By Molly Hall (shared with permission from all parties involved)
I remember the defining moment of truth when I realized I was slipping into the Yes Chick zone.
We’d hired a marketing company that we paid a big (no, huge) monthly retainer for 12 months to take the company to the next level. We were a small company of three and I served as the Marketing Department/Member Services/Coaching Department…you get the idea. I was naturally responsible for managing the marketing company. We hired them for their reputation in the marketplace and for their track record of taking like-minded organizations to the next level. My role was to manage, direct, and lead them in the company’s new direction, meet deadlines and so forth. Here is what happened instead.
Month Two: The president of the marketing company called me and said, “We can’t work with your boss. He is steamrolling my team and they refuse to get on another marketing call with him. We prefer to only deal with you because you get the job done and you’re a focused pit bull.”
Month Seven: After spending a tremendous amount of time on a major website project, the boss decides the work we’ve done is worthless and we need to go in a different direction. Note: The boss never had time to look at the website and “delegated” the entire project to me because he “trusted” me. (Visit our website for “Why You Should Never Use THE ‘D’ Word” blog or refer Chapter 4 of Don’t Be a Yes Chick!)
During a weekly marketing meeting, back when I was a Yes Chick, he decided that we were going to “talk website” because the buddy he had breakfast with told him the five “musts” of every website. On fire from that breakfast meeting, he pulls up our website five minutes before our meeting and wanted to change seven months of work. He was so motivated he declares “This project is priority number one. In fact, let’s hop on a plane and get Molly and me in a room for two days with the web team and get it done. If we don’t, we’re dead in the water.”
We were all deflated, but hell; we could rise above and do it. If he is this passionate about the website and what he has learned, I’m in. I got on the plane. The marketing firm prepared for our arrival and put three full-time employees in a conference room with us for two days. Everyone was ready to put this project that we had worked on for so long and hard to bed. Two days, slam dunk–it will be done!
Day One: We met with the web team. My boss began the meeting with a brief “history” of the company. He took them through three hours of technical-legal mumbo jumbo that clearly no one understood (nor cared about). Their eyes glazed over and they nodded their heads, saying, “Wow that is interesting.” Then he went on and on about vision, mission, and standards-never once going through the website page by page. We walked out with our heads spinning. We had no clear direction. It had been a complete waste of time.
Day Two: The web team didn’t even show up. He had annoyed them so much that the owner of the company asked them to not even go in because it would be another day of the same thing. So, here we are, the boss and me, in a city away from office and home, sitting there alone. So, the boss and I started talking numbers, recreating an annual budget and bonus structure that we have created two times before but still hadn’t implemented. We then moved to the “future direction of the company” conversation; you know that one that entrepreneurs like to have spontaneously when they want to get out of actually doing the task at hand.
At 9 a.m., I realized I had to catch my plane in five hours. At that point, I said to myself, “I will sit here and nod, then quit when I get home.” Then I had an epiphany. I realized that I was just as responsible for this conversation and the direction of my future as he was. Seriously, I had heard people speak of those “light bulbs” going off, but I’d never gotten it. But I got it then.
Immediately, I stopped him dead in his tracks and requested a time-out. In that moment, I chose to abandon Plan A–an unprofessional hissy fit that would include two or three “F bombs” and a bucketful of tears. That would be the “old,” non-confrontational Molly in rare form. Instead, I chose to dig deeper into my toolbox. I announced, “We need to stop, conduct an Aggravation Auger, and talk about what is not working, not only in this conversation, but for me in my professional role.”
What came out of that conversation without question changed my life. We had an honest, respectful discussion that fused our adult, professional relationship closer, and I won a deep respect from my boss because of who I chose to be in that moment. He also appreciated that I would help him see his blind spots and not allow him to show up in disarray or not hold him accountable. Since that day, December 8, 2009, we have worked efficiently and effectively together.
What came out of our meeting became known as our House Rules of Engagement. If you would like a copy contact us a www.yeschick.com.
