Often when an office is running in reactive mode, everything is last minute, late, or wrong. An office can get into the mindset of guilt or indebtedness. Knowing you’ve done wrong, you tend to acquiesce to the client to help make up for your errors, lack of answers or information or delays.

In this state, you will find that you also, have a disregard for people’s time.  In an attempt to keep up or put out fires, you may interrupt your team constantly.  If this is the case, STOP IT!

When your firm is in a reactive state, you spend your time putting out fires instead of getting work done!

This becomes a terrible cycle to get into. As a result, your team is less productive, you are frantic, there is a high stress energy in the office and ultimately, due to your delays and the hyper vigilant client… we’ve all had them… the client ends up running the project, not you! They call, you drop everything, the day has gone by, you have accomplished nothing, which then puts you into an even more reactive state!

First, understand something, Luv.  The change must start with YOU. Focus on the manner in which you conduct yourself as the CEO.  Calm assertive energy is what your aiming for. As the leader, you set the tone.  Be the change you seek.  If you walk around in a state of panic you will get more of the same.  If you are an A.D.D. addict, noone else will focus either.  If you assert a strong presence of focused productivity and a calm efficient approach to your projects, others will become more productive and focused.

Second, FIX YOUR SYSTEMS!  Fixing your systems will allow you to get a handle on timing and quality of service. As you put these systems in place, model respect for  people’s time and demonstrate respect for your own schedule as well. Clients and your team will ultimately respect you more, place a higher value on your service & product and hold your firm in higher esteem.

Simply put, fix your systems and wean yourself and others off of calling or interrupting constantly for instant gratification.

With new clients, establish your work style from the beginning.  Always model respect for their time by having your phone meetings with them scheduled ahead of time by your office manager.
You demonstrate a respect for their time and expect it for yourself as well.  Consciously or not, most clients, and employees will follow your lead.  Be in control of your time and your schedule and others will do the same in working with you.

Set reasonable boundaries with overly demanding clients.  Balance the line of flexibility and firm demonstration of respect.  Thus you establish a non-frantic working method and are perceived as being more in control and worthy of more clout. (We’ll talk more about hyper-vigilant clients later.)
Within a few months, if done consistently, you will find that you, your team and your clients relate on a higher level and honor each others’ time. When you run a proactive firm, your life is easier, your service is impeccable and your clients are in awe of your brilliance. It’s a beautiful thing.

We will be working the steps toward creating a proactive vs. reactive interior design firm. Recommendation #2 on the topic will come next.

In the meantime, this is your homework:

Begin to honor your time and others’ time more consciously.
Pay attention.
How often do you interrupt others?
How often you you get interrupted?
Increase your awareness of the reactive state of your design firm.
How often are you reacting versus being the proactive leader sagaciously propelling everyone else forward?
Above all, know thy self.  The first step in any transformation is awareness.

– J. Molloy

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