To offer their clients sophisticated service, professionals need to know (1) what expertise exists across their own firm, (2) how it maps onto their clients’ needs, and (3) when it’s better to refer work to an outsider. But as firms grow, staying current on credible inside offerings becomes increasingly difficult. In our surveys across many professional firms, this lack of knowledge was one of the most frequently cited barriers to collaborating.
To increase collaboration, leaders can help professionals to learn about others’ expertise, identify cross-practice opportunities, and find competent partners to collaborate with. Possible approaches:
- Monthly workshops at practice group meetings that include short presentations from experts in high-potential areas.
- Intranet-based tools for professionals to announce client opportunities, find experts, and ask / answer questions.
- Rigorous onboarding of lateral hires, including having them do “roadshows” to highlight their expertise and pairing them with partners who are responsible for introducing them to others
- A practice manager or other “honest broker” who can connect professionals with credible experts and give a balanced view of how and how much those services might benefit other clients
- Internal newsletters featuring recent collaborative success stories so that professionals understand how others in the firm have combined expertise to solve client issues.
Questions for you:
- What are the best practices you’ve seen in helping get partners familiar with their firm’s full range of services?
- What’s your experience (good, bad, other) with any of these approaches?
- Does your firm use them? If so, do YOU actually use them? How have they helped you?
- What would you suggest instead?
Future blog posts will focus specifically on building interpersonal trust (“Can I trust you not to screw up? “ and “Can I trust you not to walk out the door with my client?”). For now, we’re focused on getting partners familiar with services outside their specialist domain. And don’t forget to check out the prior topic on “Downplaying Stardom” in the Archives at right.