Every year we visit the same conferences and run into some of our favorite attorneys. We inevitably are greeted in the same manner, “Ahhh, you won’t believe what the new girl I hired did…she is driving me crazy…” or “I have a new assistant, and, well, she is good, but something is missing…how do I train my gal to be a “Laney” or a “Molly”? It really is quite simple.
We never accept an offer to ‘coach’ someone loosely and we don’t take our role in it lightly. We see a lot of potential and talent, everyday. We talk with employees (team) that have what it takes – purposeful, powerful personality that allows them to impact other people in a very positive, empowering way. However, to truly get to ‘that place’ it takes skilled training in the ability to put themselves in someone else’s perspective (you, your clients, your referral sources), 100% of the time.
The truth is, everyone wants to do what they love, make a difference and go home at night without a head full of wonder and worry. Team members often feel like there is something “wrong” with them even though they have a “jump in and get it done” attitude. And truly, 90% of the time there isn’t anything wrong with the employee. They just haven’t been given the dedicated training on techniques to eliminate the mental turmoil they find themselves going through when working for an entrepreneur. We’ve been trained as employees by our past jobs, but in a small, boutique business, the Employee Mentality does not serve anyone. The traditional employee mentality is filled with headaches, drama, HR nightmares, score keeping and an us-against-the-boss state of mind.
On the other side, the boss is always wishing for someone to “fix” their employee. The employee is wishing for someone to “help” them. All that is truly needed is an awareness of what your mind is doing and how to step out of it. And trust us, we are only speaking from a place of having “been there, done that”. There still isn’t a week that goes by that we don’t find ourselves going down a mental tunnel where there is nothing for but ‘stories’ and ‘stuff’ about our job. The only way out of that dark, toxic place is the skill set to immediately correct your thinking and path.
We can honestly say having the tools to do an immediate Pattern Break eradicates the mental questioning, worrying and unnecessary stress (for everyone). It is so freeing when you “get it” and can start to really enjoy your job, life and people. However, it is a process, which is well worth the investment. It provides the confidence to have an amazing life and career. Not a perfect life, not one where you don’t get scared or frustrated, but one where you can control how long you allow those emotions to run your day and your future. A life where you can quickly move those emotions out of the way and get on to what’s important – making a difference and truly enjoying life.
You probably already have someone in your office that is a force to be reckoned with (a very positive attribute) but they cannot strip away the conditioned drama and crisis. This is from years of conditioned, on the job training that this is how you are heard in the work place. And if you aren’t stressed and busy, and complaining about it, you aren’t very important. There isn’t room in this blog to share the techniques to allow a team member to break from this role and step into one of accountability and ownership. But hopefully, we’ve raised your awareness that you there are certain ingredients you look for when you hire someone and there is specific training they need to go from good to great.
Our absolute commitment in this world is to empower team to let go of years of conditioning and “learning” from their past work experiences and step into a world of ownership, growth and joy! If you want to finally empower your team to take control of their future we would enjoy supporting you with the astounding difference we know your team can make in your practice and the world of your clients.
And the Coffee was Gone – Are you tolerating good enough?
We (Molly and Laney) are blessed to experience the absolute joy in our job of constant interaction with people that work in law firms across the country. We get to live our Primary Aim in life – making a difference for others in a way that makes positive impact and leaves them empowered, everyday. However, with every experience we acquire a bird’s eye view of the despondency of people. We see how many people in the world flee when they are confronted with the brutal reality of their lack of integrity and inauthentic mode of operation.
For example, take the law firm in Manhattan, NY that we have been coaching for the past 6 months on how to get each team member crystal clear on his or her role and goals within the firm. In January they added a new team member that we were supporting with a customized 90-Day step-by-step training process (as opposed to the usual ‘sink or swim’ model). We had a 30 day call scheduled to check in scheduled and we were armed with the tools to support her with the customary “bumps in the road” of a new job. The attorney started the call out with “Molly meet Kathy, Kathy meet Molly.”
“Excuse me???”, I say. “What happened to Lilly?”
