Thoughts on ways to improve the management of professional services firms

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Professional Services - Values, Culture and Depression 6: Wrap Up

This post wraps up my arguments about the problem of depression within professional services.

The initial building blocks for the series were two posts (one, two) in my common management problems series discussing the best way of dealing with poor performers. I have treated these as building block posts because my experience suggests that at firm level depression is often dealt with as a performance problem and then mismanaged at that level.

In those posts I suggested, among other things, that it was best to deal with performance problems early before they had time to build. I also emphasised the need to clearly identify the real problem needing to be addressed. The two case studies included in the depression series show breaches of both principles.

I began the depression series on 25 April with a post reporting on the results of an Australian survey suggesting that depression was worst among professionals and students. That is, these groups had higher incidences of depressions than other groups in Australian societies.

I also noted that depression problems appeared to be worst among patent attorneys and lawyers. I suggested that depression was a problem for both individuals and firms.

In the following post I compared law and IT.

In this post I began using the subtitle "Values, Culture and Depression." I did so because firm values and culture affect the treatment of depression in a management environment and in so doing affect the depressed individual.

The reason I chose to compare law and IT is that the individual performance environment in law as compared to the more collectivist managed environment in IT does, in my view, contribute to the higher incidence of depression in law. Somewhat similar arguments can be applied across the professions.

In my next post I took Free at Last as a depression case study. I find that examples help me understand issues. I hope that this is true for you too.

Free at Last's story is in part a story of management failures. But it is also a story with a positive personal ending.

I then diverted slightly with a brief note on the story of John Brogden, a leading NSW politician. Politics is another profession marked by depression problems. As with Free at Last, John's story shows that there is hope at the end of the depression tunnel.

In the next post I extended John's story. Here I spoke of my own brush with depression. I also tried to lay down a few simple management guidelines for dealing with the problem.

I then turned in Jan's case to another case study. Here we can see again how poor management practice contributed to individual problems to the ultimate cost of the firm itself.

In this series I have tried to write from both an individual and personal viewpoint as well as from a management perspective. I hope that readers gain some value.

Posts in this Series

Precursor posts:

The Depression series:

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