Since the late nineties, Molly has coached, consulted and directed presidents and founders of national organizations and over 400...
Christopher T. Anderson has authored numerous articles and speaks on a wide range of topics, including law firm management,...
Hiring the right employee involves a lot more than looking at a resume. In this episode of The Un-Billable Hour, host Christopher Anderson talks to Molly Hall about the best ways to find and hire quality employees. She shares tips on how to conduct interviews, weed out ill-fitting candidates, and compete with larger firms for talent. She also discusses best practices when letting go of employees that don’t fit.
Molly Hall has coached, consulted, and directed presidents and founders of national organizations and over 400 law firms.
The Un-Billable Hour
If I Could only Find Good People Hiring for a Law Firm
Intro: Managing your law practice can be challenging. Marketing, time management, attracting clients, and all the things besides the cases that you need to do that aren’t billable. Welcome to this edition of The Un-Billable Hour, the Law Practice Advisory Podcast. This is where you will get the information you need from expert guests and host Christopher Anderson, here on Legal Talk Network.
Christopher T. Anderson: Welcome to The Un-Billable Hour, the Law Practice Advisory Podcast helping attorneys achieve more success. We are glad you can listen today on the Legal Talk Network.
Today’s episode is about people, specifically on how to recruit and then retain top talent that enables you to out-compete almost everyone. The title of today’s show is, “If I Could Only Find Good People”.
My guest today is Molly Hall. She’s the co-founder of Hiring & Empowering a business dedicated to helping businesses get the hiring and retaining thing right. And, of course, I am your host, Christopher Anderson, and I am an attorney with a singular passion for helping other lawyers achieve success with their law firm businesses as they define it.
In the Un-Billable Hour each month, we explore an area important to help you grow your revenue, get back more of your time, and/or get more professional satisfaction from your business. The Un-Billable Hour is dedicated to helping lawyers achieve freedom through their businesses, and our guests help you learn more about how to make your law firm businesses work for you, instead of the other way around.
Before we get started, I do want to say a thank you to our sponsors. Answer1, Solo Practice University, Scorpion and LAWCLERK.
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And again, today’s episode of the Un-Billable Hour is, If I Could only Find Good People, and my guest is Molly Hall, co-founder of Hiring & Empowering, and I say the title that way, because in the work that I do, that is a constant refrain, and I’m really excited to have Molly on the show today to talk to us about that and how to stop the hair-pulling and start the solving of this endemic problem in the legal services industry.
So, Molly, first of all, welcome to the Un-Billable Hour.
Molly Hall: Thank you, thank you for having us today.
Christopher T. Anderson: You’re very, very welcome. Now, I really am just traditionally, if you’ve listened to any of my podcasts you know, traditionally horrible at introductions, and so I was with you. So, if you don’t mind, just follow that up and introduce yourself a little bit better, give us a little bit of your background, specifically how you became so passionate that you are working and wanting to talk about helping businesses retain top talent.
Molly Hall: Yes, thank you. So we’ve been in the legal space for 21 years now, and I started out my career working with organization National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys, and I was very fortunate to have an attorney that took me under his wing when he started one of the very first coaching programs in the legal space, many moons back, 20-some years ago. And we were fortunate, because he would spend a lot of time sharing with us the ins and outs of his business. We always say we got MBA in business by shadowing him and being able to support him with building his law firm and then his coaching business.
So, as we are building the coaching business we’d be speaking at legal conferences all across the country, and many times, the attorneys would say to us, how do we clone you, how do we clone my business partner Laney and I, how do we find people like you. And Laney and I started the first team training program called the Team Empowerment Academy back in 1997. The attorneys would be in one room learning how to run their business side and we would be, have all the team members in another room and teaching them how to become what we call Intrapreneurs and Entrepreneur’s World.
Christopher T. Anderson: To really take ownership of their job, I mean, the word “intrapreneur” really means to act like an owner in that role, whatever your role is in the business. Is that right?
Molly Hall: Yeah, indeed. It’s really about you can’t own a law firm as a non-attorney, but certainly, you can have it sweat equity and that heart and soul of protecting and defending your attorney just like you were a shareholder.
Christopher T. Anderson: Well, cool. So let’s get to the meat and potatoes of this now. One of the things that fascinated me and one of the reasons I wanted you to be on this show to share some of what you know with our listeners is that, I hear from attorneys all the time and that’s who the listeners are that one of the beans of their existence is to find good employees. They’ve gotten to the point where they’re not hiring, because they’ve been burned once or twice, and like they’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not worth it and it couldn’t be further from the truth.