Attorney, “Lilly is no longer with us.” The attorney proceeded to explain that after 2 days of employment he came into the office at 9a.m. (her day was to start at 8:30) and she wasn’t there. When she had not arrived by 10a.m. the receptionist called to make certain she was safe, she didn’t pick up. Called at 11… still no answer. It wasn’t until the attorney went into the kitchen and noticed the big can of Folgers coffee and her fancy Starbucks mug she brought in on DAY TWO to “make herself at home” was gone. The coffee was gone… that was her only form of resignation.
Sadly enough, this is not an isolated incident. Let’s talk about the solo practioner with 2 employees in Walnut Creek, CA. After 3 months of working with a “veteran” employee we told the attorney he had to let this LEAD team member go because she was lacking integrity and had an enormous commitment to being right that would harm the growth of his business in numerous ways, even cost him existing clients. Without skipping a beat the attorney counters with, “I don’t know….when she’s good, she’s good and that’s about 70% of the time. I’ll take good enough vs. having to go through the hiring process again.” One ominous Friday afternoon, after a “productive” 90 minute marketing meeting with this employee that included the creation of a 90-day Marketing Strategy for implementation he got an email at 4:30. “I quit.” Just like that. And he was “devastated.”
When is good enough acceptable? When are we finally going to adopt “intuition as initiation” and stop the toleration of good enough? Would your clients let YOU get away with good enough? Heck NO! You are constantly under the microscope.
That same attorney from CA told Molly on their next coaching call, just 8 days after the “good enough” employee was gone, that the hidden client complaints, undelivered promises and stashed (uncashed) checks over 13 months old found in files has left him paralyzed and speechless. He simply didn’t know where to start to rebuild.
Our lifetime mentor taught us there are only two kinds of suffering, long term and short term. The determining factor in which route you take is your courage to take responsibility for what is occurring around you and stop placing blame, as blame is merely a hideout for not having to face what is not working in your life.
If you KNOW an employee is not approaching their work with a deep rooted ownership and leadership, choose the short term route. End the suffering.
It is one thing to train a team member, help them solve a problem, or provide counsel. It’s a totally separate and not advisable; to convince them they want to be on your team. Trying to motivate, encourage learning and finding ways to grow while trying to make a temperamental team member happy; or a negative team member see the positive will simply waste your time and emotional energy.
Running around managing and motivating your team allows you to become their emotional crutch. They will lean on you for inspiration, and when you can’t provide it, they will quit and leave. And when they leave, they leave you with a team of others who you may have neglected who now see they get more attention and allowance with negative and non-productive energy. You can reinforce a bad example.
If you are providing a positive work environment with opportunity for team to learn and grow, you won’t have to motivate and convince them to work with you, at least not if they come “batteries included”. The work environment and the opportunity in front of them are self fulfilling and self motivating. It’s your job to provide leadership (what direction should they be working towards, a common goal).
Pep talks only work for so long. Presenting a problem with a proposed solution rids you, and your team, of its negative impact and the reoccurrence of hand holding. And creates and nourishes leaders.
So it really boils down to one of 2 things; are you tolerating “good enough” or is there a leadership and coaching element to your practice that is missing? Either way, the revolving door will continue to spin if you don’t figure out which of the two is your management approach.
If you are unsure if you are managing or leading, ask yourself – do people come to you to complain so you can provide the pep talk, pat them on the back and send them back to work? Only to repeat the cycle every 30 days. Or do people come to you with a problem and a proposed solution? If it’s the former, this is an indicator that there is a fundamental flaw in your Initial Training Process.
AND if you have found that you might have a “good enough” employee on your team, or even worse, a “black hole”, contact us on how to obtain The 7 Step Test for Termination™ showing you how to come to the resolution of firing with the least amount of suffering while keeping your integrity, compassion and sanity. Stop anguishing over (i.e. suffering long term) whether to fire a “good enough” employee.
