Episode 213 — A-Player Attractors: Live from the Game Changers Summit
No organization can reach its full potential without building a strong team. Four law firm owners who know this well took the stage at the 2023 Game Changers Summit to share their experiences attracting A-players, engaging them in the long term, and leveraging the power of team to accelerate their business growth.
In this episode of The Game Changing Attorney Podcast — specially hosted by Crisp Head of Coaching Strategy Jessica Mogill — you’ll get an inside look at their conversation.
Get ready to hear from:
- Rex Elliott, Co-Founder of Cooper Elliott
- Anna Summersett, Partner at Varghese Summersett
- Josh Nelson, Partner at Nelson Elder Care Law
- Alexander Shunnarah, CEO of Alexander Shunnarah Trial Attorneys
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The secret to retention – Anna Summersett. “What Crisp taught us is not just about using the hiring funnel and finding the right people, but doing what it takes to retain them. So we’re very intentional about those first 90 days. We are very quick to fire if it does not appear that there’s a good culture fit. But once there is a good culture fit, and we have trained that person, and we have brought them into the fold, we’re going to do what it takes to make sure that they succeed in the industry and within our company — and sometimes that looks like a pivot. They may just not be in the right seat. So we’ve been able to take our A-players and say, ‘If this isn’t your goal, what is it? And how do we get you there?’ And that’s kept him around.”
What makes an A+ team member – Alexander Shunnarah. “Someone like myself. I’m someone who has the passion, the energy, the drive. They want it. They’re motivated. There are some days I’m not motivated, but I think of Michael. I know he’s up at four o’clock already in the morning and he’s doing his stuff, and you have to find that type of motivation. But it’s people who just really love their art, their craft, their skill. They’re trying to get better. They’re teachable. They’re just good people.”
Culture is key – Josh Nelson. “I think getting the culture right is probably the most important part. You can really change a lot of the skills. You can change people’s knowledge base. But you really have to make sure it’s a good cultural fit, because you have to have that team, and if they can’t work well with the team, they’re not going to stick around. I don’t have the same success Anna has with keeping people forever unfortunately, but as we’ve really started hiring and firing more on culture, that’s been the trend that has built a way stronger team than we’ve ever had before.”
Avoid panic hires – Rex Elliott. “We kind of faced a crossroads about five or six years ago, and the first thing that we had to do was stop doing all the things that we were doing wrong, one of which was panic hires. We’d hire people as soon as we needed them, and that always led to getting somebody that we didn’t want to have in there. It was just a terrible cycle.”
Don’t be afraid to push your people – Alexander Shunnarah. “Each one of your thoroughbreds is not a robot. Figure out who that person is and learn how to speak to them in their own language. What motivates this one won’t motivate that one. But when they know that you care, you’re there with them, you’re open to ideas, you still accept them for who they are, but you push them. We all need pushing. That’s just life. We need pushing. They’re having a bad day? You push them. You motivate them.”
Replace yourself to free yourself – Anna Summersett. “Even if I think I’m the best at something, finding someone who can take over even part of what I do and do it 80 percent as well is still going to be beneficial for me. That is still going to be revenue-generating because it’s time-generating. I now have freed up all of that time to pivot toward something that really needs my undivided attention.”
Set your new hires up for success – Josh Nelson. “We have a 60-day onboarding plan.
We use a lot of the stuff from Joey Coleman’s book about sending a video from me to new hires, making sure that when they come in, their desk has their favorite candy, a little gift card, maybe whatever their favorite Starbucks drink is, but then following up with them every week for those first 60 days to make sure that they’re making the progress that we want — and that also helps us determine whether or not they’re the right people. Those are the milestones that you get some visibility to weed out the people that you’re testing didn’t find, but to get the buy-in for the people is that real 60-day plan. Some positions have 120-day onboarding now, and we’re continuing to grow that trying to turn it into a real year-long process.”
Overcoming challenges that come with hiring a C-suite – Rex Elliott. “When you bring somebody in — like we just hired our COO — you can’t let him come in and just blow everything up. He’s got to feel it out a little bit, build relationships, and understand who people are. We work really hard on allowing our people to grow, and sometimes that means putting them in uncomfortable positions. We do a lot of our marketing through national publicity in our cases, and I don’t hesitate to put one of my young lawyers in front of the camera, even if they’re nervous about it. It helps them grow. And that’s a role that I think our COO is going to be able to fill a little better than I can in the future. So I think we’ve avoided the challenges and the struggles by, when somebody comes in like that, taking it nice and slow, surveying the lay of the land before you jump in and start making changes.”