I was asked this question the other day in relation to the compensation system for a legal partnership. Many partnerships adopt broadly similar systems but they come with lots of different nuances. One of the biggest issues is whether to make it open or closed. Can all the partners see what each other partner earns each year, or is it closed and only the individual partner and the Managing Partner and whatever group of partners make up the compensation committee know? Can you say that one system is better than another?Continue Reading Compensation: Closed or Open?
Leadership and Succession
I think that one of the key roles of a leader is to train, mentor and develop your successors. I believe that there are strong personal and organisational reasons for doing so. In professional firms I have seen too often practice areas and clients wither on the vine or move firm because this has not been properly done, a partner retires and nothing has been done to secure their sucession. I know that will seem mad to some but I have seen it happen all too oftenContinue Reading Leadership and Succession
Channel your fear
I am no psychologist so the thoughts that follow are simply those of my personal experience. I was moved to write this article as I recently had an insight into when a fear might be holding back an individual and their organisation. I use the word fear loosely to mean any form of worry or concern that you may have. I think we all use these terms interchangeably, we talk of “fearing that something may happen”, when we may actually mean we are simply worried or concerned. I think I have lived with fear my whole life and I think it has served me well most of the time, making me alive to and to consider the downsides of any action, but I can also see those instances where it has paralysed me from taking appropriate action. Recognising your fears, addressing them and their cause and channeling them is, I think, the key.Continue Reading Channel your fear
I was asked a tricky question the other day. The question was: ” What would I do if I felt that the values of the organization I worked for were not in line with my own”?
As I said at the time the question led to so many other questions it was hard to unpack it in order to answer it easily. What did the questioner have in mind. How big was the mis-alignment, both in scope and effect. It was a great question.
My initial response was and is that I would find it hard to believe personally that the values of an organization I worked for would differ materially from my own. Thankfully I do not think have ever been in that position. Since then however, I have spoken about the incident to my “millennial” son, who tells me that his generation are constantly faced with this issue. I realise now that my answer demanded further inquiry and consideration.Continue Reading Aligning Values
What to Read?
I am sometimes asked “What should I read that will help me?” The trite answer is anything and everything you can that will teach you something about yourself, the people around about you or the world in which you live. There is so much material around now and easily accessible through the internet that you will have to limit what you read. Disinformation on the internet and social media also means that you will have to read it with an open and somewhat skeptical mind. These days I find inspiration in many places: books, television, blogs, Ted talks, LinkedIn posts, Tic Toc, the list is endless.Continue Reading What to Read?
Acknowledge and Reply
I am constantly amazed at the failure of people, clients, contacts, friends, vendors, whomever to respond to texts, emails or voicemails. Failing to do so creates a vacuum into which the sender can import their worst fears, often about themselves, and damage your relationship. I will assume for the purposes of this article that you actually want to have a relationship with the sender. If not, failure to reply is a way to kill it, not, I would argue the best way, but a way.Continue Reading Acknowledge and Reply
Taking instructions is a bit like having a really good conversation, both involve actively listening to the other person. My father, who was a thoughtful man, once told me, we have two ears and one mouth for a reason and we should use them in the same ratio!
I was reminded of this when I listened recently to an excellent Ted talk by Celeste Headlee called “10 ways to have a better conversation”. I thoroughly recommend it to you. Her rules were very clear, I have summarised my interpretation of them each after the colon.Continue Reading Active Listening
Under promise and over deliver
Nothing breaks trust as quickly as a broken promise. That is why I am constantly bemused by how often people set themselves deadlines that they seem incapable of meeting. As a client one has that constant let down feeling. Self-doubt creeps in, my work is not interesting enough, I am not important enough, I don’t matter to the other person. We all deal with competing pressures and clients – why put yourself under pressure? Allow time for things to go wrong, to take longer than expected, to require more analysis. Don not put unnecesssary strains on your client relationship.Continue Reading Under promise and over deliver
The customer is always right.
Early in my career as a lawyer I heard about the two rules adopted by a grocery chain in the North-eastern United States called Stew Leonard’s. It encapsulated their policy and they were so proud of it they had it chiseled into a granite rock outside the store. It was very simple:
“Our Policy – Rule 1: The customer is always right! Rule 2: If the customer is ever wrong, reread Rule 1!”
I recently re-read this when thinking about this article. Steve King”s article on it, which I can thoroughly recommend, gives a fuller picture: https://stevekeating.me/2021/01/11/the-customer-is-always-right/.Continue Reading The customer is always right.
Change your perspective
What do you do if you cannot think of the answer?
I was out walking my dog on our usual loop early the other day. It is now dark in the morning so rather than do our normal anti-clockwise route we went clockwise to avoid the unlit part of the path early in the walk. Coming back on the unlit part once it had got light I was struck by how different the route seemed despite the number of times we had walked it in the other direction. It really struck me that there was a metaphor here for life and work.Continue Reading Change your perspective