Previously, we discussed how to think of your team like building a Dream Team, with limited amounts of resources (time and money) available to draft your dream team players. Use it wisely; use it for “great”, not “good enough”. And remember as long as you are employing that “good enough” employee, you might be missing the chance to hire that “great” one!
One of the biggest buzz words in our industry, or any industry for that matter, is “delegate“. In today’s world it’s all about efficiency, effectiveness and getting rid of that which doesn’t serve you any longer. Bravo, Bravo! We are not only in total support but constantly on the soapbox to get attorneys to STOP working on their non-revenue producing activities. All the rage in the past decade, side by side with the terminology of “Entrepreneur”, has been about “delegation“. Conduct a Google search and quite promptly you will receive roughly 28,500,000 useful tips, techniques and worksheets on effective delegation.
According to Wikipedia; Delegation (also called deputation) is the assignment of authority and responsibility to another person (normally from a manager to a subordinate) to carry out specific activities. We invite you to sit with that for a moment; “Manager to a SUBORDINATE”.
Now that is empowering and inspiring for the “subordinate”, huh? Just the definition alone has so many underlying demeaning tones; assignment, authority, responsibility but no authority, manager, subordinate….the bottom-line, this does not show up as an opportunity for team. Over the past 12 years we have worked with over 300 firms. When we conduct our Intake Interview with the support team (staff) the very first question we ask is “What role do you serve in the firm”, 90% of the time the response is fired back with “whatever needs to get dumped on me that day.” You speak “delegate” they hear “dumped on me“.
Today, we are inviting you to speak in an empowering language with you team and see how quickly you achieve the results you want. It’s easy, it just requires you speak the same language as your team. We’re not splitting hairs, rather merely noting there is no empowerment, enrollment or ownership in the language of “delegation“. If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it 300+ times. Delegation shows up like “dumped on me” to those on the receiving end. So maybe try on an empowering possibility. Imagine, you FINALLY decide you are ready to “give up” trust drafting (word processing) to your client services coordinator. Option one is to tell her that you are “delegating” trust drafting to her because you need more time to market and meet with new clients. While true, this lands like what you have to do is “more important” so you are “dumping” the least desirable task on her. It doesn’t show that you think she is smart, capable and up to the task, just that you need somewhere to dump a task to free up your time and she’s it. Instead, try option two. Talk to her about her new “opportunity” – learning and managing the trust drafting in your office. Rather than how new tasks are usually “delegated”… you scurry out of the office to a synergy meeting and on your way place the design templates on her desk and inform her you are now “turning” drafting over to her. Instead imagine this, you invite your team member to sit through every meeting involved in the client Estate Planning process; vision, design and signing. You then debrief with her and check in on what showed up for her during those meetings and if she saw the difference your firm made in the life’s of America’s aging population. Then proceed to talk about the powerful process of making sure all the family’s “stuff” is protected and how important their documents are to ensure everything is protected. You then move into a conversation about the art of drafting and bring up your document creation software and how the software exactly matches your trusty design templates. Now she can see how the documents she drafts plays a huge part in the difference your firm makes for clients. It’s not just paperwork or data entry now…..you see the difference? Delegation vs. empower. It’s the same amount of work on your part either way, but one produces results. And I think we all know oh too well where delegation leads us, to a place of “I can’t get my employees to do what I need them to do.”
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a complimentary copy of “The 8 Keys to Empowerment” Workbook and start empowering your team today.
“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it”. Theodore Roosevelt
In our last blog, we talked about the blessing and curse of being a leader. We discussed how necessary leadership is to any growing company, and how it can be overwhelming for a leader to balance the needs of their team and their own. Let us share the first of several simple strategies to provide leadership for your team, in a leveraged, structured manner. These strategies produce results, while allowing you to maintain a balance between the demands of your team and your own needs.
