I began this site with a New Year’s post exhorting a renewed commitment to better firm management. I’ll end this first month by explaining why I think this is so important.
First of all, the stakes are high. Perhaps higher than we want to acknowledge at times.
It can mean the life or death of a firm.
Second, it determines the quality of that life. We spend so many months, years, and even decades, working in our careers, why wouldn’t we want the best possible quality of life at the place we spend so much time?
Third, we have an obligation for sound management of our firms, which I’ll talk more about next week.
The consequences of mediocre, sloppy, or even bad, firm management can be dire. They may not all happen at once, but taken as a whole, they are toxic.
These consequences may include, among others:
- Financial sloppiness, instability, or even malfeasance
- Neglect of top performers
- Inadequate compensation
- Discontent among, or departures of, key staff
- Low energy, communication, and commitment
- Doubt or suspicion of firm leaders
- Abuse of privilege by a select few
- A sense of disparate factions within the firm
In the end, what we get is a bad culture. A place where people want out.
No one deserves such a work environment, least of all the staff who work tirelessly for the good of the firm. It leaves them vulnerable, and their professional development stagnated.
Fortunately, most firms are not like this.
What we are all striving for is this:
- Solid and predictable financial health
- Appropriately generous rewards for high-level performance
- Fair or even above-market compensation
- Staff who build careers at the firm, and attract other high-quality staff
- High level of energy, collaboration, and communication
- Trust in the firm’s leaders and mission
- Value and respect of everyone in the firm
- Integrity throughout the firm
The result is a healthy culture– enthusiastic, innovative, and can-do. A place people want to be. A firm clients want to hire.
One litmus test for culture might be this: if given the choice, would an employee prefer to work at home alone, or work in the office? The answer can be telling.
Here’s another test– do YOU really want to be there?