At Vista Consulting we have the privilege of working with plaintiff personal firms of many different sizes and in many different markets. We often get asked by our clients what is the most important characteristic of a COO/Office Manager or Managing Partner. There are several important characteristics, but one that is essential is the ability to juggle the day-to-day pressing issues and not lose sight of long term goals.
If you are a fan of the late Steven Covey you are familiar with his Four Quadrants of Time Management. The concept of the four quadrants is that all activities can be divided into four categories based on their importance or urgency.
The top COOs, Office Managers, and Managing Partners are experts at navigating Quadrant 1 and 2 and minimizing their time in Quadrant 3 and 4. Here are some effective tips for making this happen for you:
- Know what is important. You need to know where you are going before you know what is important. Where do you want your firm to be in a year? Where do you want your department to be in a year? What must happen for that to occur? What action steps can you take? Getting these thoughts written down on paper will help you identify what is important and what is not important on a daily basis. It either gets you closer to your goal or it doesn’t.
- Break it down into manageable steps. A good example is the goal that many firms have, which is increasing their average fee. It is important, but not urgent—it is a process that takes time. You have to break this process down into manageable steps or else it can be overwhelming. Additionally, you have to stay at it for the long haul, even when you don’t see any short term results.
- Get technology on your side. There are several programs out there such as Basecamp, MS Outlook, Asana, etc. that help you break projects down, communicate among team members, and coordinate efforts. Don’t go it alone, get one of them on your side so you and your team can stay on track.
- Carve out some time each month to evaluate progress. The tendency is to feel that we are so busy that taking a few hours or even a day each month to step back, evaluate, and adjust your plan seems counter intuitive—but it is absolutely necessary. Make it happen, get out of your office, go somewhere where you will not be interrupted or distracted, and take a look at your plan and whether you are on the right track.
- Get some accountability. Share your plan with someone and report back to them on what is working, what is not working and any progress that has been made. Vista Consulting does this with its clients, checking in, encouraging them to stay the course and adjust where necessary. If you don’t share your plan or your results with someone else, it is easy to lose momentum.
These are five things that we have seen work for our clients when they are trying to push big projects in the midst of juggling day to day responsibilities. We hope that they help you get your big projects to the finish line.