Always Lead by Example
This is cliché, so cliché it’s overlooked in every single company we have worked with. It’s fundamentally simple. If you are late to meetings, so will your team. If you listen to hearsay, so does your team. If you don’t complete projects on time, neither will they. If you don’t come to meetings prepared, don’t be surprised when your team schedules over them. Be very aware – as this rarely shows up to yourself as obvious or “no duh”. You’re a professional and your intent clearly is not to declare, “Oh to heck with it, I’ll just wing it.” Instead you have a client emergency that morning, show up to the team meeting five minutes late out of breath, unprepared and frustrated that your team isn’t already in the thick of The Monday Morning Strategy Experience™. Think about it – if you allow client emergencies to happen on Monday morning and fashion havoc on your team meeting, then make certain to carve out time at the end of your day to prepare on Friday. Emergencies happen. Don’t cut your preparation time so close to the meeting that one emergency can blow your day. Whenever there are habits or a culture in your team you don’t like, look to how you may have given permission for this to happen and become the new standard. Just take a moment and look that you may have opened the door for the perception that the team now has a really valid reason for being late and unprepared. If you don’t stop and evaluate your behaviors, your team will not only repeat the same mistakes but it will quickly become the “norm”.
We know you may be thinking, “This is silly…I already know this”. Chances are you probably do. But can see you see it and rectify it within your own team? We encourage you to just pay attention over the next few weeks to situations or team’s actions that irritate or disappoint you. Just check in and see if there was any example you may have unintentionally set or allowed other team members to set. Again, the purpose isn’t to blame yourself or others, it’s simply to recognize the cause and effect of behavior. Try intentionally leading by example in a certain area that is really bugging you. You might not see results the first time, but keep at it, and soon enough quality team will rise to the standard you set. This is a simple, but devastatingly effective, way to provide leadership that produces positive results.
Stay tuned for our next blog, where we will continue to share strategies to lead in a leveraged manner.
Nurturing and growing your team is a never-ending process. And if it does end, you’re in trouble, because it means that your team is no longer growing. That’s the beginning of stagnation. Like sitting water, your team doesn’t just stop growing and stay in place; they start to rot and eat away at all the standards, training, and culture that you’ve built. If a team isn’t motivated by growth, they’ll focus on other things that are negative and unproductive. A team that doesn’t have goals becomes wrought with gossip, cattiness, blame, and complaining; hence, your work as your team’s leader is never done. You can either devote time to leading your team, or spend time reprimanding them. The choice is yours. We don’t know about you, but we have very little patience for reprimanding!
Why is being a leader so important?
To be blunt, team members who aren’t in a growth-oriented workplace with good leadership won’t be around for long. In that environment a good team will be unfulfilled and talented members will move on to other places that provide leadership and growth. The rest of the group will become infected with a spirit of gossip and negativity that has the potential to become so infectious throughout the office that you’ll end up firing those individuals. Look at it from a purely selfish perspective – after all the time you’ve spent hiring and training do you really want to start all over? Which do you think would be a better use of time – helping a great team member continually find ways to grow, or starting all over interviewing, hiring, firing, and training every quarter?
Why is it my job to lead the team?
Everyone isn’t a leader. If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you are a leader or well on your way to becoming one. The role is both a blessing and a curse. The curse is that you can’t stop being the leader that you are, even though there’ll be times in your career when you temporarily stop leading. Maybe you’ll be mentally exhausted, or in an atmosphere that doesn’t allow your leadership abilities to flourish; regardless, while you may choose to stop leading others for a period you can’t ever stop being a leader anymore than you can stop being a mom or dad, the glue for your family, or a community advocate.
Don’t curse your gift as a leader. Cursing your gift can show up as:
“Why does everyone come to me, I have enough on my plate?” or
“I’m tired of everyone leaning on me!” or
“Is it me, or is everyone else either an idiot or just doesn’t care?” (Boy, have I said those things in the workplace!)
You can’t run away from your talents and responsibilities as a leader, even if you try, it won’t fix your problem, or make you happier. There have been many times that we’ve all wanted to quit our jobs or shut down our practices in order to get an easy and “stress free” job where we could show up, do the work well, and go home. We long for a job where we wouldn’t have to solve other people’s problems, or take stress home, but, alas a leopard can’t change its spots. You would not be fulfilled in a job such as this. You can either embrace the leader who you are, or find yourself constantly feeling unfulfilled.
