The unique team building challenges facing professional services firms are varied to be sure, but they can all be overcome. Today’s marketplace is about as challenging as any market on earth. However there’s a reason why some of us have continued to persist and even thrive for decades. The key factor is the quality of teamwork among the players, delivering the best possible service to our clients.
So what does that look like, and how do we achieve it?
Just a few of the industries served by professional services firms include law, advertising, finance, construction, engineering, and manufacturing. The very nature of these organizations creates management challenges and requires leadership skills that are alien to many other types of business.
By design, then, team building requires an understanding by all the players - an awareness of the firm’s ultimate goal. That goal is defined in the description of the industry itself: ultimate professionalism and quality service. Professional service is the only reason for these firms to exist. As simplistic as that may sound, it is forgotten all too often when teamwork breaks down.
Professional services firms don’t sell products, but they command some of the highest prices around. At the same time, these firms know it’s nearly impossible to offer economies of scale; the concept just doesn’t exist.
Managers in these firms can stress quality and productivity all they want. But they can’t use economies of scale for their services. The only way a firm can produce a profit is by generating billing hours. If team members don’t work well together, the firm doesn’t make any money. This is why team building for professional services firms is so key.
For any manager of a professional services firm, balancing productivity with personalized service is the toughest challenge. The first task is to keep the staff’s motivation level high and maintain productivity. This means that managing staff for these firms requires time and energy invested in coaching them, building the team bond and keeping the talent base at an optimal level. Without expert team members and a winning reputation, the firm will not succeed.
Therefore team building has to happen both at a managerial level as well as through self-direction by the individual team players. It means maintaining constant awareness of the firm’s service objectives and client load while maintaining clear, concise communication with those involved in the project. Building this level of teamwork implies providing a routine forum for the players to connect, exchange information and air any differences.
Teamwork transfers also to the client relationship. Being a business partner to your clients means having the same goals they do. Bringing the team building experience to the competitive sales process allows you to forge strong problem-solving relationships with your customers. Once that iron wall of resistance totters, the intellectual and professional rewards are extraordinary. There is also the sweet satisfaction of knowing that you have succeeded where many other worthy aspirants have failed.
Today, both clients and professionals in the service industry have more options than ever before. Firm loyalty is no longer a given in today’s marketplace, and both staff and clients have a wider range of options than at any other time in history. Team building is the most reliable approach for any professional services firm, creating a win-win situation for everyone involved, especially for the team that delivers both service and profitability.