You’re On The Team
One of the great analogies that aptly describes a professional service firm is that of a crew boat. If you are on the team, you must keep your oar in the water or else you are simply cargo being carried along by the others who are furiously rowing to cover for you.
Your oar is in the water when you are diligent about doing your work with quality and timeliness. Over the past several weeks, I’ve spoken to dozens of partners who are struggling with keeping their staff motivated while working from home. For lots of reasons, their staff are not productive enough to run the firm.
You understand firm economics. Essentially, your firm runs by completing work so it can be billed and collected. If you aren’t keeping up and the work is delayed, the client’s payment is also delayed. But you are still getting paid, whether the firm is collecting or not. Who do you think is covering for you? Who has to row harder while your oar is out of the water?
Please understand that everyone understands all of the competing obligations and distractions of working from home. I know it personally, as does all of your colleagues. And in spite of everything, you have to find ways to keep your oar in the water and not expect them to row for you.
It is more necessary now than ever for you to be diligent because you are being counted on to help protect your firm. My friends at Duffy Kruspodin LLP on the west coast have identified “Firm Safety” as a Critical Factor for the firm’s success. When it was written, it meant that everyone is responsible for the integrity, ethical practice and quality of work. But now, in turbulent waters, firm safety extends to everyone contributing to keeping the boat moving.
Going forward, what do you have to do to get your time in and your work done? What commitments do you have to make? What rebalancing and trade-offs are required? What do you have to do differently to keep your oar in the water? You are an essential part of the team, not cargo. So ROW, BABY. ROW!
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