Happy New Year! Last week Nat challenged us to take action in 2020—to listen to clients in order to adapt servicing offerings and better understand their changing needs, preferences and pressures. As he points out, listening well requires skill, collaboration, an open mind, courage to ask the hard questions, a long-term view and time. That’s a lot to juggle, and lack of time is often the excuse we hear for why it’s so difficult to execute consistent and effective client listening.
Poet and author Carl Sandburg wrote, “Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” Time is precious for everyone—but maybe lawyers most of all.
In this new year, amid the resolutions and demands, I challenge you to be more intentional in how you plan and spend your time. “Intentional” is defined as something done with intent or by design. Without it, the hours and days get consumed by ineffective and inefficient activity.
How can you be more intentional in 2020?
1. Start by using Tara’s highly effective calendar exercise to assess how you have spent your time versus how you will need to spend your time to achieve your goals.
2. Then ask your clients about their 2020 goals, resolutions and intentions, using their feedback to tweak or adjust your intentions.
3. Finally, be sure you’ve incorporated the common themes we most heard in 2019 from clients when describing their favorite and most successful outside counsel relationships. Those attorneys and firms:
- Proactively identify legal and business challenges
- Make recommendations and offer solutions to advance business goals
- Add value beyond the legal work
- Spend the clients’ time and money as if it were their own
- Invest in building relationships
- Understand the businesses, industries and people
- Are good team players
- Always look for ways to make life easier and be more efficient