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The Boomer Bulletin - 2011
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Make a Resolution to Be a Highly Effective Firm

Posted By Arianna Campbell, Wednesday, November 16, 2011
The year is coming to an end and this is a time to reflect on successes of the past 
year and areas of opportunity for the year ahead. Personal improvements are often the focus of New Year’s resolutions, but it is important to not overlook changes that can be made to increase productivity and profitability in your firm.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey, is filled with practical suggestions for making changes that will result in a better lifestyle. While the principles have personal applications, they are also relevant in your firm. The following habits can be implemented to achieve a higher level of effectiveness in your firm.

Habit 1: Be Proactive

"Proactive people do more than take initiative. Proactive people are agents of change.” – Stephen Covey 

Change is inevitable, and being reactive to change usually causes feelings of chaos and lack of control. When this happens in a firm it can result in decreased profitability and productivity. Taking the initiative to evaluate your firm’s dangers, opportunities and strengths (D.O.S) is an excellent way to identify areas where the firm can be proactive. This will create awareness of dangers to avoid, take advantage of opportunities, and maximize strengths. A D.O.S Form is a tool that will help define these areas in your firm. The findings can then be used to put together a plan instead of handling challenges and opportunities as they arise.

For increased proactivity, team members can complete a D.O.S assessment for their role in the firm. Knowing the collective D.O.S of the members of the firm combined with the D.O.S for the firm as a whole will give a clear guideline of how to stay ahead of the curve. This approach will allow change to be driven by the firm instead of having a firm driven by change. 

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

"Begin with the End in Mind is based on imagination – the ability to envision, see the potential, create with our minds what we cannot at present see with our eyes and conscience.” - Stephen Covey

Having clearly defined goals is an important element for being a highly effective firm. A strategic plan is essential an essential roadmap for firm success. It should include firm strategies and objectives with deadlines and responsibilities assigned. L. Gary Boomer says the following about the importance and benefits of documented strategic planning: "In order to maximize your profitability, you need a written plan detailing your firm’s strategy. This will reduce the time required, build consensus, provide consistent communications, and insure accountability.” 

Once the plan is in place it should be shared with the entire team to ensure that everyone is working towards the same goals. The plan should be reviewed throughout the year to help the firm stay on track, and adjustments should be made as needed.

Habit 3: Put First Things First

"Highly effective people do not really manage time – they manage themselves. They are planning and executing according to their highest priorities.”  - Stephen Covey

Once a strategic plan is in place and goals and responsibilities are clear, the challenge to stay on track begins. It is easy to be distracted by daily tasks and projects that may arise beyond the strategic plan. The key is to use the firms goals as a guide to prioritize and make sure that even your daily tasks are in line with the firm’s plan. 

A 90-Day Game Plan is a tool that can be used to define projects and goals for a shorter time frame. Each team member should create a Game Plan at the beginning of each quarter with goals that are in line with the strategic plan.  At the end of the quarter Game Plans should be reviewed with coaching and recognition as needed.

Habit 4: Think Win-Win

"Win-Win sees life as a cooperative arena, not a competitive one. Win-Win means agreements or solutions that are mutually beneficial and satisfying.” – Stephen Covey

A culture of cooperation instead of competition is essential to making your firm operate at the highest level. In a Win-Win environment, everyone is working together to achieve the strategic goals for the firm, and each individual’s successes contribute to the success of the firm. This requires dedication to the firm’s value system, a commitment to clear communication, and respect for each person on the team.

Habit 5: Seek first to Understand Then To Be Understood

"In order to have influcence with other people, they must first feel that you understand them. And once they feel understood, they are open to hearing your ideas, your counsel and your point of view." - Stephen Covey

Understanding your clients is an important part of being a highly effective firm. When you are working with clients with needs that are aligned with your firm’s strengths, you are likely to be more profitable and productive. In order to select the right clients, you must first understand their needs. If you ask the right questions to new and existing clients, you can maintain the good relationships and identify those that are not a good fit. 

The next step is to use what you have learned from your clients to build strategies to find and retain clients, as well as how to end relationships that are not mutually beneficial. In addition, understanding your client’s needs will help to manage both internal and external expectations and keep the firm operating at a high level.

Habit 6: Synergize

"Synergy is celebrating differences, teamwork, open-mindedness and finding new and better ways together.” – Stephen Covey

Each person in your firm has a unique ability that makes them a valuable member of the team. When people are allowed to use their talents in their job, they are more likely to enjoy their work and be high performers. No one should expect to spend all of their time working in their unique ability, but finding opportunities for team members to integrate their best skills into the job will have a positive effect on the firm.  Unique ability combined with teamwork will accelerate your firm to the next level.

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

"Just remember that every day provides a new opportunity for renewal – a new opportunity to recharge yourself instead of hitting the wall. All it takes is the desire, knowledge and skill.” – Stephen Covey

Be mindful to never stop learning.  Make sure that your firm supports and encourages a learning environment. This can be done by creating training and learning plans for everyone in the firm and for the firm as a whole. Continual learning will help to keep your firm and team members ahead of the curve.

Conclusion

When the principles listed above become habits for the firm, the level of effectiveness will increase as a result. Remember that creating new habits take time, commitment and patience but the results in firm profitability and productivity will be long lasting.

Additional Resources

Download the Guide to Strategic Planning (Free until 11/25/11. Use discount code StratPlan100

Download the Guide to Client Filtering (Free until 11/25/11. Use discount code CFGuide 100)

Download the Guide to Training & Learning (Free until 11/25/11. Use discount code TLGuide100)

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