But, so I’m hearing from them, it’s hard to find good employees. What is the way? Like, you figured it out. What’s the magic bullet, if you will, to hiring with confidence that you don’t have to go through these bad hires over-and-over again and you get good employees that last over the long term?
What do you do? How do you interview that; how do you process them; how do you get them in? Can you share something about that?
Molly Hall: Yes, indeed. One of the things we see is that attorneys get seduced by the résumé, so to speak. The days of getting a hundred résumés when you place an ad anymore are over. You’re not getting slammed anymore with so many résumés, so when they see one that matches and it looks like they have the skills and the knowledge, they get excited, have a quick phone call with them, maybe bring them in for a face-to-face interview, and then they automatically are saying, oh great, this person can take away my pain, you’re hired.
And, what we see is that they’re not spending the time, really what you talk about so often, Christopher, is really, interviewing from the mindset, making certain they have the emotional intelligence and interviewing from the human side and the character side and the behavior side of things versus from the skill-set and the knowledge.
We always say, you can always teach skills and knowledge if you have the systems and process and willing to give people the proper time and attention, but unless you have a Psychology degree or endless hours for coaching, it’s very hard to teach the human stuff.
Christopher T. Anderson: Right, and you look at I mean not for nothing, like I know from other industries, you look at other businesses that are people businesses that are being successful, and you find that more often than not, they’re hiring for personality, they’re hiring for that emotional intelligence, and then training for the skill-set.
Molly Hall: Indeed. Yeah, and that’s what we believe is the secret to finding the good employees, if you just kind of pause and power down and get really, really present when you’re interviewing people and asking them the powerful questions around how they think, the way they view the world, what’s their perspective and don’t necessarily interview them from their résumés, the duties and the skills and the day to day. That’s maybe interview of two, interview of three, bringing them in for a working interview, that’s one of the greatest ways.
Once you have find out they have the human stuff down, then you bring them in for a working interview and you can practice with them and see their skills in action, and slow down the process a little bit and hire a little slower and be more intentional and mindful and paying attention to, like I said, how they act and behave and think.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah. So one of the things that kind of struck me, because it’s kind of funny, you said, would the days of the hundred résumés are over, and for some roles I agree, but my experience has also been in this day of Indeed and ZipRecruiter and some of those that one of the things we get is we do get inundated, but with mostly like unqualified people. And so, you do get that, exactly what you’re talking about is like that diamond in the rough comes out like, oh, a résumé that like kind of sounds like kind of like what I’m looking for, yay.
So, I totally agree with you on the interviewing for the mindset first, but like can we back it up one step, like how do we weed out who we interview, because sometimes like it seems just too daunting to interview everybody, and that’s part of the allure. It’s like, okay, we have a résumé that matches, I can’t interview all these people, so let me interview that one. How do we do a better job of getting people to that interview phase?
Molly Hall: Yeah. So what we do is we do a five-minute phone interview where we cut right to the chase. The first line in all the ads we place is don’t even apply for this job unless you’re the best and you can prove it, and it really weeds out a lot of the people that can’t speak into that first and foremost.
Christopher T. Anderson: I love that, yeah.
Molly Hall: It’s either going to offend you right off the bat and you’re going to not even apply, and the ones that do apply, then you go through all the résumés and you do a five-minute phone interview.
I tell attorneys, don’t even waste your time setting up interviews, bringing people into your office, they don’t show up or you know in 30 seconds, they don’t have what it takes.
So, use that time and cut right to the chase. You can plow through five-minute, ten-minute phone interview and you get through 20 or so in no time and be able to — you’re lucky if you have a good solid two or three out of that candidate of 20. So protect your time and don’t be unapologetic about it, just get on the phone and cut right to the chase with people and you’ll be able to see if they have the phone presence.
Are they answering — because many of them that’s how they’re going to appear in front of your clients.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah, and I love that question just like the warning, if you’re not the best don’t bother applying. And it’s funny, I have different things I have never used that one, I’m stealing it shamelessly, but like I have other things and people — some people do get offended and even some people write me like how dare you suggest that I have to prove that I’m the best. And all I can think of is, thank you, thank you for telling me who you are, right now and saving us both a lot of headache. So I absolutely love that question.
So, that’s how we weed them out and I think that’s a great point on interviewing. We’re interviewing for the mindset first.
