Is your firm system dependent or people dependent? More importantly, do you know why it matters?
A people-dependent firm relies solely on the skills and talents of the people performing the jobs in question. They may or may not have the tools and technology they need to do the job efficiently but that doesn’t really matter – what matters is that they’re dedicated to getting the job done.
Now, on the surface, that doesn’t sound too bad, does it? After all, you want a dedicated staff… you want to fill your office with talented personnel who take pride in what they do. Succeed in that task and it makes sense to place the success of your business in their hands.
Well, let’s consider the alternative.
A system-dependent firm establishes guidelines and procedures for every task in your office. That means that there’s a system for reviewing performance and a system for answering the phone. There’s systems in place that ensure proper cross-training and other systems for delegating all non-lawyer work.
Now, these systems still require you hire the best people possible – in fact, in a system-dependent firm, you have a process to ensure that the every employee is matched with the right job… not because it’s the one they applied for but because it’s the best fit with their skills and talents.
The difference in a system-dependent firm is that when your receptionist quits or takes a leave of absence, you know exactly how the telephone system works. When your paralegal decides to move out of state, you’re not left trying to figure out his filing system. And when your secretary calls in sick, you’re still able to produce quality documents in her absence.
Your time is spent managing the firm and doing lawerly kinds of work rather than ordering stationery and making copies. And because your staff has been strategically matched with an appropriate position, they’re busy enjoying a challenging and rewarding career.
The reason you can do all this is because there’s a system in place that tells you how. That system ensures that your staff are cross-trained and can step into other positions when needed to take up the slack. It ensures that you’re not spending your valuable time making coffee and ordering supplies because all of that non-lawyer work has been effectively delegated.
So, let me ask you again: does your firm depend on your people or the systems they work with? And which do you suppose has the best chance of success?
President & Co-Founder
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
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