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Similar to drawing an as-built of an existing building, the conditions of the firm as it currently exists must be assessed at the beginning of any improvement process. This may involve interviews with staff, analysis of backlog and other financial data, examination of work processes, and the facilitation of a firm retreat.
Sometimes the assessment process will uncover 'organizational bad-habits,' that unfortunately often start at the top. Every person and every organization has core competency and capabilities, but people and organizations also have what is known as 'core-incompetence.' Noticing what is done over and over again and considering whether these behaviors are serving the goals of the firm can be a point of leverage with a huge upside potential.
The outcome of an assessment process will be a written report summarizing the presenting problems, the underlying issues and available opportunities facing the firm. The report will also include suggestions for next steps including staff workgroup formation, management coaching, financial planning, process improvement and strategic planning.
RM Klein offers firm assessment services as part of a firm improvement initiative or a strategic planning process.
In the assessment of a certain firm, it came out in interviews with the staff that one of the partners was extremely poor at time management. His staff, in fact, set the clock back in the office ¶ hour to try to fool him into being on time for meetings. Nevertheless, his inability to think realistically about the time continues to negatively influence his relationships with his staff, who can never know when he will be available and as a result, are completely frustrated.
Because no one was willing to confront the partner with his need to improve his time management skills, the problem frequently affected firm operations and relationships with clients. Everyone just became used to accommodating him by coming late also, changing their schedule to meet with him, etc., creating untold difficulties for everyone involved.
The assessment process was able to identify this problem by placing it in the context of whole firm operations and without it becoming personalized. A series of management coaching sessions were initiated to help the partner improve on this “bad habit” and as a result the entire firm began to function more effectively.