What I think that then becomes the headache though is, okay, I go through all this, I go through that process and a lot of attorneys are introverts and the interview process is not fun for them. And then they finally get the person in and they invest the training and then they see people walk out or leave or that they have to let them go, and they feel like they’ve got a revolving door in position.
How would you address the concern that getting help is beginning this revolving door in their positions and they’re just wasting their time training and retraining and retraining?
Molly Hall: So, presuming that you do the interviewing process, right, the next time you do it and then you’ve done your due diligence, you’ve hired from mindset and behaviors, you bring them in. What we find is to stop the revolving doors really to get people constant connection, communication, time and attention. That’s what humans want.
When we’re interviewing people, we say, tell me why you’re leaving your job, what are you looking for? The moral of this story in the common denominators, they didn’t get time with their attorneys, they threw a manual at them and then they got no feedback, they never knew if they were knocking the ball out of the park or if they’re failing miserably every day.
And so, a lot of times the attorneys weren’t giving them that proper coaching and mentoring and feedback. So we say dedicate one hour a week, we call it a shareholders’ meeting, if you will, it’s that entrepreneurs’ time where you are in that time you are giving real-time feedback, what worked about last week, what didn’t work about last week.
Christopher T. Anderson: And is this one-on-one that you’re recommending?
Molly Hall: Well, we recommend as a firm, as a whole, but indeed but for — when you’re bringing a new employee on you should have set goal setting right when they begin and then we always recommend that you’re doing 30, 60, 90-day employee growth plans, reviews, evaluations, assessments, and giving them that dedicated time.
Employees that go through that process, they’re just — they’re grateful for it and they are constantly wanting to grow and thrive if they know what your expectations are for them. So that really stops that revolving door if you have consistent performance, plans, and communication. People will never ever leave you because it’s very rare that employees get that anymore, it’s you’re hired do what you’re told, collect your paycheck and keep your mouth shut.
And that’s not the environment that when people get out of that environment, that’s a lot of times why they want to leave businesses is because they want to be part of impact. They want to be difference making in the places that they spend the majority of their waking hours.
Christopher T. Anderson: Absolutely, and that goes to saying that I’ve heard many times, which is people join companies or businesses and they leave managers, and in this case, the managers are often the owners.
We’re talking with Molly Hall. Molly is the co-founder of Hiring & Empowering and we’ve been talking about how to weed out employees from all the résumés you get, and how to do the interview process right. We’ve also talked about how to stop the revolving door.
We’re going to take a break now to listen to a word from our sponsors. When we come back, I’m going to ask Molly about how we in the small law firm business can compete with major firms in attracting top talent, and we’ll be back in just a moment.
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Christopher T. Anderson: And we’re back with The Un-Billable Hour. This is Christopher Anderson. We’re talking with Molly Hall. She is the co-founder of Hiring & Empowering, and before the break we talked with Molly about how to weed out like when you need to do employee, you know you need one, but you’re like afraid to go back into the pool, but you do.
How do you weed through the résumés? And then not get enticed by the one or two or three that seemed to match and then just hire them, right? How do you weed through them and then do a correct interview process that first interviews for mindset and then for skill-set.
Then we also talked to her about how to stop the revolving door and how to do intrapreneurial interviews in the business to make sure the employees are connected to your goals, to the mission of the business, and don’t feel like they just got plugged into a system and are just a cog because that’s why they left their last job.
And so, what we wanted to do when we came back from the break and I told Molly, what we’re going to ask her about is the big question that I’m hearing from a lot of the businesses I work with too, which is, all right, that’s all well and good but how am I going to be able to compete with the major firms, with the bigger firms when it comes to attracting top talent because the markets tie it out there for my littler boutique-style law firm.
So, Molly, what do you have to say to the smaller law firms about competing with the bigger firms for that talent that seems to be harder and harder to find.
Molly Hall: Yes, so in this day and age, we’re finding that a lot of people don’t want to work at the bigger firms and are coming back to more of the smaller field firms where their opinion and they make a difference in their day to day work. So, competing with it is just letting people know that we do have these performance reviews that we do have an on-boarding process, that we do have weekly communication, that’s what we’re finding from people when we’re going through the interviewing process and we’re saying, tell us why you’re leaving your bigger firm? Why are you applying to this? How are you going to manage every day when you’re used to working with a hundred people and now you’re working with 10, 12, 15, how’s it going to feel for you? And that’s what we’re hearing from people more-and-more is that I want to feel like I matter. I feel like that I can make a contribution.
