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A solid strategic plan is a firm-wide initiative; everyone has to pitch in by setting their own individual goals aligned with the wider vision.

Unfortunately, lawyers typically don’t like setting goals because…

  • They fear that not meeting goals will affect their remuneration
  • They feel restricted in the running of their practice
  • They believe they lack control over where the next client or instruction will come from so are uncomfortable setting specific targets

As a result, when lawyers do set goals, they often make these common mistakes:

1. Objectives aren’t aligned with the firm’s vision
For a firm to execute its vision, individual goals need to be aligned with that vision. This is difficult to achieve if the vision and goals aren’t openly shared.

TIP: Make the firm’s vision and the individual’s goals visible, and actively manage alignment.

2. They aren’t shared with colleagues
Sharing objectives not only makes someone accountable for achieving them, it facilitates collaboration with others who have similar goals. It’s proven that collaboration increases revenue and client retention.

TIP: It’s easier to share goals across a dedicated goal-setting system, rather than relying on emails and conversations

3. They aren’t written down
They will be forgotten. Maybe not for a week, maybe not even for a month. But eventually lawyers will forget their objectives unless they write them down and keep them visible

TIP: Store goals where people can quickly and easily access them on a daily basis

4. They aren’t specific
Being specific will not only help with progress but will ensure everyone’s objectives align with those of the firm. While specific goals do pin people down, they also help others understand how to offer support.

TIP: ‘I will attain 3 new clients.’
‘I will attain 3 new clients within the aerospace sector in the US.”

5. They aren’t measurable
If a lawyer can’t measure their objective they’ll never know when they achieve or exceed it – and neither will their manager. For example, they may think 10% is good but their manager expects 50%.

TIP: ‘I increase my monthly billings.’
‘I will increase my monthly billings by 10%.”

6. They aren’t monitored
It’s important to monitor progress against objectives to get feedback and support or to adjust course when it can make a difference, rather than when it’s too late.

TIP: Facilitating continuous feedback is a great way to keep people on track with goals.

7. There’s no deadline
Deadlines are the stick (and sometimes the carrot that many people need to make them act on their objectives.

TIP: ‘Deliver a seminar focused on market trends.’
‘Deliver a seminar focused on market trends before September’s client event.’

8. They are to-do-lists, not objectives
Objectives are the end goal, the ultimate result someone wants to achieve. Tasks are the steps needed to get there.

TIP: Start with the end game, what success would look like and then break that down into actionable tasks.

9. There are too many
When people spread themselves too thinly they get halfway there with a lot of things instead of actually succeeding on anything.

TIP: Choose 5 to 6 goals a year to focus on.

10. They aren’t challenging
A good objective should push the person out of their comfort zone to develop skills that will help both their personal development and the firm.

TIP: We don’t always know our own strengths and weaknesses so get other people’s input to set goals that stretch the boundary

About ObjectiveManager

At ObjectiveManager, we have developed goal-setting software to help professional services firms and their people define strategy and improve performance through continuous feedback to power growth.

By simplifying the way firms conduct the entirety of their strategic planning from Sector/Client programmes to Partner Remuneration, we help them improve collaboration and optimise conditions for growth. Our innovative software turns individual gains into big business impact by making individual and firm-wide objectives visible, constant and actionable.

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