Most law firm owners find themselves subconsciously mired in bad habits. The best ones work aggressively to change themselves over time, but let’s face facts: changing yourself on a fundamental level is hard, even if you want to remodel how you think and operate badly. And when change does happen, progress tends to be surprisingly incremental and glacial.
At the same time, you recognize that you need to change how you operate. It’s imperative. To succeed, your firm needs you to do certain new things… and stop doing certain entrenched behaviors. So how can you get out of your own way to build the firm of your dreams?
In the past, we’ve explored the theme of “inspect what you expect” – that is, you want to engage in the following two managerial activities:
- Create a concrete vision for what you hope to accomplish that can be measured in some objective fashion.
- Keep tabs on your designated metric(s) and use the measurements to improve performance over time.
To be a strong manager, you need to have the courage to apply this same discipline to your own habits and behaviors. Here’s a process to try:
- Pick a goal for your law firm. Do you want to:
- Increase profit?
- Branch out into a new practice area?
- Target new clients?
- Develop relationships with existing clients?
- Implement a new marketing strategy?
- Train employees on better software program?
- Pick an appropriate metric to help you track progress and define success.
- Brainstorm how you might be able to reach that goal without changing anything about yourself or how you work. Ask yourself questions like:
- What systems might I need to put in place?
- Who could help keep me on track?
- What bad habits might get in the way, and how can I circumvent them and still get to my goal?
- How have I crashed and burned on previous projects in the past? Why? What can I do to avoid a similar fate this time?
- Execute this plan and “inspect what you expect.”
Do a postmortem analysis. Did this exercise help you? Were you able to get out of your own way to accomplish what your law firm needed from you? If not, why not?
There’s a broader point to understand here. By paying attention not only to what you accomplish but also to how you accomplish it, you can incrementally improve how you operate and thus become a more strategic entrepreneur and a confident law firm owner.