So, when I tell them that what makes this firm really unique and why you really want to come and work from them is that they do have weekly meetings where they are sitting down, they are looking at what’s working, what’s not working in the business, always looking for continual improvement and refinement. You will have very clear concise, well-communicated goals, you’ll know where your North Star is, you’ll know when you’re making the mark, when you’re missing the mark, what makes this firm really unique is that they do give the coaching and the mentorship. And you’re always going to be getting that continual improvement plan and you’ll have direct exposure to getting a MBA because you’re seeing what it takes to run a business and you will never get that anywhere else.
And that’s really attractive to people. They love to hear that, they get — I mean some people say to us, wow, this is exactly what I’m looking for.
Christopher T. Anderson: That’s a really great observation, I think. I think there was a time probably that prestige of working for the bigger firm was what people were looking for, but what you’re saying is like people were less interested in that today, and more interested in doing something that has meaning and with connection, that’s the selling point that enables you to really compete with those larger firms.
Molly Hall: Indeed. Christopher, I’ve had people take pay cuts, massive pay cuts, it’s not necessarily about the money anymore, especially since 2008. I hear people they’re interviewing me just much some interviewing them on the stability, on the autonomy, on the longevity of the credibility, the integrity of this firm and that’s really there it’s more about purpose driven than about the big paycheck in the prestige.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah, which is really exciting for me because that’s always been part of my message are the lawyers and growing their businesses is that they have to themselves get in touch with that message, get in touch with their mission, they have one, they just haven’t been very much in touch with it, and of course, that would be a prerequisite but a huge empowerer to being able to communicate that to their team. So, I think that’s both confirming and hugely motivational, so I appreciate that.
So, as these attorneys are going through this, again one of the frustrations, so we’ve talked about how they could possibly attract that talent by connecting them with their mission.
But one of the frustrations they still are coming up with is that they’re feeling like the people they hire won’t step up, won’t become leaders in their business, push stuff back up to the people who delegated it to them or in some cases delegated it poorly to them. What is going on, what can these lawyers, what can these law firms do to get the attorneys, the paralegals and the other parts of their team that they hire to take ownership, to take leadership in the business and not just throw things back at them?
Molly Hall: I love that. We hear that all the time from the attorneys saying, I wish someone would just step up and lead and then the team are saying, well, I don’t know what that means, I don’t know what they mean, I step up and lead. So, again, it comes down to really clear concise communication in regards to we always tell the team members you know what their day-to-day world looks like, they’re on stage constantly in the conference rooms, closing clients, giving presentations or out in the community all the time there and then they come in the office and they get hammered by employees, right, left and center and your job is to really protect their time, protect their energy and always know what’s coming at them and what’s coming behind them.
So, if they can really have that dedicated time I cannot say enough about that each week and the goal is that we always tell the team members, it’s your job to facilitate that. We have attorneys that say, actually I would love for you to be in the driver’s seat and for once I could sit in the passenger’s seat and you can manage and facilitate this conversation, tell me what’s coming at me and what to expect.
So, when it comes to step up and lead I’d say, again, you’re going to find this in the interviewing process if you really pay attention and you’re aware and you’re intentional from the interviewing to the on-boarding when it comes time from really having confidence that you can let go of control and not come back to a pile of ashes or a parking lot when you lead the 22:01.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah, yeah.
Molly Hall: Which is a greatest worry of any business owner.
Christopher T. Anderson: Sure.
Molly Hall: Is that you’re going to be listening for the powerful question that your team is asking, what can I take off your plate this week? I notice that you’re still doing blah, blah, blahs. We always tell the team it’s your job to go to your attorneys with proposed solutions versus problems.
So, if your team is not coming to you but propose solutions, and even if you have team right now that you say, I know they are a superstar in hiding, you can even start empowering them and giving them permission, because a lot of times as it plays, we’re just trained and raised to think get your job and do what your “boss tells you” when the entrepreneurs secretly saying, gosh, I wish I had somebody on my team that was telling me what to do, because I’m always constantly providing solutions for everybody else, it’d be great if somebody came to me with proposed solutions.
