In today’s episode, Jim and Tyson chat with one another about the differences between micromanagement and management. They dive into the journey of what managing is, what it isn’t, and if promoting your team members is the right way to go. If you’ve been looking for a way to better understand if your team members are suitable for a different role within your firm or if hiring externally might be the better option, check out this episode.
2:06 four day work week
5:41 management is hard
9:01 have planning in place
13:51 oh, we’re lawyers
17:09 internal hiring
21:41 little kid, little problems, big kid, big problems
Jim’s Hack: When someone wants to try something new, and your inclination is to say no, you might think about counting to 10 before saying no and vice versa.
Tyson’s Tip: As a personal injury firm, we have replaced our medical team with YoCierge. It’s a record-requested service that integrates well with Filevine. This business decision will save our firm about $150,000 a year. It’s definitely a game-changer!
Watch the podcast here.
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Jim: Welcome back to The Maximum Lawyer Podcast. I’m Jim Hacking.
Tyson: And I’m Tyson Mutrux. What’s up, Jimmy?
Jim: Well, we have a solo show today. It’s just you and I. I’m very excited about that. I haven’t talked to you one‑on‑one in a while. How have you been?
Tyson: I have been really well. It’s been really, really busy. I had two motions to dismiss and a motion for summary judgment to respond to this week so that’s, you know, a lot of fun. So, yeah. What about you?
Jim: That reminds me of one of my favorite things, which I just told my lawsuit team, which is something my good friend and mentor, Dan McMichael, said to me so long ago. And I’ve said it to you many times. And that is, delay is the lifeblood of the defense attorney’s existence.
And we have a lawsuit that we filed in the Central District of Illinois. And when you sue USCIS, you have to also sue the local US attorney. And, of course, we did what we always do, we checked with the clerk of court what’s the official address of the US Attorney in the Central District of Illinois. They said, blah, blah, blah, first floor. And the US attorney called us back and said, “Hahaha! You didn’t serve us correctly. We’re on the third floor.”
Tyson: Oh, my gosh.
Jim: So, we actually followed the federal rule, got the information from the court clerk, which is where the US Attorney’s supposed to post it. And then they went ahead and now they’re making us re‑serve them. So, I feel your pain having to go argue all those motions to dismiss and motions for summary judgment.
Tyson: Yeah. Luckily, I didn’t have to prepare 90% of ‘em. So, it’s mostly me going through ‘em, and reviewing them, and then editing them. So, I’ve got to give my team some credit, so. But it’s still at work. It’s stressful, too, but.
So, we started to chat a little bit before we got on. We started our four‑day work week on Monday. And it’s an interesting process. So, today, I’m working from home. So, it’s an off day for me but I’m working from home but it’s pretty cool. You know, people seem to really like it so far. We’re really early on. We’re dealing with–
I mean, you do come up with like some issues as you implement something like this – phone issues which we normally have a bunch of coverage. There is less coverage on the phone. So, we, you know, figure out little things. We’ll probably tweak it next month a little bit but it’s been an interesting thing.
It’s nice to be able to not go into the office. It’s kind of– I don’t know. It’s a good feeling. I mean, I got up like I was going to work and everything. I took the kids to school and came back. And, now, I’m, you know, hang out at home. It’s cool.
Jim: I’m going to go on social and tell everyone I know to call your law firm to see what happens.
Tyson: Well, I’d be– I mean, it’d be fine but it’s still– it’s like one of the things where we’re like figuring out phone schedules and, you know– we didn’t have some things figured out when it comes to lunch breaks and all that and we’ve tweaked it. So, if you did it right now, it would probably be fine but Monday was a little bit of a mess.
Jim: So, what’s the schedule? When do people work and what’s different?
Tyson: So, they had to be there– it’s a rotating schedule, so it rotates every month. So, they have the same schedule every month. Wednesdays are meeting days. So, we used to have meeting days on Fridays. That was then moved to Wednesdays. So, everyone is in the office on Wednesday’s. So, the only days that people are off are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. And then it rotates.
