Last week I ran one of these popular training sessions for the PM Forum ( At the outset, I asked the delegates what it was that they wanted to change or achieve. It’s no surprise, but sad nonetheless, that the things that they wanted to change sounded depressingly familiar:

To feel as if I have achieved something at the end of my usually busy days responding to fee-earner requests and crises

To be able to say “No” when fee-earners make unreasonable or inappropriate demands for help

To develop my confidence so that I can stand my ground occasionally

To be treated with respect and have my opinions and advice heard once in a while

To be able to stay calm when every day is a relentless stream of crises from fee-earners who haven’t done what they said they would or who failed to respond within the requested timeframe

To be able to focus on some of the important projects and priorities I have been assigned

To have a better relationship with the partners

To be able to stop fire-fighting sometimes

We had a great morning looking at lots of techniques that they might try – and considering the importance of how they perceive themselves and how others perceive them. There was lots of discussion and sharing of ideas and everyone perked up and became more motivated and excited as the session continued. Just before they left, I asked what they had found most useful. The responses were amazingly varied and included:

  • Using mindmaps to scope out an issue and gain input from others
  • Paying attention to how others perceive them and how they perceive and label others
  • Setting aside some time each day to tackle one thing they see as important
  • Focussing on the outcomes and outputs rather than the inputs (see the previous blogs on time management)
  • Deploying some of the many time management techniques discussed
  • Modifying the message and the medium depending on the different fee-earner audiences
  • Occasionally requesting time to think about something by saying “I’ll get back to you on that”
  • Listening more carefully to what fee-earners are hoping to achieve
  • Asking more questions about the aims and expectations so that relevant alternatives might be offered
  • Learning more about the firm’s and different team’s business plans and aims so that marketing aims and activities can be more closely aligned