Any regular readers will know that I am passionate about moving law firms (well actually any firm) away from too much short term thinking.
Listening to the news today, it occurred to me that managing a law firm must be a little like managing a football club. Only a very few football managers are given much time to produce results and almost every manager is judged over an incredibly short period. This morning's news item was in connection with Liverpool FC who, apparently, have lost 6 of their last 7 games. They play again this evening and the report stated that a poor result might cost the manager his job. Notwithstanding the media's need for catastrophe, it does underline the "results now" nature of football management. The six matches from 29th August were all won and included a 6-1 win against Hull. The one win in the last 7 matches was against Manchester United. So is this really the sort of performance that should require the termination of the manager's contract?
This sort of attitude reminds me of law firms. Performance is (rightly) reported monthly to the partners - but this can mean that time frame for decisions is much much shorter than it should be. One month of bad results, and partners can be demanding that "something must be done" and ordering management to turn around the firm's performance.
One other similarity between law firms and football clubs struck me. Both are organisations built around highly trained specialists. Both have a fair number of prima-donnas. And in case of poor performance it is often the second-string team, management, and support team who suffer the consequences. Have you ever heard of a football club sacking first team players because of a string of 6 losses - I certainly never have.
My point? Short term results must be viewed in context. Medium and longer term results are usually better indications of the true performance of the organisation. Make sure that you performance manage everyone - "stars" included. Poor results are as likely to be the result of poor performance as they are poor management.