And it’s really nice because, for two months straight, you get a three‑day weekend. So, if your first– if this month, you’re off on a Friday, next month, you’ll be off on a Monday. And then, it rotates to Tuesday, then Thursday, and a Friday. Then, it keeps rotating over and over again.
They have to work between the hours of 8:30 and 5:00. That’s the requirement. So, you can shift your schedule, however you need it to, to get your 10 hours in for that day, but you need to be there between the hours of 8:30 and 5:00 so that, you know, we can work as a team. So, you can’t work from like noon to 10:00 p.m. You can’t do things like that because that would leave us short in the morning.
So, it’s an experiment. You know, we’re doing this as a trial period. We will fully adopt it, if it works out well. And I think it will. People really like the day off. The feedback we’ve already gotten and it’s only been a few days in but it’s been really great. They really enjoy having that other day to personal things that you can’t do during the weekend. So, that part’s pretty cool.
Jim: Are they working longer days on the days they are working?
Tyson: Yeah. So that’s a good question.
So, some companies will do a four‑day workweek and they won’t change it. They’ll do eight hours, but we’re doing four 10’s. So, you’re still doing 40 hours. It’s just four 10’s.
One of the things I did not think of, when we first implemented the schedule, was holiday week. So, on holiday weeks, we’ll do four eighth’s as opposed to four 10’s. And I had scheduled, on those weeks, that everybody’s just– we’re just full capacity for those four days what we are actually working. And I was like, “Well, that’s not really that fair” because then they’re still working 40 hours. They have a day off. So, we adjusted a little bit. We’ll probably adjust a few more times over the next few months.
Well, let’s get to our topic today. So, here’s what I want to talk about. And I think this will be helpful. You know, you and I are always trying to flesh out concepts that we talk about in Maximum Law in Minimum Time. And this particular topic, I think, help with stage two firms, stage three firms, and stage four firms. And that is micromanagement versus management. And I am familiar with a law firm, which shall remain unnamed, in which there is a whole lot of micromanaging going on but not a lot of management.
And I think management is hard. I think management is hard, especially if, like me, you were an arts and science major, you didn’t have a lot of experience. Now. I was a manager, you know, I was the editor‑in‑chief of The Law Journal, so I sort of managed some people there. But, generally, I think most lawyers don’t have a lot of experience in management.
Now, of course, Ryan McKeen. You know, he came up through enterprise and he probably had a fantastic model on how to manage people. But I think that management so often devolves into either the lawyer just doing it themselves, or getting mad because it’s not being done the way they want it because they haven’t systematized it, or they’re just, you know, running around having all these conversations, and the people that are working for them feel a sort of whiplash because a problem arises, leadership says, “Let’s fix that problem,” which is a noble pursuit. They come up with a solution. They try to implement it quickly. And then, two weeks later, a different problem arises and a new solution arises. And we go through the same cycle again and again. So, I think that that’s sort of what I what I wanted to talk to you about today is sort of this clear definitions between management and micromanagement
Tyson: Interesting. This reminds me of a conversation I was having with Tracy, one of our attorneys, the other day. And we were talking about a client, but we–
It also kind of got into law firm owners, too. The are like certain people that will just do everything they can to sabotage their success and they’re not doing it– they’re doing it, whenever they’re doing– taking these actions or doing it because they think that that’s what’s best for them. In reality, what’s happening is by them being so overbearing, they’re hurting themselves.
It came up when it comes to like clients like they want to control the case, right? They want to control the case. But whenever they control the case, they won’t make the right decisions, right? They will make all the wrong decisions but they want control. And we have to kind of break them of that.
The same thing happens with law firms. They want to have all this control. And what happens is they’re just strangling their firm. They’re just absolutely strangling ‘em.
And with what you said, though, I think that’s just a lack of planning. I wouldn’t really call that micromanagement when it comes to, you know, changing things every couple of weeks. I just think that’s poor planning. But that’s also part of management, too.
And the reason why you see a lot of this strangling – this micromanagement or throttling of the firm is because there is lack of planning. I mean, you have to have those plans. We talked about these, you know, goal setting and you do EOS. We do scaling up.
