The BS of PS leads to one common and inevitable outcome in all professional services firms–a lot of TALKING.
Firms talk about culture. Firms talk about cross-selling. Firms talk about brand. Firms talk about innovation. Firms talk about rewards. Firms talk about client service. Firms talk about collaboration. Firms talk, talk, talk, talk.
Talk can take many forms. Talking can be partner meetings, employee pulse surveys, brand “parties,” recruiting events, employer branding, annual reviews, value posters, CEO updates, etc. What positive result does all this talking produce? Absolutely none.
So, why do firms do so much talking if it produces no positive outcome?
Firms talk because it makes partners feel like they’re actually doing something about the BS of PS, the innate human and structural dysfunction of professional services firms, without actually addressing any of its core issues.
The fact of the matter is all this talking is disingenuous, produces cynicism, and actually does more harm to the firm than good. Culture does not come from talking. It comes from behavior.
No matter how much “talk” lipstick a firm applies or how many “culture events” it holds, its professionals know that
- Revenue is king
- Utilization is queen
- Client relationship/retention is the prince
- Cost control is the princess
- Partners are the royal court
- Employees are serfs
Why? Because that is how partners actually act when they are not talking.
If you want a different kind of firm, you have to show people that your firm is different by ACTING differently. The most important actions come from leaders in the firm–in every moment of every day.
READ: The Purpose of a Leader
- Confronting “bad apple” partners
- Dismissing employees for a violation of values
- Turning down revenue if it compromises your values
- Helping everyone get smarter, faster, stronger
It means standing up and fighting for what is right even if it comes with a high cost–personally, professionally, or financially.
“Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others,
it is the only means.”
If your partners are spending time in “culture” events, you have a talking problem. A firm can fix it in one of two ways:
- Live out your highest values in every moment–not just when it is convenient.
- Start talking straight to your people about the fact that your firm is no different than any other and that they should shut up and go do some billable work.
Either way, stop talking so much.