If you’re a true leader, you’re a beacon in the night. No matter your role, you will draw people to listen to you because you ask the tough questions; in other words, you’ll motivate and lead. Others will be drawn to your innate ability to provide calmness and direction in the storm. If you’re really honest with yourself, you probably aren’t happy when you’re not leading. We’re not saying that you have to be a 1-800 help line, or wake up at 2 A.M. stressing over things at work, but when leaders aren’t in a position to lead, they’re like a flower without sunlight. They’ll wilt, their colors will fade and their vitality that always shone brightly will waste away.
So, since you can’t rid yourself of this incessant need to lead, why not simply embrace it? Remember, it’s not only a curse, but a blessing, as well. Very few people have the gift to inspire others. You can. Look at the difference you make in other people’s lives. For example, take a single mother who you’re helping build a career. You aren’t just helping her; you’re making a difference in her children’s lives too. Few people can provide calmness and confidence in times of change or uncertainty. You can. Remember all the people who you’ve helped keep the faith and not lose direction. Few people have the ability to truly make a lasting, positive impression on other’s lives. You do. Your ability to lead is a blessing. It only becomes a curse when you can’t balance the dependency of others with your own needs.
In our next few blogs, we will share strategies to provide leadership for your team, in a leveraged, structured manner. This will allow you to produce results, while protecting your own time and focus. Be sure to sign up to receive our blog so you don’t miss the next installment.
To see if you are running your office, or if your office is running you, click here to take our free Assessment.
You are waiting on a return call from a $10M client and your receptionist sticks them into voicemail. Or your urgent FedEx package gets put in your Inbox where you don’t notice it until the next day. How many times has something like this happened? Why is it seemingly so difficult to have consistency and intelligence around simple office procedures?
Training a team member on answering the phone is usually approached as a task to be completed as quickly as possible and checked off the list so the trainer can return to their work. As soon as the new person can speak relatively coherently, remember the names of your team members and learn where to find the hold button on the phone system, they are left to field calls and “yell if they have a question”.
Considering that the person answering the phone is the first, often unchangeable impression, a new client has of your firm, this is scary. From someone who calls A LOT of law firms across the country, I’ll tell you – it’s frightening!
The #1 job of every person in your firm is to “connect” with people hiring (or considering) hiring you. The first twenty seconds of every first interaction with your firm needs to communicate kindness, compassion, fun and warmth. The training process and the world of business is “serious” and “professional” but if you are interacting with training in a very analytical, task-oriented way that will be communicated to every person that interacts with your firm. It is greatly impacting your bottom-line. Trust us. Are you training the receptionist how to push buttons on your phone system or how to connect with potential clients who call? People are hiring you for your ability to counsel, relate and “hear” them, not for documents. No role/job is about the documents, portfolios or funding; it is about the ability to be human and be present. Remember, you are in the Personal Services Business. Have fun and that alone will distinguish you in the marketplace (and the growth of your firm)!
Phone Training Success Strategies:
1. Don’t rush it. Every incoming phone call is a training opportunity. It’s easy to get so busy that you just take a call and handle it, rather stopping and explaining it and training someone else how to handle it. Not only does this never allow your workload to decrease, but it isn’t very empowering for the new person to just be a switchboard operator. Let them learn how to handle phone calls and contribute to your firm.
2. Create and use phone scripts. If you don’t have scripts on how to handle the most common types of phone calls your firm receives, it’s a great time to create them. You don’t have to make a project out of it. It simply takes 15 minutes and a little bit of focus. Sit with your new “Director of First Impressions” and review the three most common calls coming into the firm. Ask yourself “what questions can she ask to really drill down on what the caller needs and how she can assist them” and together brainstorm the best responses. Make sure you verify that she heard and actually understood what you are saying…versus just taking notes. This provides consistency of how questions and incoming calls are handled. There is nothing worse than that feeling when you walk by the receptionist and cringe at how they just answered someone’s inquiry. I literally had prospective client call in once and ask “Does your firm do Medicaid planning?” and our receptionist replied “Hmm…. I think our attorneys just went to a training program on that.” Ouch! Not what we wanted to convey to prospective clients.
