up to speed. I understand the principle of "throwing someone into the deep end"- but it's important to get a foundation in place that's going to support you when you need it. So, if you're expecting the newbie to "hit the ground running", be sure to plan a time in the future (on your calendar) to start doing your job as manager.

The difference between "satisfactory" and "optimal" performance is significant in terms of money in your pocket and your level of stress. Don't settle. Manage.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hate writing office processes? Try this tip to get started!

I'm big on process-izing. I suppose the correct term is systematizing. Whatever term you use, it's the notion that if there's something you do or produce regularly, it pays to create a repeatable process.

This post isn't about how to create a process, but the basic idea is:
  1. Define the "process" specifically: where it starts and ends

  2. Document needed steps, timing of steps, dependencies, resources or approvals, etc.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Top 10 Ways a Lawyer Can Mismanage Staff

Listserve question: "How can I fire this employee?" Readers were outraged at the behavior described and in post after post eagerly and sagely gave advice.  It took all day for someone to finally add that the original poster might consider taking some personal responsibility for being at the firing stage with his employee.  I've been concerned that I'm showing up too much like a preacher than a coach on this list, so I didn't comment there. Now I transfer that risk to my own blog!

With that, here's my top 10 list of ways you can mismanage your staff:

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Arizona, what I learned from the file clerk, and a couple of laughs...

I was in Tucson last week, doing a time management training seminar in a small law firm. Great stuff, but man- the time zone change wrecked me! I woke up at 3:30am the first day, it got better, but then I came home and started over again.

The week went well and the group is excited.  We planned the engagement to include all employees, from attorney to file clerk. The file clerk turned out to be surprised and excited to be included- "I never thought anyone would want my opinion" and volunteered for a clean-up project. The main work was around putting processes and scripts in place to manage interruptions so more work could be done in less time. We'll have coaching calls together over the next month to make sure the new processes are working- I'll let you know how it turns out.

The lesson learned was to keep an open mind and open door when it comes to contribution, you never know where ideas or energy will come from.

Arizona was gorgeous and when I came back, it was startling how the leaves are piling up here. One day last week, I left my client's building- the temperature was 90-ish, and the woman walking out with me commented "you can really tell it's fall!" I'm still trying to figure it out. No kidding. I promise, that's what she said.

Another moment worth sharing was an announcement made on the plane on my return flight. We were midway through boarding, the aisle was packed, people standing in line, when we heard "will the person who came on in the wheel chair please return to the front of the plane, we can't get the wheels folded"... Comic relief!

That's it- just getting back on track, hopefully passing on a smile with this one.

Have a terrifically productive rest of the week!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Plan for office vacations- Vacation Request

Have you ever had that conversation where you don't know that someone is going to be out and they swear you approved it- and they have non-refundable tickets to some exotic location with no phone or internet service?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Celebrate Aardvark Day! (& your hard-working staff)

So- today's Aardvark Day! It makes me smile every time I think of it. Why does this small animal rank a holiday of its own? Well- think of it as a day where your assignment is to enjoy yourself. Rest and restoration. Guilt-free. No email-checking allowed.