I was recently working with a firm under our new "Come to Nashville" program for a day and we were doing long-term planning, mainly, but with an eye on how that might impact the short term. I came up with some questions that turned out to be very helpful as they took a break from the continuous crazy days we all have, and then answered them honestly and seriously.
I'm sharing these because I think you might find it useful to step out of that same hectic stream, stand on the shore, and answer these for yourself. If your firm has more than one principal (or leader or manager), it's critical that you each answer these separately before you compare answers. Just the differences in your answers will yield great discussions:
- What would the ideal size for your firm be, expressed as a FTE (full-time equivalent) number?
- List at least five reasons why that size seems appropriate for you? Don't forget to address management load, financial risk, etc.
- What specific stronger capabilities would that size bring, and is it important to clients that you have those capabilities internally? Or is it driven more because you want to have them?
- What current and future capabilities at your firm could be outsourced to regular, trusted partners? When you look at your track record in doing this, what factors seem to have been present in the success stories?
- How do you feel about the current positioning of your firm? If you could waive a magic wand and change it (without regard to current employees or clients), what would your positioning be?
- What are your biggest fears in just pursuing that positioning, even if it means doing so alongside your current firm and maybe even doing it all alone without employees?
- If I watched you on a typical day, would it look like you are taking care of clients or would it look like you were taking care of employees (who would then take care of clients if you did your job well)?
- To what degree, on a scale of 1-7 (7 being the highest), are you satisfied personally with the financial results that flow back to you from your contribution to the firm, especially given the financial risk, personal investment of your life, and sustainability of the firm without your hourly input?
- To what extent, on a scale of 1-7 (7 being the highest), do you think you are a capable and respected manager of people?
- Where do you feel like your leadership skills are not as strong, requiring perhaps time, training, or sharing those duties with someone else?
- What three steps would you put in place to address those areas where you could use some additional leadership help or honing?
- Based on your goals for the future, what personnel areas are weakest at your firm, either because the wrong person(s) are there, or the positions aren't filled at all?
- Who are the two weakest employee links who probably should be dismissed in the near future?
- Who is the most talented person at your firm who is disruptive to the culture? Are they on the list, above, of people to dismiss?
- Assuming that you have hired the right person for a significant role at your firm, about how many weeks should pass before that person is contributing at nearly full speed?
- What are the three or four most pressing issues at your firm that might prevent you from meeting the goals and aspirations you've listed above? In other words, what do you most want out of your engagement with ReCourses?
- You likely started this firm to create an environment for yourself that allowed for more freedom, control, and money. Now that you have built it, to what degree are these three things true?
Nothing makes me happier in the business world than hearing from a client that they are shaping their firm with specific intentions rather than the other way around. Too often we "let growth happen" to us, or momentum sets in and our personal goals are put on "pause" until we wake up one day…and then several days in a row…realizing that we are just feeding the machine.
It is your firm, and it's current state is a reflection of the choices that you have made. Fix them! And I mean that in a very kind way.