Coaching Case Study

Bringing Together Bi-Coastal Partners

Xander and Ben own a two-partner professional services firm with offices in New York and Seattle.  Their business has a lot going for it: they have a strong niche, very solid financials, and an enviable client base. They are building an expertise in their niche and write and speak extensively on the topic.

They originally came to us when they were considering adding another partner and were looking for analysis of their own partnership in order to explore fully what type of person they should look for.  Their partnership had become strained as each of them met with prospective partners but nothing seemed to move forward.

Partnership Background:

Xander and Ben have been partners for about 5 years. They merged their practices after meeting through professional channels and getting to know each other over many years.  They do very little client work together, but have integrated their systems and do joint marketing.  They each manage their own staff in their own locations.

They are not sure they have gotten the most out of merging their practices, as the distance of their locations means they do not collaborate much, but it has made things operationally more complex.

Key Issues:

  • Their Partnership Compatibility Assessment revealed that both had very low scores in factors related to taking charge of problem-solving.  Both tended to be very low-key and agreeable.  They also highly valued these traits in others.  They both found strong-willed, hard-charging people to be difficult to relate to. 
  • Both preferred to let their work speak for itself and had been successful building their business this way, but they felt that they lacked recognition in the field and wanted a more national reputation, which was part of the reason for the merger.
  • There was a distinct lack of energy around their partnership.  Because they were both very collegial and agreeable, they got a long very well and rarely had contentious discussions. However this also meant that neither acted as catalysts for the business, preferring to focus on the client work.
  • They had no regular communication plan, though they talked or texted at least every few weeks and kept in touch on current matters through email. They mostly communicated when problems arose.  They were both very busy with client work.

 

Results:

  • Xander and Ben decided to add a partner to the Seattle office and are in agreement on the specific criteria that the partner must meet and the rationale behind that. They agree that someone more outwardly competitive than they are may be of benefit to the firm overall, as long as that person also has strong credentials and work ethic.
  • We worked with Xander and Ben individually and together to help them to better stay focused on prioritizing business growth in addition to meeting client demands.  They devised a plan to better leverage staff so that they get more benefit from the merged practices.
  • They developed more effective communication practices to get greater value from their partnership, including unstructured calls and having a staff member coordinate issues that come up in each office to be discussed.
  • While they have many overlapping skills, and not as clearly defined complementary skills, we were able to delve deeper into areas where each felt they could get out of their comfort zone in the interest of building a more well-known and recognized firm.
  • We have helped set the agenda and facilitate their annual retreat, where they meet to discuss strategic issues for the upcoming year.
The partnership resource
  • Form strong partnerships
  • Resolve partnership conflict
  • Reinforce your partnership dynamics

 

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