First of all let me repeat that handled with the courage you have shown, cock-ups can be turned to great advantage. The firm has grown far more rapidly in terms of size than the culture has been able to keep pace. Suddenly there are many new and only partly grown up senior staff – they are what make the firm special – but they bring with them demanding and sometimes critical attitudes. They are like babies starting to grow up fast. So what are the conclusions?
1. The US team has responded – but it has not understood yet how carefully it must communicate. Its team of Directors and Associates ARE good – they have to learn the disciplines appropriate to a global business and how to create a circle of confidence. At the moment they are heads down dealing with the business they have created. That’s fine. Let’s start step by step improving their need for a heads up looking for the hurdles ahead and so the need to communicate with the home team.
2. At home your senior staff are also good, etc. but they are still naive – they have to learn how to behave as supportive partners. They need strong but sympathetic leadership – a far more full time job than in the early days of a much smaller firm as it was. So you are going to need to allocate more time to just talking with and listening to their feelings.
3. You have led a transformation but you need to come into your own in the most sophisticated of ways:
- Think through how you want meetings to work, how you want partners to behave and then demand this. I will help you.
- Lets think through the details of career progression, partner sanctions, appraisals and legal structures in detail. Never challenge people’s status without due care – the legal costs, time costs, and exhausting after shock never justifies the short term satisfaction.
And most importantly
- Realise that you DO have the backing of everyone so long as you elicit their support, listen to their comments, and take on board any significant points they may make. NEVER surprise partners – ultimately they have a vote. You have to hasten slowly.
4. Start establishing the way we do things here. Think through
- How you want meetings to feel
- How you expect senior staff to act
- What you don’t like, what you do.
- What quality means in all aspects of the firm
5. What do you value, not value – what irritates you, etc. then let’s talk this through (e.g. Charlie’s expenses, Jay’s job hunting…). You then need to confront each person 1:1 – you are now a big firm, it is getting serious, are they on the bus or not? Some thoughts
- Does Jay not appreciate that you too could get a job anywhere , anytime?
- Does Charlie ever consider the stress and strain of building a practice in NY – the most competitive market on earth?
- Does Allen ever consider how helpful he could be by giving you his total and public support?
6. Finally, you should start to stand tall. I have been looking back to when we first met in the summer of 2004. In the last 2 ½ years you have been transformed and you have been the centre of this achievement. You should be rightly proud. It is time the others began to realise what has been accomplished.