Platt’s Perspective – Feb., 2013

We all spend LOTS of time in meetings. Meetings about clients. Meetings about the firm. Meetings about policies. Meetings about meetings. You would think with all this communication, we would be masters at addressing issues inside the firm and there would be nothing left unsaid. But we all know that is not true.

In any given firm, on any given day, there are many conversations that the partner group is not having. They’ll address every issue BUT the 600-pound gorilla issues that tend to get swept under the rug.

Consider this partial list of un-discussed issues in many firms:

  1. Partners who aren’t pulling their own weight
  2. Failure to meet commitments
  3. Partners who are not following policies and procedures
  4. Partners who insist on doing their own thing despite management plans
  5. Frustration over low chargeable time/receivables/WIP/billing/realization/fill-in-the-blank
  6. Talking behind each others’ backs
  7. Procrastination
  8. Defending the status quo at all costs
  9. Long-term goals of partners
  10. Partners who are contrary at team meetings.

Every firm has its own list, and whether you want to believe it or not, everyone in the firm knows what’s on that list. How long have those unspoken conversations been festering in your firm? A month? A year? Ten years? In some instances we’ve come across partnership groups who have managed to let many of these issues linger for DECADES. What a pity.

Make a commitment to the good of the firm and to the individuals within the firm. Like anything that is more scary in the dark, once you shine a bright light on the topic and address the real issue – fear, control, status, resentment – you’ll find that the conversations, although uncomfortable at first, may not be as frightening as you thought they would be.

Whether you bring in a mediator or tackle it yourself, now is the time to start addressing the unspoken issues that have been left to grow and multiply in the dark. Tackle one issue a month in a way that is respectful but gets to the heart of the matter. You’ll have a different firm by the end of the year.

Imagine the feeling of freedom and progress once you get on the other side of the discussion.  Your firm, your partners, your staff and your clients will thank you for having the courage to do what you know needs to be done.