How to Get Out of the Way in Your Firm
Perhaps you’ve found yourself in this cycle: you’re a solo attorney struggling to keep up with all your work so you hire some help. However, you’re so overwhelmed that you don’t have the time to train that help or give them the processes or procedures for the work you need them to do. As a result, they don’t have much to do and you get frustrated. So, you hire more help and the cycle just repeats itself.
If you’ve been in that cycle, you know that it’s not a fun place to be. However, there is good news: there’s a better way! It will take effort on your and your team’s part but the cycle can be broken.
Step 1: Create Policies and Procedures
In order to break the vicious cycle of hiring team members just to end up doing their work for them, you must first create policies and procedures.
What is a policy?
A policy gives your team the why. It answers the question of why they are doing certain things and why they are doing them in certain ways. We want to document the why so that everyone is on the same page.
What is a procedure?
The difference between a policy and a procedure is that the policy explains why you’re doing something and the procedure explains how to do something.
A written procedure is an opportunity as a business owner to provide your team with direction and set expectations. Procedures make it very clear what you need them to do.
In your procedure, provide direction and a lot of detail. However, you don’t need to provide direction on things that don’t affect the outcome. Put the things that are important to you in the procedure but let your team members take the lead on deciding the rest.
Because you don’t include every single detail in procedures, they will never cover every single situation that your team is going to come up against. You want them to be able to make decisions and act without having to come to you every single time. However, you also want those decisions to fall in line with your vision for your firm and how you want it to operate.
This is where policies come back in. The faster you document your policies, the faster your team will have a set of guide rails within which to operate and the faster their decisions and actions will match what you want them to do.
Step 2: Let Go
When we’re busy and overwhelmed, we tend to tighten the reins. We try to control what’s happening by micromanaging. However, research shows us that, when we do these things, the problem actually gets worse. We become more overwhelmed by all of the additional stuff we’ve taken on.
What’s the solution? Let go.
Once you’ve provided your team with expectations and guidance in the form of policies and procedures, let them take on some responsibility and lighten your load. Research shows that when you let go of something and let another person be responsible for it, they take on a feeling of accountability to make it happen. With that accountability comes the pride of ownership. As a result, you have less direct responsibility on your shoulders and more time to coach team members and help them be more successful on the firm’s behalf.
This leads to another cycle. However, this is a positive cycle and it all starts with letting go.
If you want to learn more about policies and procedures, check out Episode 027: Get Out Of The Way.