The planets are in alignment! You’ve done the due diligence and worked hard to consider all the key factors. As a result, you’ve found a great lateral with strong potential who is a solid cultural and strategic fit for the firm. It’s time to conclude “The Lateral Dilemma” series with the final critical step: bringing that person on board with a thoughtful integration process that ensures success.
Even before a lateral walks through the door, there should be a clearly defined path of expectations covering both the new hire and the firm. To make the new partnership work well, you should clarify milestones for relationship building, strategic alliances with other areas of the firm, and key performance metrics.
Typically, firms focus on easy integration tactics instead of strategic issues. I’ve seen lists address press releases, getting a website bio done, IT training, mailing and other daily minutia. Those are necessary steps, but not the most important ones.
Instead, firms should get the new lateral linked up with partners and involved with strategic activities right away. The integration list should be full of meetings with client teams, orientations with different practice areas, visiting customer sites and other relationship-building sessions.
A managing partner once told me about a first day activity he worked out for a key lateral. He put the new hire into a room with a partner who had a book of business with strong cross-selling indicators. On the table was a bottle of scotch. Their instructions were to stay in the room until they outlined a plausible plan and timeline on how to double their books of business through common client needs.
Between the “locked in the room” meeting, and working on press releases and bio updates, you can probably guess which activity delivers better outcomes for the firm. Most new hires should expect to be in constant relationship-building mode throughout their starting phases, which will likely last until the firm’s initial needs are met and a continuity phase takes over.
To wrap up this series on “The Lateral Dilemma,” I’ll mention one final encouragement to keep you on the right path.
Stick with your plan. You put a lot of effort and preparation work into the whole process. You crafted the right set of expectations for the lateral and the firm. You have a good idea of what success looks like. You know you selected the right individual. Your strategic analysis and initial roadmap are done. Now it’s time to execute.
Give your plan and your people a chance to work. Be confident that using a sound, data-backed approach to guide your lateral recruitment process gives you a much better chance of avoiding the failure rates that plague those who don’t. Good luck.