3. Clarify your position on voicemail versus taking a message. Different firms have different preferences. Make it a consistent rule and crystal clear for your team what the protocol is. A lot of attorneys get annoyed when the receptionist sends all their calls to voicemail and they have eight messages at the end of the day. However, someone else on the team may prefer voicemail and be communicating that to the receptionist as the overall preference. Discuss it, decide what is best for your firm, then convey it clearly and have it written down as part of your phone procedures systems. A word of caution, in this day and age people are so sick and tired of being transferred to India and halfway across the globe that you run a BIG risk of them hanging up before the transfer is complete. And with attorneys…they are notorious for “dodging” calls. So be the firm that “is” different than the thirty other firms in your marketplace.
4. Use Call Logs. Call logs serve as intake sheets for certain incoming calls. It provides consistency and makes sure all the correct questions are asked. It can serve as a decision tree for the receptionist to know what to do with the call next, based on the information collected. A call log should always end with the question “Is there anything else I can do for you right now?” This alone will make your firm stand out as one of helpfulness and accessibility, versus one who stuck you immediately into voicemail.
5. Implement Call Back Time. Each attorney and team members who receive a high volume of incoming phone calls should have a designated time each day to return phone calls. This allows the receptionist to set the expectation with the client that “Mr. Smith will return your call between 4 and 5 today – what number can you be reached at during that time?” Clients appreciate knowing when they will receive a call back. The receptionist can create a Call Back List of names and phone numbers throughout the day to hand the attorney for their call back time. (For a free Call Back List template email email@example.com.)
6. Define your protocol for interrupting others. Decide on what constitutes an “emergency phone call” and warrants a meeting being interrupted. Don’t make your new receptionist who has been there for a week decide what an emergency is and what is not. Put your protocol in writing and add to your phone procedures systems.
7. Create a binder of all upcoming firm related events and information. Your receptionist should be aware of and have at their fingertips information on all upcoming workshops, etc. They need to be able to answer questions about location, timing, etc. rather than taking a message for someone else to call back. Every time you have to return a phone call you increase the possibility of losing the interest of the caller.
8. Train on your culture and value, not just what buttons to push on the phone. Your receptionist is speaking to your clients; therefore they need to know what clients hire you for and the culture of your firm. This allows them to speak in a similar tonality. Your receptionist should read every written piece of literature your firm has – brochures, website, client welcome letters, etc. It always surprises me how many people work for a company and haven’t read their marketing material. Clients read it – it’s what they hire you for – your team should read it too! Have them highlight key words that you use and explain to them what it means, in the context of your firm. For example, if you use ‘trusted advisor’, ‘value-based planning’ or ‘protection planning’ explain what this means.
9. Have your new “Director of First Impressions” be accountable for capturing the systems. They may not be able to create these phone technique systems, but they can be the one to put pen to paper and capture each instruction and decision. During their down time, when the phone isn’t ringing, they can type them up and organize into a system.
Don’t underestimate the intentionality and time it takes to complete phone training. We all take phones/the role of “receptionist” for granted. This is the single best training tool for any team member. Trust the process and invest the time and patience into it now. It will produce powerful results by creating the right impression for your clients and referral sources.
For help with hiring, systems and training – contact us today.
There are many techniques to hiring, training and developing team, some of which we will cover later in this blog. But no matter how many people are on your team – if it’s just three of you or 100 of you – there is one key to hiring that is an absolute and can never be ignored.
When dealing with people, and team members are people, it’s hard to deal in absolutes. Sometimes people defy the rules or the expectations, but this one is a definite. The key is hiring 100% of the time based on integrity.
Webster’s Dictionary Definition of Integrity: A firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values
Our Definition of Integrity: Do what you say you are going to do, when you say you are going to do it with a 100% authentic stand -every step of the way.
