Now, as law firms are trying to change their business radically to meet new and changing demands, there is a critical need to deliver on new business strategies and initiatives. “Employee Engagement” is where most potential lies to improve the short term performance and long term sustainability in most law firms.
The Challenge … and the Opportunity
Top management can have all the best business development plans, new service propositions, process maps, key account management or new technology in the world, but if employees don’t understand and value the part they play, efforts to implement them WILL fail. They won’t produce the results hoped for; probably missing the mark by a very long way.
We’ve seen it happen many times before, where initiatives lose momentum, detractors snipe at the advocates and everyone gets stressed out. The job may get done … eventually, but it has been much more painful than it should have been, people get worn down and the results are nowhere close to what was achievable.
Your people should be your most valuable asset. In many firms they are not.
People work more effectively if they understand their role in the business they work in and are supported effectively on projects allocated to them. Effective communication, mutual respect, collaboration and understanding what is expected of each other amongst colleagues contribute significantly to motivation.
Lawyers have never been good at finding time to engage the people around them; nor to develop the skills needed to do that effectively. Maybe that didn’t matter so much in the past. I have interviewed a lot of capable and dedicated, but seriously disenfranchised people on projects over the years – not just management and support, but lawyers too.
In the past, this failing has just made a lot of law firms more stressful – but maybe also less challenging – places to work, which was a shame, but not fatal to the business.
Going forwards it will be an obstacle to survival as others establish a new momentum, actively supported by the people working for them. Law firms stuck in old ways, unable to get people to do things differently will suffer.
Research has shown that “engagement” pays off.
- About 37% of an employee’s time in the office is wasted just because they do things that don’t make any difference; and that applies to both lawyers and support staff. That is about 14 hours per week that could be used much more productively.
- You can radically reduce this wasted time by as much as 17% to release about 7.5 hours per week to more relevant work by creating better focus on better aligned organisational goals. That might be earning fees, developing business, mentoring their team, training others …
- Clarity of Success Criteria also reduces stress and promotes focused contribution to the business aligned to corporate and individual development.
- Consistent, regular monitoring results in early identification of potential issues in either individual or organisational performance, creating the opportunity for pro-active intervention.
Why does that really matter?
If you move your practice to one where employees are “engaged” you would expect to:
- Improve the profitability of the business
- Maximise the engagement and utilisation of all resources.
- Generate effective collaboration between people, teams and departments
- Reduce stress and anxiety that derives from uncertainty
- Develop innovative improvements in internal operations and added value services
- Visibility of roles and tasks so each person knows what is expected of them and others
- Deliver projects on time and within budget
- Improve clarity, ownership and reporting of Organisational Goals.
- Facilitate Organisational and Cultural change to meet business challenges.
- Improve the engagement of staff in their own and organisational goals.
- Improve visibility of skill and resource shortfalls.
- Facilitate succession planning.
- Simplify compliance and associated reporting.
- Provide a platform management of programs and projects.
- Deliver Staff training and development including compulsory training (e.g. health and safety, diversity, fire, environment) with compliance validation
What does “Engagement” look like?
You will get the message from this thought provoking X-Model of “Engagement” video.
How to build effective engagement into the fabric of your law firm?
Making it happen is the subject of the next post on the topic of “Employee Engagement”. Please come back soon; or register on the site and we will let you know when the next update has arrived.
To find out more in the meantime about how we at Inpractice UK can help you develop and implement an effective approach to engaging your people to improve the performance of your practice, contact Allan Carton on 0161 929 8355 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.