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Real Change

Forward-thinking firms provide plenty of tools and opportunities for professionals to find, create and sustain business relationships. These activities in themselves are useful. They can be tracked, measured, benchmarked and quantified. They are also often one-shot wonders. If I had a dollar for every time a partner has told me “Yeah, we did that once and it didn’t bring us anything”, I would be luxuriating on a beach in the South Pacific.

Perhaps we spend too much time looking at programs, policies, and procedures and not enough time looking at attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors that exist within our organizations. In my view, real and lasting change occurs only when people learn to think and behave differently.

Creating a business development culture in your firm is a useful example. After 18 years of working in this area, I’ve either tried or heard of every approach under the sun to get professionals to proactively develop their practices. Games and prizes, anyone? A seminar on client service, perhaps? How about leadership training? These things satisfy needs in the short term, but seldom lead to cultural change.

People become powerful business developers only when they alter their attitudes about it and behavior toward it. As the firm's leader, you can offer your professionals a new way of looking at things. You could help them see that:

As your firm’s leaders, you put considerable time, energy, and money into improving your firm. It is important to understand the need to dig deeper into the mind sets of the people you work with.

The actions surrounding real change are much tougher to drop into a spreadsheet, but the results are certainly real: confident, informed, loyal team members; a consistently full business development pipeline; low turnover; and people knocking on your door because they want to join your firm.

Before implementing your next program or policy, try this exercise: take the new perspectives discussed here and extrapolate them to your management, operations, finance, recruiting and retention efforts. Then figure out how you can communicate more effectively to give your employees new perspectives on what they do. Help them understand why this process is important and the successful results you foresee for them and for the firm.

By engaging in this level of thinking and communicating, you have the opportunity to initiate real and lasting change.

© Melinda Guillemette 2009