The growing pains experienced at law firms don’t usually get self-diagnosed as such.
Instead, they tend to be described in terms of the series of symptoms that happen to be manifesting, often at the same time.
- Without a parallel increase in billings, the lawyers, the staff and the law clerks, all appear to be more frenzied than normal.
- Individuals that used to work well together are, not infrequently, encountering ‘broken telephone’.
- A, not insignificant, percentage of work is being done by the wrong level or position.
- Tasks that used to be streamlined are starting to fall through the cracks.
- People are no longer feeling connected to the firm vision.
- Politics are, on occasion, becoming a distraction.
- Motivation is dropping.
It matters that, at the root, these complaints are all signs of growing pains.
A correct diagnosis would provide you with the opportunity to generate insight about appropriate solutions, rather than applying a series of band aids which could actually make things worse.
To illustrate the point, if you’re not viewing growing pains as a systemic issue, you might be concerned about the performance of specific individuals and begin appropriate measures to address that. If, instead, the problem was treated at the root level, with process improvements, structure adjustments and formal job descriptions, everyone would be part of the solution.
A very different approach.
So, for today’s tip, if you start to notice some (or many) of these issues all starting to present themselves at the same time, rather than problem solving one-by-one, give some consideration to what’s really happening.
Are these isolated issues? Or are they growing pains driven by larger systemic problems?
That conversation alone could be the driver of a completely different course of action… with potentially much better results.
For reading related to growing pains, see these past articles on Slaw and SlawTips:
Also, see the following articles by Sandra Bekhor at Toronto Marketing Blog: