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Hard decisions By David Smith on Dec 7, 2023


You know the feeling. You come to the office and get stuck into your “To Do” list. You focus on addressing those day-to-day business issues – but lurking in the corner like a bad smell are those things that you know that you need to do but you just can’t bring yourself to do it.

There’s that staff member who is just not performing because perhaps they’re too lazy or just don’t get it. Your excuse is that it’s hard to find staff and the employment laws are so onerous that maybe keeping the person is better than going through the angst of removing them. But is that true? Are you sure? Could the main reason be that you just don’t want the tough discussion, you don’t want to tell them that they have to go? It’s ten times worse if that person is a partner!

There’s that client who is a right pain in the… The client who is so demanding, never pays their fees on time, complains about the bill, and is hopeless at providing accurate and complete information on a timely basis. The client who should be told to shape up or ship out. Every firm has them and yet few do anything about it.

As an external adviser, these hard decisions seem quite obvious. Part of my role is to make you uncomfortable so that you will no longer accept this situation so that you will act. Prodding you in the right place!

The great observation is that I rarely see anyone who regrets the hard decision. Making it, acting on it, and doing what you might have to do might be painful for all involved but it’s like a surgeon removing a cancer, the host may be temporarily weakened but will grow and thrive by being unburdened by the issue that has been nagging you – sometimes for years.

So perhaps it’s time for a New Year’s resolution or two. Undertake a search for these bad smells/elephants in the room – they won’t be hard to find – you know where they are. Decide that by the end of January you will act. What a way to start the new year – unburdened and energised.

David Smith conducts firm reviews and facilitates the development of strategic plans and business plans. Contact David at [email protected] to explore how he may be able to help your firm.


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