Christopher T. Anderson: And they have to be empowered to do that, yeah, that makes total sense, and I think it’s funny, this brings me back to a moment I had at LexisNexis. I knew nothing. I went to LexisNexis knowing nothing about how to lead a product team and I was given that role. I was going to manage a product team. Okay, great, and so I started giving them solutions like you just said, I was like, okay, here’s what we’re going to do, we’re going to make the software look like this and the screens are going to look like this, and fortunately, there was a senior person on that team who took me aside and said, hey, I don’t want to undermine you in front of anybody, but you know what, solutions are what we do, you give us problems.
Your job is to go out in the world and find problems and bring them to us and throw them over the wall and we will hammer them into the solutions for you, don’t worry, and that was so empowering for them and for me, because then as an entrepreneur I could go out and do what I do knowing that my team had the solution making. So that really resonates with me and I think other people listening should really take that very, very seriously. Like, allowing your team to come up with, it’s not just asking them to requiring them to, but allowing them to come up with solutions themselves is hugely empowering.
Molly Hall: Indeed, indeed and letting them know they have permission to that. I say when you’re developing the relationship and on-boarding them and hiring them one of the greatest gifts that an attorney and a business owner can give to their team members say, I give you full permission to use your voice and when you have suggestions for refinement, for efficiency, for improvements, I want to hear about them. I am not paying you to just come here every day and do what you’re told, quite the opposite, I need somebody who’s coming to me and always looking at my business with business eyes and entrepreneurial eyes.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah, indeed. So one of the challenges now that some of the attorneys listening here and some of the people I work with, they are not looking to hire their first person or their second person, they’re on their 5th or 7th or 10th or 15th person and they are getting into the HR world and they’re starting to hear the terms that even I think you and I have added around a little bit, but they’re certainly hearing them around in business, employee retention, loyalty, empowerment.
These concepts that we talk about, what did they mean and why do they need to be really in tune with what these terms employee retention, loyalty, empowerment, other HR terms that we talk about, what they mean. Can you just like talk a little bit to why getting familiar with this terminology is important and what they should take from it?
Molly Hall: Yeah, I think it goes hand-in-hand with that previous question around the revolving door and how to eliminate and eradicate the turnover because we all know how much it costs to find, mine, hire, retain employees and not to mention your time with that.
So, the reason that we are so passionate about these terminologies empowerment and some of the terms that you had previously talked about is for that purpose, is to be very competitive, number one, and to keep people from a longevity perspective. So that what’s in it for the attorney to be able to do that is to keep that longevity, to make certain that we have people that — there’s so much to say from a marketplace when you have employees that have been with you for 10-15 years, it says a lot about your business, your culture, and so to empower your team I think the easiest word that I could come up with because it’s so it doesn’t sound so rot-rot, is giving them permission and letting them know what they have permission to do from a place of business management and leadership.
And when you hire people that have that leadership mentality there really isn’t a tremendous need for management, if you will, because they come with what Laney and I talk about all the time batteries included.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah.
Molly Hall: So that’s really when you’re doing the interviewing process people to be competitive and to stop the revolving door is to make certain that people have permission to be on a path of growth and come to because a lot of times employees are afraid to even make suggestions because they’re afraid that they’re going to get fired. It’s the craziest thing and the entrepreneur attorneys are desperately begging for somebody to come there with efficiency because they are in the conference room all day, they don’t know that our process for answering the phone or our intake process could be streamlined and cut in half and our closing rate could be increased, they don’t really know that and when somebody can come to them and make suggestions that right there is music to any entrepreneur’s ears.
Christopher T. Anderson: Absolutely. We’re talking with Molly Hall, co-founder of Hiring & Empowering and when we come back from this break we’re going to talk to Molly about what to do when you know it’s come time to let someone go, the conversation and the aftermath of when you know the relationship with that person is not working.
First, we’re going to hear a word from our sponsors and then more with Molly Hall, co-founder of Hiring & Empowering when we’re back.
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Christopher T. Anderson: And we’re back with The Un-Billable Hour, my guest today is Molly Hall, she is the co-founder again of Hiring & Empowering.
In the earlier part of the show we’ve been talking about how to find those diamonds in the rough and how to interview them properly so we onboard the right people. We’ve talked about how to compete with larger law firms and really give a message about what’s special and good and better about working with firms our size, and also how to really communicate and empower our employees, our staff, our team by giving them permission to do a great job.
I told you when we come back from the break, and so, Molly, I’d like to ask you now sometimes it just doesn’t work out and we’ve all been in that position where we’ve given them a warning, we’ve tried to correct them, we’ve exhausted our belief that they’re going to get better.