And when you have these plans in place, you’ve reduced that micromanagement because it’s not like you’re saying, “Okay, here’s the plan and you must do every single thing in this order.” No. You’re saying, “Here’s the plan. Here’s our goals. Here’s your job and you’ve got to go take care of this goal. Here’s your job. Here, you go take care of this goal and you go fulfill it.” And you let them go do their job, right? You let them go do their job. You don’t pick every single detail of that job for them to do and make them do it a certain way. That’s just not how it works, so.
I do like this topic quite a bit. Whenever you proposed it, I was like, “Yeah, that’s actually a really cool topic.” But I think a lot of it just comes down to planning, Jimbo. I think it really does. If you have the planning in place, you don’t have to worry about the micromanagement.
Jim: I think though that, when people get promoted, they remember the jobs that they used to have. And it’s more comfortable. And, frankly, I think the systems are built out more for the job you used to have than maybe the job you’ve been promoted to. In other words, we’re not actually training people on how to be a manager. We’re just training them how to be glorified versions of their former self.
What I mean by that is like– okay, here’s an example. We built out the system for people to keep track of their time in FileVine. And one of the case managers noticed that their team wasn’t keeping track of her time, but she didn’t like sound the alarm bell or tell us, and just kept going. So, we lost like two months of data because people weren’t keeping track of their time. So, clearly, we didn’t have a system for managing whether or not people are tracking their time. And this particular case manager often slides back into her former role of paralegal.
So, I think that, like, we’ve built really good systems on how to do tasks, but it feels like we haven’t built systems on how to be a good manager. And we haven’t had enough training on how to be a good manager.
Tyson: Yeah, it’s a really interesting conversation. I love this conversation because I was– I’m trying to remember what book I was reading, but they were talking about how what we’ll do is, owners of companies, we will promote people for the sake of promoting them. And then, we promote them into these roles that they’re completely not qualified for. And you can–
Like, for example, it was a podcast, actually, I was listening to. It was– Freakonomics, I think, it was what it was. Freakonomics Radio, their podcast. And they were talking about how what happens is, it doesn’t matter if it’s a software engineer, or a lawyer, or whatever it is. We just promote them, right? And then what happens is, they’re the absolute worst person to promote. They are the last person, but we do it just because, “Okay, that’s what you do,” right? That’s just the thing that you do. You push– but, if you’re going to do that (1) it may not be the right thing for them, like you really need to ask them, “Like what is your goal? Like what’s going to fulfill you?” And management is usually not who’s going to fulfill that person. It really isn’t. And, usually, they just want money. That’s a big part. They want to be compensated more and that’s why you promote them in that position. You make them a manager.
But, if you’re going to do that though, I mean, you have to send them through some sort of management training whether that’s virtual, whether that’s in‑person. I mean, do you ever do any of that? Have you ever sent people to management training? Because we’ve done it and I think it’s a really important thing that you do. I mean, is that something you all do?
Jim: No, we haven’t. And we should.
And I would say that it’s not even so much that we just promote people to give them a new title, or we’re promoting them because we look around and we say, “Hey, we need some supervisors. We need some mid‑level people.” But there probably isn’t enough planning of it. And there probably isn’t enough, “Is this what you really want? And is this the right person?”
Like, we had my sister over. So, my sister had her birthday and Noor’s birthday is on Sunday, so we celebrated both of them last night. And Carrie has worked most of her career for like big pharmaceutical drug companies, right? And she’s like, I don’t know, six levels up from a sales rep, right? And she rose through the ranks and everything.
And so, you know, she’s always telling me all this, like management stuff, like it makes me almost think, Tyson, that I need someone who’s had the experience in a bigger organization than the people who organically grew up with us. Like, I need someone who can look around and say, “Hey, this is how we used to do it over there” and try to help bring that over here because I don’t want to say it this way because it’s too harsh, but it’s almost like the blind leading the blind, right? It’s like, we don’t know what we don’t know. It’s all the best of intentions. It’s all the best of wanting the best for everybody. And it’s all of– because we recognize rockstar people and think they can do stuff. But I just don’t know that we’re properly empowering them to actually do it.
