Staying on course

Build employee buy-in by understanding people’s needs. It goes back to the relationship you have with people. The position I’m in is an elected position. There was a certain amount of belief that I could do the job.

Though I have to understand the issues that confront us, that only comes from understanding our client base and understanding the people here and the personnel that we have here and what we’re experts in. That comes from a lot of dialogue and a lot of relationships and discussions with people at every level of the firm.

We spend a lot of time trying to get to each individual to understand what challenges they see, what issues they see and to explain where we are with respect to moving forward with our plans.

That’s how you communicate. It typically starts with, ‘How are you doing? What’s going on?’ From a simple opener like that, the conversation can go anywhere because you’re generally going to hear in response the issues and the problems that they’re confronting or dealing with at that time.

I think attorneys, and probably a lot of others, like to talk. So you have to resist the urge, sit back and listen. Our tendency is we want to fix things, but you have to listen so you can understand what the problem is so that you can then address.

You have to listen, and you have to spend time with people. If you don’t do that, you won’t understand your organization and you won’t understand all of the challenges and the needs of the people with which you work.

I think that’s how people get comfortable in the vision that you’re laying out for them, that you’re consistent, that they know you’ve invested the time and effort in energy in developing a strategy. We’ve tried to do that through all the different ranks here in the firm.

Absorb employee responses and stay focused. You try to stay focused on what you’re trying to accomplish. If you focus on too many things, you get pulled in too many different directions; you get lost in the maze.

You have to keep in front of you and your eye to a certain degree on what are you trying to do, what’s the mission, what’s the vision, so you have to balance that. That ultimately is sort of the test of how you’ve done.

It’s difficult. It’s very difficult. It’s a science of organization.

The most important thing from my perspective is to be consistent, is to not deviate. You have to adapt, obviously, but not deviate from your plan and just continue to get that out there with people.

How to reach: Armstrong Teasdale LLP, (314) 621-5070 or