In an earlier article I talked about the importance of setting goals for the year and clearly communicating them in a motivational way to your associate attorneys and staff at an annual “kickoff” meeting in January. As a follow-up to that meeting, you should also be holding a once a month firm meeting to continue the momentum towards achieving your goals.
This monthly firm meeting is a very important one that you simply cannot miss (nor can anyone else). Every single person who works in your firm – – whether attorney, staff, full-time or part-time – – must understand it is mandatory to attend (even those who work outside the office are expected to participate by speakerphone). This meeting will keep your group focused on the specific goals set for them, both firm-wide and individually. This meeting also helps improve your teamwork and team member morale. Most importantly, it indicates your leadership in holding yourself and everyone accountable for working toward and meeting the firm’s goals.
I hold our firm’s monthly meeting on the first Monday of each month. This way, everyone is sure to have it on their calendar for that day (or at least in their minds if they haven’t looked at their calendars). Everyone knows that this meeting is inviolable, which means no one is allowed to take meetings, phone calls, do any other business, or be out of the office during the meeting time set aside. (We even try to avoid scheduling vacations that overlap this meeting.)
One hour is blocked beginning at 12 noon until 1pm. The meeting is held in our firm’s conference room and we bring in a nice lunch from a local restaurant or caterer (typically each person gets to order exactly what they want from a menu in advance). By giving everyone lunch “on the firm”, you not only make sure that everyone will show up on time, but you put everyone in a much better and more receptive mood.
Usually, I let everyone eat their lunch between about 12pm and 12:20pm. By then most everyone is already finished and they’re enjoying a little chit-chat. If they’re not finished by then, I will pardon myself and go ahead with the meeting, as I want to make sure that we stay on time and cover everything intended.
When I begin the formal meeting at about 12:20pm, here is the agenda or “template” for the meeting that I adhere to every single time. It helps to keep the meeting “to the point” and, end it on time, so you don’t waste anyone’s valuable work time. It is important to stick with this agenda so people have a sense of security that you will be covering each of these issues at each firm meeting.
- Welcome any new personnel having joined the firm since the last meeting. We’ll cover a little bit about their background and talk about their specific duties list and objectives, as well as how they will fit in terms of working with other existing personnel.
- How we are doing financially. Did we meet last month’s financial goal or how in general did we do financially the last month? It’s important to have some transparency so that everyone knows how the firm is doing. The degree of specifics that you want to supply are up to you. I typically, each month, set a revenue goal for the firm, which I announce at that month’s meeting. This goal is based on our overhead expenses and budgeted amounts for bonuses and non-recurring expenses. (I will be discussing this in more detail on one of my upcoming Practice-Building Teleconferences). If we didn’t hit the prior month’s revenue goal, I let them know. Most of the time I will let them know specifically how much we were short or in excess of the goal for the previous month. I’ll also examine the reasons why this occurred. I then will set the financial goal, in terms of gross revenue, for this month of the meeting.
- How we will achieve this month’s goals. I then go into what our plan is for meeting the goals, including marketing for the month, appointment calendar goals for the month, goals for how much work in process will be delivered and paid for during the month and any realignment of tasks or procedures that will be necessary to achieve our goals.
- Any equipment or firm infrastructure issues. Here, we discuss items such as new equipment purchases, relocation of staff or equipment, ordering of supplies, other office procedures, etc.
- Miscellaneous announcements. I acknowledge birthdays of personnel coming up during the month, anniversaries (of hire dates) coming up during the month and any firm events coming up that month which they will be attending, such as a special session with a speaker on customer service.
- Customer service. I always want this to be the closing item that I speak about and always make sure that I am prepared in advance and have allocated at least five minutes to go over improving customer service. I will bring up examples and stories of actual client cases that were a “win” during the previous month as well as any client thank you letters that we received or positive responses to e-mail surveys (which we send clients after their signing meetings). Very often we will hold an open discussion of what things we can do better individually and as a group to improve our customer service and make it consistently excellent.
- Closing of the meeting. I always close the meeting at or before 1pm. Here’s what I say with a strong, upbeat tone: “Great. That’s it for today. Thank you, everyone. Let’s all have a great month!”
You can minimize your time in preparing for the meeting by properly utilizing your staff. I typically have my Director of Operations/Office Manager prepare a detailed outline using the above agenda or template. She will consult with other key staff members, including our Senior Paralegal, who supervises our associate attorneys, and our Marketing Director. Once finalized, I am given the agenda a few days before the meeting, which significantly cuts down on my own preparation time. I may add a few items to the outline, but over time, these additional notes have become minimal. Your key staff who prepare the meeting will embrace the task, as it gives them an important feeling of empowerment.
In summary, although this monthly meeting may address serious issues, it is kept positive and people come away from these meetings energized and ready to have a good month. It also creates a lot of camaraderie, since it is the only time during the entire month that every single person in the firm gets together, has lunch and enjoys each other’s company.
You will “miraculously” find that by holding this firm meeting every month, everyone in the firm will, as a team, achieve more of your goals each month and everyone will enjoy themselves in the process!
Join us for a very special 90-minute presentation with Philip Kavesh on Wednesday, August 20th at 9am PT (12pm ET) entitled, “The Proven System for Holding Efficient and Productive Meetings with Associates and Staff”. This program is part of Phil Kavesh’s Monthly Practice-Building Teleconference Series.
On this program, you will learn:
- Why internal office meetings, done properly, are actually a more important use of your time than meeting with clients, doing client work or virtually any other activity
- Which meetings you should schedule regularly – – including the right and wrong days and times – – and which “meetings” you should avoid or eliminate (also known as “interruptions”)
- The 7 Key Rules for holding efficient and productive meetings
- The specific agendas for difficult types of associate and staff meetings
- How you can manage your time in preparing and conducting internal meetings – – while maximizing the results!
For more information and to register, click here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Attorney Philip J. Kavesh is the principal of one of the largest estate planning firms in California – – Kavesh, Minor and Otis – – now in its 32nd year of business. He is also the President of The Ultimate Estate Planner, Inc., which provides a variety of training, marketing and practice-building products and services for estate planning professionals. If you would like more information or have a question for him, he can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at 1-866-754-6477.
OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE
- MARKETING: “More Clients, Better Clients” by Joseph J. Strazzeri, J.D.
- LIFE INSURANCE: “Some Magical Aspects of Life Insurance” by Jonathan G. Blattmachr & Matthew D. Blattmachr
- TAX PLANNING: “Tax Alpha®: What Sophisticated Counselors & Advisors Needs to Know” By Robert S. Keebler, CPA, MST, AEP (Distinguished), CGMA
- LIFE INSURANCE: “The Whole Story: The True Rate of Return of Permanent Life Insurance” by Jason Oshins, Financial Advisor, MBA
- ASSET PROTECTION: “Why Offshore Trusts Do Make Sense (A Brief Story)” by Jeffrey M. Verdon, J.D.
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