We’ve sat down with them, and whatever, it’s not working they’ve got to go. I’m familiar with, I know my listeners are familiar with the term, hire slow, fire fast, but that doesn’t make this moment easier and I’m not sure everybody does a great job.
So, can you talk us about some best practices for how to deal with the fact that this relationship is not working?
Molly Hall: Yes. It’s actually I love this conversation because we make it harder than it needs to be and make it an emotional decision versus based on facts. So, when you are using some of those best practices approaches that we talked about earlier where you’re setting goals, you’re doing 30, 60, 90-day reviews during the on-boarding process and then for existing employees we are big proponents of doing quarterly reviews with them where they have goals that they’re playing into and you’re meeting with them quarterly.
If you have all that and play some firings actually quite easy because it’s very clear on exactly what the expectations are, what your goals are, what their goals are and then when you’re meeting consistently you’ll know very quickly that if it’s working or not. So it makes that conversation very easy to have.
Laney and I always say, when you have that structure in place of firing side of it, it is easy and very well-received because typically a lot of times they’ll lead you to that conversation and I feel like I’m not making the mark, I’m not getting this, I’m not certain if I’m a good fit for this. So, a lot of times they’ll give you the lead-in for that conversation. What we say is if you’re following that it makes the firing rather easy for the most part when you’re coming from a business decision versus emotionality.
The part that we always say to pay attention to when you have those best approaches in place is pay attention to how you’re going to communicate that conversation to the team so it doesn’t run like a cancer through your law firm and it doesn’t have this infectious trickle-down effect. So, when you have a conversation with the team about Susie’s leaving or so-and-so’s no longer going to be here and you use it as a great opportunity to do a huddle about restructuring and opportunity and come from an empowering place. It goes so fantastic because there are people that will step up and say, I’ve really wanted to be on Susie’s position. I would love to talk to you about how I can take over the intake role or whatever role they were serving, and you really get people that will rise above and really rally behind you if you handle that conversation with a tremendous amount of opportunity and strength, and a lot of times people let people go and then never have a conversation with the team and just hope that nobody notices.
Christopher T. Anderson: It was so ineffective that made 32:48 gone, right.
Molly Hall: Yeah.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah, and so I mean the thing that strikes me when you explain it that way. That also strikes me as if you’re having these conversations you’re having those meetings with the team. In a sense they should expect the conversation, not just the person you let go but the entire team should be also very aware that it wasn’t working, and you actually earn respect by taking the right action.
Molly Hall: Yes, because if you’re having your weekly meetings with the entire firm where you’re running it very much like a Board of Directors meeting as what we call it and then you’re having these quarterly reviews, and hopefully, you’re doing quarterly events and strategic planning with your team, et cetera. It’s no surprise to anyone. It really isn’t and it’s traditionally — when it does happen that way. When you have those best practice approaches in place there’s no drama around it. There’s no — it just really comes from that was a really great business decision and people are able to plug and play and not only not miss a beat and not take a back step but it actually brings a tremendous amount of immediate opportunity in our experience.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah. I know, I think that’s fantastic, very positive approach to making the changes that sometimes need to be made.
Speaking about changes and how to deal with employees. One of the questions, I mean, I deal with, Molly, all the time, I mean people are asking me to help them, to construct them is with compensation. People are just like really floored by and uncomfortable with incentive compensation plans, and I think part of it comes from a sense that maybe it shouldn’t have to be that way. Like why can’t I just pay them a fair wage and then they should be grateful to have a job? Why do I have to have this like really complex incentive compensation plan and one of the things I coach them on is, of course, don’t make it overly complex but can you talk to the listeners about why if bonuses or instead of conversations really necessary, and if so, how to put that together? How to make that make sense for the employees and have the effect, have the impact that you’re hoping it’ll have on your business?
Molly Hall: I love this conversation and you’re exactly right. It doesn’t have to be very complex and you always want it from a place that the business wins and it’s profitable.
So, again, it makes you very competitive as well. It’s quite simple. Laney and I really are big proponents of have the team come up with that so the best effective incentive compensations have been and say your quarterly planning retreats that you do with your team.
Hopefully, you’re doing that where you’re powering down, taking a day out, and one of the things I tell attorneys is make it really simple and say, guys, I would love to start implementing an incentive-based compensation for all of us quarterly what have you. Here’s our goals, and it doesn’t mean you have to open up your books and show your P&Ls or your numbers or anything. Our goals is to get 10 intake appointments a week, whatever they are, and share what they are, because the strategic byproduct to that is that you’re generating revenue and have them come up with it and just leave it there and say what are some thoughts, and brainstorming, and whiteboard.
