February 07, 2012
To Co-Workers: Please Oh Please Try To Steal My Clients.
Lawyers--especially of the corporate variety--are far from the Fighters and Alpha People portrayed in Television Dramas and in the Media.
We're among the most Fearful and Insecure Creatures on Earth.
If you find this performance review idea preposterous, please ask yourself why. We first mentioned the title's idea in a 2006 post. It attracted attention--but many people thought we were kidding. We weren't.
Some lawyer-writers tried to even analyze it, which was strange, and kind of sad. Lawyers--after actors, junior high kids at that first dance, and aging beauty queens just discovering pharmaceutical speed--have to be the most insecure creatures on earth. They think in terms of scarcity--never in terms of plenty.
Someone else is about to get something that is theirs.
Again, friends, it's time to have the courage of your convictions--and otherwise get "off your lawyer knees".
There are lots of suggestions out there on standards, guidelines and take-aways for associate reviews.
Two are (a) letting staff evaluate co-workers and partners on specific inter-office skills in writing, and (b) reviews of staff based on specific client service standards which ALL employees must buy into (i.e., pay increase for well done client service; hit the road, for the unwilling, clueless).
But we still like this one--which is no more discretionary and arbitrary than (a) and (b) above:
Every day, the client service by associates and paralegals should be good enough to permit those employees to actually steal any client, and take them to another law firm (use "transport" for "steal" if you need the PC professional services term), if they were to leave your shop tomorrow morning.
If you are not, in effect, willing to go that far with your own employees in instituting and daily demanding client service, you are neither confident about client loyalty (not to mention employee loyalty) nor really serious about delivering superior client service to your clients. You are a client-service fraud.
And your employees aren't in the game; they are not engaged in the work for clients, they are not stepping up.
A true client service culture has to be that "extreme". So let "them that can" whisk those clients out of your firm with a phone call or two; after all, that's only fair to the clients, if they so decide. If you find this idea preposterous, radical or just too disturbing, please think very hard about what you are really doing at your firm, and your real commitment, to build and lead a true client service culture.
At your shop, is "client service" just drinks-and-dinner b.s. for the clients, and website-and-brochure lip service for the public? Or is it real?
Posted by JD Hull at February 7, 2012 12:59 AM