This time of year, many firm leaders are looking ahead to December 31st and asking questions like “will we meet our revenue goals,” “are our team members engaged and committed to the firm,” and “what are the next steps we should take to ensure a practice of legacy?” The list can get quite lengthy, but as leaders, we must ask ourselves where we should focus our time and attention, for not only the next few months but in the years ahead. The first step is to decide where you should be spending your deep thinking and planning time.
Firm Vision: I am sure most of you have heard the statement “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” Most would agree that knowing where you are going is crucial to leaders, but a clear vision is also vital to the team surrounding you. Consider this: if any member of your firm was asked where the firm plans to be in the next five years, what would they say? Would the answers be consistent? Would they have any idea what the vision is? If you don’t have a strong, firm-wide vision, this is a great place to start your strategic thinking process.
Strategic Planning: If your strategic plan is in your head, and not on paper, then it is most likely not focused and cannot be embraced by the rest of your team. A strategic plan is a roadmap to your goals. Goals are the leading differentiator to creating a truly successful firm. Identifying the objectives, strategies, and key performance indicators to be followed by everyone will put your firm at a tremendous advantage.
Leader Summit/Consensus: The foundation of a firm sits with the leader group. If the parents (i.e.: Partners) are not on the same page, or if they are constantly arguing, then the rest of the firm can feel uneasy. The unease often manifests as higher turnover rates, discontentment at the staff/manager level, or even missed deadlines due to lack of communication. Take a hard look at your leaders and ask if you are all rowing in the same direction. If not, don’t put off taking the time to talk out some hard issues. One thing is certain – ignoring the issues will not make them go away.
IT Review/Plan: Technology strategy is a normal and necessary strategic initiative that your firm should be keenly tuned into. Often, the leaders of the firm do not feel comfortable creating a plan that leads the firm in their technology initiatives. They may not have a technology leader (CIO) who is comfortable developing a long-term plan to drive results that connect with the firm’s strategic plan. If you do not have a clear technology vision, now is the time to correct that.
If you are intrigued and see an area of your firm that needs your attention, now is the time to get your house in order before 2017 (a mere four months away).
You might consider hiring someone to help in any of these areas, if one of the following applies:
- You would like specific expertise.
- You need guidance identifying the problems.
- You need someone to act as a catalyst for change.
- You need someone who will have an objective outlook.
- You need someone to teach new skills.
- You need someone who will be the “bad guy” when no one internally wants to make it happen.
- You need someone to breathe new life into the firm.
- You need someone to impart professional wisdom and knowledge within the firm.
Make the commitment now to schedule time - and expertise - to move forward in a proactive way. Your future could indeed be very bright; however, you might just need a little nudge move you in the right direction.