Integrity is one of the most crucial yet mind boggling of terms. Integrity is an ‘airy fairy’ term rarely understood. To give you perspective, it is sometimes used at the same time with “moral”, but it is separate and distinct. Let us help clear up the distinction and more so, share why it matters in the hiring process!
If a team member doesn’t have integrity it doesn’t matter how talented they are, how good they are at what they do, how many hours they work or anything else you normally judge performance on, they are not a fit for your team. Not only will they eventually not work out, but they will poison your team and you will lose good team members along with them. Or worse yet, team members who are out of integrity will stay and continue to be a communicable disease to every client and new team member that walks through your door. Don’t continue to allow a poisonous apple to take root in your workplace.
If your gut is saying “something doesn’t feel right in the belly”, don’t even bother hiring them. Integrity is not trainable, you have it or you don’t. You can’t pay for it, work harder for it or teach it – it’s there or it isn’t.
Let Molly put this into perspective for you with a real life example…
Amy passed every interview, Kolbe matching and reference check with flying colors. Less than five days into the job, red flags were popping up everywhere. Here is one simple illustration – and you don’t need much more than this. This is more than enough evidence of lack of integrity. It started off with her first business trip on the proverbial company dime where her room service bill was $65.00… for one person, for one dinner. Let me paint the picture, this was a single mom of two teenage boys who were getting ready to head off to college, on public assistance and her annual salary was $19,000. This was not a CEO making six figures. This was a person with the entitlement mentality that she was going to get fat (literally with a $65 meal!!!) off the company hog. Lack of integrity. It doesn’t need to be more complicated than that friends.
Keys of Integrity
Integrity is a tricky thing. Sometimes the people with the least seem to have the most talent, charm and charisma. Talent, ability and knowledge is not enough. In fact, these should be the last ingredients added to the mix. Don’t be fooled into thinking you can work around lack of integrity. Hiring a team member with no integrity is the biggest mistake you can make.
Integrity IS…when these might show up in the workplace:
• Doing the right thing when nobody is watching
• Taking a complaint to someone who can do something about it
• Refraining from gossip & when a co-worker has a complaint they say “how can I help you with this? vs. going along for the gossip ride and creating a truth that the “workplace sucks”
• Their “weekend” life is totally in line w/their “weekday” life (when you have integrity you have it everywhere in your life)
NO Integrity is … when these things show up in the workplace:
• Talking of cheating on a spouse/partner, shopping till they drop when they say they don’t make enough money, slamming friends, neighbors and ex-coworkers
• Starting conversations with “don’t tell anybody, but…” or “you didn’t hear it from me…”. If you say it out loud, it will and should be expected that it will be repeated.
Declaring Integrity As a Must Exercise:
As a team leader, get everyone involved and develop a set of core values for you as a team to live by. Have each team member define the core values that are important to them. Then everyone convene (we always recommend over coffee and food) and declare what your team as a whole will stand for, operate by and expect every employee/team member to live by.
Some examples: respect for others (we treat others how we wish to be treated), commitment to family (we put our families first and support everyone in putting their families first), community contribution, spiritual guidance and growth (we contribute to our community by sponsoring a local charity each year/do the breast cancer walk/work in a soup kitchen at Thanksgiving, etc. that will contribute to an environment of peace that will greatly impact our clients and our lives.)
These core values can be used to assess new team members as well evaluate existing team during team reviews. Think about framing your list of core values so your clients, referral sources and even vendors know what is important to you as a “family and community based business” and why we do what we do for you. Not only are you creating a place of peace and possibility but a beautiful, deliberate by-product of increased referrals. Who would read those core values and NOT want to refer their friends and family to you?
Creating core values is one small way to begin to get you and your team on the same page. To learn the fundamentals to the Attorney & Team Mindset Necessary to Create an Extraordinary Practice, register now for our Webinar, November 5th from 4-5pm EST. Limited Space! Register Now!