Problems Result from Bad Systems, Not Bad People

Regardless of your practice areas, clients come to your firm craving clarity and guidance. They need assistance, they have questions and their futures – and those of their loved ones – depend on you. In other words, they rely on you to restore the stability in their worlds.

If you aren’t controlling the internal workings of your firm – if you are conducting business in an unpredictable, haphazard way – it goes without saying that your clients will notice. They may choose another firm. They may complain. Ultimately, they may make your life difficult.

Have you noticed the same problems cropping up over and over? Are there concerns about communication, both internally and with your clients? Are there errors in case files or the documents your employees are expected to prepare? Whereas you were once confident, are you now overwhelmed and anxious, stressed out by complications, deadlines and problems? If so, you need to figure out what exactly is causing these problems, but doing so isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Sure, you could point your finger at your employees and blame them when something goes wrong. Maybe someone is actually incompetent or poorly trained, so either let him go or consider improving your hiring or training methods.

However, some experts believe that it is usually a bad system – not a bad person – that is the root of our business problems. According to W. Edward Deming, “A bad system will beat a good person every time. If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Let’s look at our lazy employee example. Is paperwork not filed on time? Are case files a jumbled mess? Does someone appear to be more disorganized than others? Instead of jumping to conclusions, ask your employees their opinions regarding the way they process paperwork. There’s a good chance that, for instance, your current software isn’t adequately meeting the needs of the firm. It isn’t your employee’s fault that your software isn’t working effectively, but you would never have known unless you asked.

It will take practice before this mindset becomes second nature, but try to look at other possible causes for problems rather than simply blaming the person involved. Once you have a better understanding of what is truly happening, you can develop a system to solve the issue for good.

Building Better Business Systems For Law Firm Owners