Managing the Professional Service Firm: Part Three: How Practice Leaders Add Value (3 of 3)

Why did I chose this resource?

MaisterThis seminal text on managing professional service firms, such as Anant, provides insight and guidance on topics pertinent to our company. I have found it immensely valuable and informative.

What did you learn from it?

I learned about the importance of skilled managers in a professional service firm. Skilled managers coach. They mold high-achieving individuals into to teams of professionals that achieve more as a whole than they ever could as individuals. Good managers bring individuals into the team, as opposed to leaving them to operate autonomously (where they are often less able to stay focused and perform below their potential.

“[Skilled managers] foster an atmosphere of dynamism, of ambition, of aiming to be the best.”

Key Knowledge

Skilled mangers / good coaches:

  • Focus on completing the “postponable” activities that usually get deprecated to urgent day-to-day business activities.
  • Complete the postponable activities, which are actually investments in the future. They include:
    • special outreach and efforts with clients that build relationships
    • extra time a manager takes to nurture a junior employee
    • representing the company in community engagements
  • In the best companies, create an environment of energy, drive, enthusiasm, motivation, morale, determination, dedication, and commitment
  • Encourage and coach, gently prod, and connect with employees in ways that help employees develop their own internal motivation
  • Understand that visions statements, speeches, inspirational group meetings rarely “turn on” partners
  • Inspire people through closed-door, individualized counseling
  • Most importantly, they pay attention to people
  • Coach continuously, not wait for end-of-the-year of the year evaluations
  • Discover on a case-by-case basis they find out what motivates each individual
  • Are chief coach and chief critic
  • Go out of their way to celebrate successes and triumphs
  • Set up employees for success with small pilot projects that they can succeed at in the beginning
  • Build cohesive teams – focus on what’s in the best interest of the group and negotiate individuals needs / interests to align with the group

Very important point:

Good coaches use small meetings to ask “What are you going to do about X?” They don’t present the answer/solution, but encourage the group to come up with the answer – this makes people want to do it for themselves. When this is the case, they are more motivated and excited. As a result, their effectiveness and productivity skyrockets.

How are you using what you learned?

  • Trying to take time to foster and encourage our team (of course, I need to balance that with getting things done) to learn and come up with solutions themselves.
  • Utilize Kaizen feedback with each employee, regularly…and then incorporate that information into daily practice.
  • Twinning “postponable” activities with my ACMs so that there is incentive to complete them and keep them as priorities

Key Changes / Key Actions

  • Institutionalize weekly Kaizen with employees
  • Meet with teams before there are problems – regularly check in with team
  • Be more encouraging with employees – see the opportunities for learning / improvement, as opposed to focusing solely on the problem and resolution

Additional Information

Article by David Maister titled The Anatomy of a Consulting Firm.


  • Name : Managing the Professional Service Firm
  • Author : David Maister
  • Dropbox: Link to Book

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