It’s going to be in the high 90s this weekend in Boston, so I’ll be going to the beach. I’m sure it’s even hotter in your areas and you’ll probably be hitting the beach as well. After all, that’s one of the most beloved summer activities! When I sit on my blanket and dig my toes into the hot sand, I love watching the waves splash before my eyes. Meanwhile, their crashing sounds follow me around for the rest of the day.
The wonderful waves of the ocean remind me of the one constant in our lives: change. I shudder when I think of change, as do many people. It can be scary and uncomfortable! With that said, sometimes change is necessary, be it in your personal or business life. As you take a look around your firm this summer, think to yourself - when is it time to ride the wave of change?
Your answer to most questions is – “that’s just how we’ve been doing it.”
It’s pretty common for law firms to streamline their intake process, lead follow up, and case management. Streamlining is great, as it makes your firm more efficient and allows you to handle more cases. However, it’s also possible that once you have a process in place, you don’t look back at it. At that point, you start forgetting why you set up rules or workflows in the first place. When someone asks you why something is done in a certain way, you might not have the answer. It’s just the way you’ve been doing it, and it seems to work, so why change it?
That’s the perfect opportunity for you to evaluate your processes. Suppose you figured out a system ten years ago. Your intake staff follows up with leads you receive and fills out a questionnaire by hand. Then, he/she determines if someone has a strong case. For someone who does have a strong case, your staff presents the handwritten questionnaire to you, and you then follow up with that person. If your staff wasn’t able to reach a lead, maybe he/she keeps track of this on an Excel sheet.
This may have been a good system ten years ago, but what if you now have a lead and case management software? Maybe you just see the names of the leads you receive in there, but you could be utilizing it for more. Depending on your software, your intake staff can fill out their questionnaires in the software, allowing you to see details about a lead or existing case remotely. You can also keep track of follow up dates so your staff can get a list of claimants to contact each day. Your intake packets could be sent electronically to get them back as quickly as possible.
There are a lot of other examples for how you can consistently try to improve your streamlining - just make sure you know why you do things the way you do them!
You feel like you’re just going through the motions.
Getting into a routine can be great - you know what to do, when to do it, and you have less uncertainty. However, a routine can become tiring for you and your staff. If everyone at your office feels like they’re just going through the motions, that’ll negatively affect morale. Once morale is down, you’ll be likely to take a longer time completing projects, you might have more errors, and you’ll just be unhappy. You want to be excited by your work; you don’t want to dread it.
Therefore, ask your employees how they feel about the work they’re doing. If everyone comes in with a grim face and no one seems happy, it’s definitely time to change how things are run at your firm. For instance, there are tasks that will always need to be completed. Assign them in a way so that no single person has to do all of the mundane work.
As you start making changes in your office, you should look into new projects. If you have employees that are passionate about any of those new tasks, even if those interests are outside of their day-to-day work, let them do those projects! They’ll be happy to do something different, especially if it aligns with their interests.
For example, your website should always be up to date with correct information, but should also be aesthetically pleasing. If one of your intake staff members is great at design work, he/she will enjoy reworking your website, and the result will likely be great. Talk to your employees to figure out what changes would make them excited for work, instead of just going through the motions.
A fresh set of eyes hasn’t looked at your materials.
It’s fantastic if you have a low turnover rate and your employees stick around. That means they enjoy working for you and you don’t need to spend time training new employees. However, when it’s more or less the same group of people working together, everyone gets used to the status quo. That’s when the previously mentioned “that’s just how we’ve been doing it” answers develop, along with the same set of eyes looking at your work.
Try to reassign some of the tasks so that someone new can look at the work that’s being done. That doesn’t mean you have to significantly change who does what in your office - just have someone look at your materials with fresh eyes.
For example, perhaps you have employees who update your site but others who actually speak with your claimants or existing clients. Have the staff that speaks with clients take a look at what’s on your website to ensure that the promises you’re making are accurate and that the language used across the firm is standardized. Alternatively, have your developers take a look at your intake process to see if there’s any way they can help you automate it.
There’s nothing wrong with leaving things as they are and having a routine in place. However, everything has a tipping point, and sometimes it’s just necessary to ride the wave of change. This will allow you to stay ahead of your competition, make your employees happy, and grow as a professional and individual! Hopefully you can catch some great waves at the beach this weekend!