Tyson: This has been somewhat hard for my people to digest, but we’re shifting to this executive model. So, we’re CEO, COO, CMO, CFO. Like, so that is– I’m hoping, in the next couple of years, we have all those positions filled, right? Those are not cheap positions, that’s when they’re not filled yet, but we are moving to fill those.
And it is funny, I actually wrote this down, like the way it used to be. You were talking about that before. That has been like a fight, you know, because– and my response to them is I say, “Hey, I do not have the expertise to get us to that next level.” I mean, that’s just a really an honest comment, right? I do not have that expertise to get us to that $10 million place, right? I want to be at that $10 million place and above that, right? That’s where I want to be. And I just do not have that expertise. So, I 100% agree with you. And I do not know what industries we are going to target for that because I do think going outside of the legal industry is probably a good idea to fill those COO and the CFO roles. I think that’s really, really important.
So, all that to say is I completely agree with you. And I think you’re 100% right. And I think sometimes, as lawyers, we think, “Oh, we’re lawyers. Right? We’re lawyers. We’re smart. We can figure this out.”
And, you know what, maybe you can in 30 years or what you can do is you can spend some extra money. You can hire someone that’s already trained for it and they can hit the ground running as soon as they enter your firm. And they’re going to make some big changes to your firm because they know things that you’ve never even heard of but it’s something that, if you want to take it to the next level, you need to bring in that external knowledge to make those changes.
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Jim: You’re listening to The Maximum Lawyer Podcast. It’s just Tyson and I today. And Tyson’s talking about all the ways he screwed up his law firm [laughter].
To the point that you just made, Tyson, you know, I used to shake my head or scratch my head wondering about these companies where a startup founder eventually got the boot from the board and I was like, “Man, that really sucks” or they stepped down because they’re wise enough to see that the person, i.e. me, who got us to this level might not be the best person to get us to the next level.
So, obviously, there’s a huge level of humility that comes in with this like to sort of admit that, you know, like for us, like, we’ve really tried really hard to fix this sort of sense of overwhelm that the team has like. And we’ve come up with case managers. We’ve come up with admin’s. Like we’ve given all the paralegals their own virtual admin. We’ve tried, literally, everything. We’ve switched to work from home on Tuesdays and Thursdays. And Adela says it all just comes down to asking for 60 hours of work in 40 hours’ time. I don’t know that it’s that simple. I think that’s part of it, but I think that we have a lot of work to do. And I’m actually sort of excited about it, but I feel sort of bad about it, too. It’s sort of a strange dynamic.
Tyson: Well, you’re in that phase where you’re trying to get from one phase to the next. I think that’s where you are. That’s the stuff.
Something that we’re kind of struggling with is the internal hiring. And this relates back to what we were just talking about when it comes like promoting people. So, something that we’re struggling with is we’ve just promoted one person from one role– from case manager role over into the cares team. And then, we’ve got two people in our firm that are interviewing for our new office administrator position that we’ve created.
And just to give you some backstory, our director of operations moved her into the cares team director which left that position open. We’re shifting to the executive model so we have the COO. The office administrator will be under the COO is how that’s going to work. So that’s why it’s a new position. We changed titles and moved roles around, so. But there are two people in the firm that want this office administrator role. One of the employees is already offended that someone else was hired over her for one role. So, now, we now have two people for one role and we’re hiring people externally, too.
So, dealing with hurt feelings is part of this, too, as you begin to grow because I can’t create multiples. I love the face you’re making. It’s a tough– it’s one of things. It’s a tough thing you’ve got to do. But if you’re going to grow, you’ve got to make some of those tough decisions. So that’s something that we’re dealing with now. If you have any advice on that, I would love to hear it.
