When a firm’s partners aren’t pulling in the same direction, everything seems to be harder. But when they are, that firm can be unstoppable. Fully formed professionals share a broad range of expertise and experience. Resources and support for professional innovation and personal development create real value. There’s a strong sense of affiliation and pride.
Exploiting this powerful advantage relies on three vital elements: trust, ownership and alignment. Unfortunately, however, trust among the partners is not always as strong as it should be. Too few partners are behaving with a sense of ownership. There is less alignment on goals and values. Leaders often sense challenges to the trust, ownership and alignment of the Partnership when Partners’ questioning of management decisions grows, when Partners’ internal focus increases, or there is continual slippage in executing strategy beyond the core management team.
Uncomfortable as it can be, understanding the sources of these challenges is a critical first step towards solving them. We find that Partners truly appreciate the opportunity to be heard, and that leaders are listening. The process itself provides value.
For example, a confidential survey of the Partners, asking 30-40 topical questions, can provide the data for an accurate diagnosis. Collecting additional open-ended input can capture nuances and deeper insight about the “whys” of their responses. Here are a few of the questions that the partnership should be addressing every few years:
Time for a Check-Up?
It is often better to ask than to assume. Even well-intentioned leaders can be blind to the signals they send or the hidden barriers to greater trust, alignment and ownership. Obvious things like revenue growth, profitability and internal initiatives are far easier to measure than the basic forces that can either enable them, or make them impossible.
We hope these questions help you think about ways of sustaining the long-term health of your firm.