I’m always fascinated. A lot of times, the team it’s not even about money. Sometimes it’s time off because there’s all this conversation about less is more in the work-life balance. They’ll say, well, how about if we reach a goal that we’re able to take, close the office at 1 o’clock on Fridays or we’re able to have summer hours or something of that nature and we get phone calls from attorneys all the time saying, holy smokes, I can’t even believe it. It’s not costing me any extra money. I was thinking it was going to be 2 times, 10 times more than that and what they came up with blew my socks off.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah, and it’ll be more impactful because it’s theirs.
Molly Hall: Theirs, yes, yes, yes; when it’s theirs, they will drive it home, like no tomorrow.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah, I think that’s wonderful. Earlier on in the conversation, I took one of the words that you used “Intrapreneurs” and I gave it a definition that was very brief. I wanted to know if you could like maybe just expand a little bit on that. What do you mean when you talk about Intrapreneurs in an Entrepreneur’s World, that is what is a phrase that you’ve coined in legal space. What do you mean really in the context of law firms by entrepreneur and the big question is, do we as attorneys really want them in our business?
Molly Hall: So, the term Intrapreneur to us means that they have the ownership of the business without the capital investment. A lot of times for team members, they want to when we do the interviewing process like we said earlier. They want to be part of something. They want to be part of something that’s impactful, that’s purpose-driven and when they are employees, they don’t have the entrepreneurial spirit to go hang their own shingle to start their own business. They don’t have the makeup, they don’t have a DNA for that, but to be on a path of growth they want to always be striving for something better.
So, when you’re enveloping them and sharing your goals and sharing your vision then you have these incentive plans in place, you have quarterly reviews, you have your weekly Board of Directors meetings with them. They own the business from a heart and soul perspective just as much as you do. They take care and concern for making sure you have a full calendar to make certain that we’re reaching our revenue goals. They start to use terminology like our clients.
When I hear people make that shift and I’m facilitating the reviews and I hear the employees say, well, our clients that for me says they got it. You got an entrepreneur. They never say the firm. They start to really feel like this is their business just as much. They’ll work nights, they’ll work weekends, they’ll stay late to be able to deliver and to over-deliver, you know over-deliver to your clients, your referral sources, et cetera, because they feel like it’s their business as well and they’re never going to leave.
Christopher T. Anderson: That’s fantastic. Thank you. All right, we are in the closing moments of the show, so I wanted to know if there’s like one last golden nugget, if you will, piece of advice. What’s one takeaway that you could give to our attorney listeners on how to manage or how to deal with their employees to keep their firm running well, to increase efficiency, to minimize drama? What would it be? What one nugget should they walk away with?
Molly Hall: Yes, it is so simple. I find the greatest magic bullet, if you will, is that they are human beings. So if you give them time, attention and feedback they’re never going to leave you and if you have this conversation, if you will, with them where you — it’s amazing how many employees if they’re not getting the attention of their employees and their attorneys, they’ll find ways to get it, almost like a five-year-old.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah, I can’t do it by being good, I will do it by being bad.
Molly Hall: Exactly. They’ll start creating drama or they’ll start messing up on a file so they get your attention. So, give it to them that right, front and center and that will be the greatest way to keep and retain clients and your employees as well. If they’re getting that consistent feedback, they’ll do anything and everything to improve and to make a great business for you.
Christopher T. Anderson: Fantastic, yes, just pay them — pay attention, treat them like human beings.
Molly Hall: Yes.
Christopher T. Anderson: Fantastic, Molly, thank you.
That wraps up this edition of The Un-Billable Hour, the Law Business Advisory Podcast. My guest today has been Molly Hall and she is the co-founder of Hiring & Empowering.
And, you can learn more about Hiring & Empowering and about Molly by going to their website at www.hiringandempowering.com or check them out on Facebook also Hiring & Empowering.
This is, of course, Christopher Anderson and I look forward to seeing you next month with another great guest as we learn more about topics that help us build the law firm business that works for you.
Until then, remember that you can subscribe to all the editions of this podcast at the legaltalknetwork.com or on iTunes. Thanks for joining us and we’ll see you again soon.
Outro: The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of, nor are they endorsed by Legal Talk Network, its officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders, and subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.
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