Jim: Well, that’s a great segue to sort of one of the points I wanted to make is that, you know, I learned a lot from Dan Sullivan in Strategic Coach, I’ve learned a lot listening to his podcast. And, you know, what we ultimately come down to is unique ability. Like, if you can really find out what each person’s unique ability is with their Colby, what their strengths are, and where they find their energy – if you can combine those two things.
When I was coaching couple of different people, here’s what I would say is that– and this is what I said to Amany and Adela yesterday is like, “We have a blank canvas. We always have a blank canvas. We can create whatever it is that we want. And there’s enough to do around here that, if we all agree with the person that this is your unique ability, this is your unique skill set, and this is what you like to do, and this is what we have a need for, that there should be a place for you here just because there’s so much to do.” So, if I had a person with those hurt feelings, I would encourage them to think about, you know, maybe developing some new skills, maybe thinking about what they’re really, really good at and optimizing that and maximizing that, and trying to get them into that position.
But, yeah, for sure, internal strife when you promote people. This is another thing when you’re moving from stage three to stage four. I mean, I think you and I are going through a lot of the same things as we’re sort of going to this next level of growth. And it’s fun. It’s fun and interesting but it’s also hard.
Tyson: I sometimes joke it is– it would be far easier for me. It really would if I just said, “I’m taking my best cases. I’ll take one or two assistants. And I’m just going to go home and work from home.” Like it would be way easier, right? But it doesn’t fit with my vision.
It’s funny. It’s just different problem.
I know it’d be easier now because I know what mistakes I made before whenever I was that size firm. It would be, but it just doesn’t fit with my vision, so.
So, yeah. We are going through those pains.
You and I are– we aren’t experts on everything, right? We’ve learned a hell of a lot over the last five or six years, but we’re still learning. And I think we should always be learning.
That’s something that, as a pilot, I’ve been learning is you’re always learning. Every single time you fly, you’re always learning. Every single time you do it, you go to work, you’re always learning because, if you stop learning, you then become that stuck lawyer, right? You become that stuck lawyer that is– it’s that overbearing micromanager is what you become because you’re always right and no one else is right, so.
Jim: How old is your law firm?
Tyson: Well, which version of it?
Jim: When you started on your own. I just consider that other part just a blip but when you started. When did you start?
Tyson: 2010. So, it is 12 years old is what it is. 2011. I’m sorry. 2011 is when I started, so, it’s 11 years old.
Jim: How old is Jackson?
Tyson: Jackson is 11 years old.
Jim: Is Jackson starting to have sort of real‑world experiences that are different than Hudson’s?
Tyson: Ooh. Oh, definitely. I mean, they’re– Yeah.
That’s an interesting question. I hadn’t thought about that.
Yeah, definitely. I mean, I’m definitely around more than– and not that I was completely absent but I will say like I am more at home and with the kids more than what whenever he was a baby.
Jim: That’s not what I mean.
Jim: What I mean is like right now Hudson’s dealing with 11‑year‑old boy trouble– boy issues and Hudson is dealing with, what, five or six?
Tyson: Yes. Yeah, six. Five, almost six.
Jim: Yeah. You’ll see that, you know, as you grow, it’s a lot like– like Amany’s mom always said, “Little kid, little problems. Big kid, big problem.” It’s like, a friend of mine has a daughter Noor’s age and the mom just put on Facebook, “I’m so done with middle school.” Like, so we’re 15, so like I’m a freshman in high school. And I really think that’s an interesting way to think about it because there’s different things when you’re a freshman in high school than when you’re in fifth grade.
So, I feel like, as a firm, you know, if you’re doing the right things, then you’re growing. If you’re not stagnant, you’re going to go through these growing pains, and you’re going to have growth spurts. And then, you’re going to have rest, and growth spurts, and rest. And two steps forward, one step back, and all that stuff.
Tyson: I was wondering how you’re going to connect that. That makes sense.
No, yeah. So, it’s– I mean, you’re looking at– You’ve got Jackson. You’ve got Em in the middle. And then, you’ve got Hudson. And they’re all at different stages. And you’re completely right.
And that’s a great way of putting it, Jim. It’s kind of like a law firm, right? You’ve got these different stages of growth. Same thing when it comes to raising kids.
