Cleaning Up Past Messes

This week's question from my portal “The Neagle Code: Directions for Life” comes from someone who wishes to remain anonymous. 

Neagle Code Question

In the past, my law business consisted of the three of us, and some contractors. We didn’t have workflows in place and were just winging it.

Currently we have several fires that need to be put out on some of our old cases. I hired a new team, and I’m giving them new cases to work on. But it would really help if they jumped in and worked on the old stuff, so we can catch up on things.

I feel kind of embarrassed asking them to put out old fires. It makes me look disorganized. We have new workflows in place, along with new cases. We’re aiming for a spirit of excellence. But I’m embarrassed because in the past, it wasn’t quite a spirit of excellence in the business. How do I say, “Hey everybody, let’s jump in and put out all these fires”?

Neagle Code Answer

I think it’s just a simple conversation you would have with your new team.

There’s a lot of drama that you’re bringing to the table. I think it’s just a simple conversation:

You could say, “Here’s a bunch of stuff that needs to get done that’s left over from the past. We’re going to split this up between the team, and everybody’s going to take a portion, and we’re going to get this settled and get it complete.”

We’ve done this so many times in our company. We’ll hire someone and say, “Clearly we had no idea what we were doing prior to you, so now we need you to fix this.”

Don’t ever be embarrassed or ashamed. For God’s sake, none of us are perfect.

In essence, we’re all doing a bit of “building the airplane while it’s in the air” type thing.

There are things that need to be fixed from the past, from when you were bootstrapping something, or you didn’t have enough team, or you didn’t have the right systems in place, and it has to be cleaned up.

That’s just business. Every business has to deal with that to some degree.

Also, I think it’s important for your team to see that you’re empowering them to clean up the messes — and that they don’t always have to go to you for all the answers.

That instills a spirit of teamwork. Like, “Hey, you guys are great. Let’s get this cleaned up, and then let’s move on to the next thing.”


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