Whether your estate planning practice is a small, medium or large law firm, there’s one distinctive characteristic that can be found in every successful firm: teamwork. Of course, that teamwork is created with great hiring, training, follow-up direction, motivation and leadership. It’s the law firm owner or department manager’s job to build a group of creative and enthusiastic A-Players that work cohesively as a team.
A-Players are the employees that you can consistently rely on… the ones who take initiative and step up to the plate when something needs to be done. A-Players are also the ones who bring you new ideas and those great “out of the box” solutions. These are the employees that won’t just participate on the team… they’ll help inspire it as well.
So, how can you build a team of A-Players?
Take stock of the people you have on staff in your law firm. Ask yourself, do these people rise to the occasion? Is anyone mysteriously using sick time as they earn it or do you have employees who wrote the book on being dependable? Who are your go-to people? Who are the mediocre performers? What does each person add to your clients’ experience and impression of your practice?
In the book “Good to Great,” Jim Collins talks a great deal about having the right people on the bus, and then making sure that those people are also in the right seats. That means that your mediocre performers might actually have something great to add to your firm — they’re just not in the “seat” that fits who they are. So, before you show that person the door, maybe it’s time to look at what they are doing. Are they in the right position in your firm? Do their responsibilities match their strengths?
One of the best ways to stay on top of your team’s performance is to conduct regular employee evaluations. These evaluations can help you look at your staff with some objectivity and you’ll likely notice a few trends. Of course, this type of “hands-on” leadership isn’t the typical response. Instead, like most business owners, attorneys are much more content to wait until a problem arises before evaluating performance. But by then, something has been sacrificed within your team and you’ll lose productivity as a result — even from your treasured A-Players.
When you proactively approach managing and evaluating the performance and contribution of your team, you take a big step in building a motivated and productive group of peak players. So go ahead, manage your A-Players and more importantly, rearrange or replace those B-Players that aren’t producing at the level your team requires. It may take a little more time up front but you’ll find that over the long run, your ship will sail a much smoother course!
Chief Operating Officer
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128
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