Tyson: Funny. I almost forgot how to wrap these things that when it’s just the two of us. So, you and I are trying something new today. We’re recording all of our episodes on one day which is kind of a cool thing. I’m hoping this works out.
But I want to remind everyone, go to the Facebook group. Join us there. There’s a lot of great people in that group. A lot of great information being shared. If you want I’d say a more high level conversation, if you want to have some insider presentations, if you want to get in– we have a recent back‑to‑back where we, you know, talk big picture stuff in the big group and then we’d go into the more of the detailed stuff in The Guild. So, if you want to get involved in that, join us in The Guild, maxlawguild.com.
Time is running out for the conference so make sure you get your tickets, maxlawcon2022.com. If you can get your tickets by the time you listen to this because we are very, very close to selling out on that.
And if you don’t mind, while you’re listening to the rest of this episode, give us a five‑star review. We would greatly appreciate it.
Jimmy, what’s your hack of the week?
Jim: So, you and I were both sort of in a race to re‑watch Breaking Bad. And then, I kept going and re‑watched Better Call Saul. And the real treat for me, this time, watching Better Call Saul, is I would listen to the podcast for most episodes after I watched ‘em, so it really is a masterclass in filmmaking, and storytelling, and all this stuff. I really, really enjoyed it.
And Vince Gilligan, who’s one of the two creators of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, he’s on almost every episode. And I was listening to an episode from this sixth season that just dropped and they were talking about making a really difficult camera shot. And the director of photography came up and propose this to him and he said– now, here’s a tip for all you young filmmakers out there, if someone wants to try something– here’s what he said, “Count to 10 before you say no. Count to 10 before you say no.” And he’s really glad he didn’t say no because it turned out to be the signature shot of, I think, it was episode two of Better Call Saul season six.
And so, I think that’s a great lesson for us that, when someone wants to try something new, and especially if you know that your general inclination is to say no, you might think about taking a count of 10 before saying no. And perhaps, if you’re someone like me, who’s very quick to say yes, you might want to count to 10 before you say yes because you never know what’s going to end up on the other side. So, play around with that a little bit. I think it’s an interesting hack and I thought I would share it with you today.
Tyson: I think that that’s fantastic. So, that’s really good.
I will– as someone who– this is– I’ve been saying, this is the year of no for me – saying no to things. I’ve not been perfect at it but been alright. So, very good.
All right. So, I have been holding off on endorsing this product because I wanted to test it out first. It’s something that Ryan McKeen had recommended to me. And it’s for injury lawyers. And I will tell you it is– Jim, it’s going to save us about $150,000 a year.
So, we have replaced our medical team. And with YoCierge is a records‑requesting service. And it integrates perfectly with FileVine. And what they do is they actually put the records into FileVine for you, too. So, it’s like a seamless integration. It is fantastic. I highly recommended for injury lawyers. It’s one of those things I would call a game changer. And I don’t like using that phrase but that’s one of those ones that is, so I highly recommend it.
Jim: That’s one of the biggest pain points for PI lawyers. So, if they’ve pulled that off, I mean, (1) kudos to FileVine for making the integration seamless and (2) I mean, that’s something that I know you’ve pulled your hair out for years.
Tyson: Yeah. And we–
I mean, here’s the thing. You’ve got to talk about sunk costs. And this is a bonus tip, right? I’ve spent a lot of money when it comes to medical team, building out automations, all that when it comes to the medical request. And we are really good at it but, financially, it made no sense to keep doing it. So, you’ve just got to pull the plug on some of these things.
So, sunk costs. They’re sunk costs. You’re not going to get that money back. It’s gone. It’s forever gone. It doesn’t matter that you spent that money.
So, we made a really tough decision. And we made the smart financial decision – the smart business decision to go with the YoCierge and I’m really happy with that choice. So, yeah.
All right, Jimbo. Great episode. Had fun talking to you. And we have more to go today. So, I think we have another five to go, so I’m excited. So, see you, bud.
Jim: See you, buddy.