Help Your Firm Step Into The Future

by Affinity Consulting Group on June 26, 2018

By Erica Fujimoto, Director of Default Services, Affinity Consulting Group

Have you ever wondered how some firms have generally “happy people?”  Their employees seem content, the firm is successful and is highly regarded by their peers? Being forward-thinking is a huge part of achieving success and employee satisfaction at your law firm.

Here are some tips that can help your firm step into the future:

1. Embrace Change
It’s easy to get intimidated or overwhelmed when thinking about making changes.  People won’t like the changes.  Some people may quit.  People are creatures of habit, and they like doing things the way they have always done them.

These are all excuses we use that stop us from moving forward and making beneficial changes.  If the change is good, for the benefit of the firm, and has merit then stop getting hung up in whether people will like it and instead create a culture of people who are excited about change by promoting thought leaders, giving bonuses or perks to those who incorporate changes and are “cheerleaders” for new changes in their areas, and garner excitement for change by talking about the changes and what will be better once the change happens.

2. Be Transparent
A firm once said to me that their people were on a “need to know basis.”  The partners weren’t open to sharing anything about their decision-making process, let alone the decisions being made that might impact those same employees, and they certainly weren’t willing to share anything about the financial situation of the firm.

The more transparent you can be the more your people will trust that you have their best interests at heart, and in turn the more loyal they will be to your firm.  As with change, transparency can be scary. It is easier to not share when things aren’t going well, and sharing when things are going well might lead to dissatisfaction if people don’t see any improvement to their compensation based on the firm success.  In any event, the more people understand what the business cycle is, that there are always ups and downs in any successful business, and that success as a company doesn’t always translate into increases salaries because firms must reinvest in the business to ensure longevity and future success, the more of a stake they will have in the success of the company as a whole.

3. Be Flexible
Encourage your people to rough out their plans, but don’t require every plan to be perfect before implementing it.  Letting your people start a project or process that may only be a first draft means that they can get their hands dirty right away and see what works and what doesn’t work, rather than spending a lot of time trying to get it right on paper.  Then, as they work, they will make adjustments as needed along the way.  Agile Project Management will help your firm quickly respond to changes in customer needs and market changes.

4. Offer Non-Traditional Benefits
The idea of a 9-5 workday, Monday to Friday, business dress to the office, and smoke breaks went out the window around the same time companies stopped providing retirement plans to their employees.  To stay relevant and competitive when it comes to hiring the best people and keeping them happy, you need to offer as many non-traditional benefits as you can.

  • Flexible working arrangements in terms of hours, days of the week, working from home, etc. generally result in people who are sick less often and feel that the firm understands that although work is important, personal/family lives need to be considered as well.
  • Re-consider your PTO policy.  Firms are adopting unlimited PTO policies and finding that their people appreciate the extra flexibility, and that it is rare for people to abuse it!
  • Eliminate boring break rooms by adding bookshelves, sofas, TVs, and a fun area with a ping pong or foosball table.
  • Create a quiet separated space for those who may want to read or meditate.  Taking even a few short minutes to sit quietly and do nothing at regular intervals is proven to improve focus and productivity.

5. Focus on your Firm First
Most law firms, and most businesses for that matter, strive to put their clients first.  In order to be truly forward thinking, satisfaction internally will breed satisfaction externally by improving your employees’ attitudes and positivity, their faith and satisfaction in the firm, and ultimately their customer service and quality of their work will improve.  In short, putting your firm and your employees first will result in your clients feeling they are first as well.

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