Benefits of Facilitating Open Communication at Law Firms
If you want to be an inspiring leader of your law firm, then you need to take a close look at whether you’re using effective communication techniques with your team. Solid relationships among senior partners, attorneys, and legal assistants are the foundation of a successful law firm. That is why firm leaders need to take proactive steps to empower their employees to frequently collaborate with each other and their leaders to improve engagement and help everyone feel more comfortable at work. Effective communication is the key to defining your expectations, building strong relationships among team members, and maintaining a positive employee experience.
Communication & Trustbuilding
Leaders already know that building trust among their teams contributes to a thriving and productive work environment. But if your team members think their leaders aren’t doing a very good job of communicating expectations or acknowledging the value of their work, it can negatively impact their attitude and affect the quality of the work they produce.
Earning your team’s trust should be on your list of priorities, so make sure you’re cognizant of how you articulate praise for team accomplishments and how you convey your expectations regarding tasks and responsibilities. According to Harvard Business Review, employees with a high level of trust in the leaders at their companies experience 74% less stress at work. This means it’s in the best interest of firm leaders to focus on refining the methods of communication they use with their teams.
10 Ways To Improve Communication at Your Law Firm
Although technology makes it easy to talk to your team no matter where they are located, maintaining a strong sense of human engagement is necessary if you want to enhance communication and build trust with your team:
Hold “office hours”
Let your employees know that you have specific times set aside to listen to their ideas and concerns. When you meet with employees who take advantage of your office hours, really listen to what they say and provide actionable feedback that they can take away and apply. You should also ask questions about what is working and not working for them as a member of your team.
Set consistent expectations
We have already talked about the importance of expectations, but if you want to successfully maintain healthy communication in the workplace, then you need to have follow-up conversations with your team members to see for yourself if they understand your directions and how what they’re working on fits into the bigger picture. Applying the feedback, you get from one-on-one meetings, and discussions with your team is the best way to set consistent expectations and prevent frustration among your workforce.
Define the vision you have for the firm’s future
Every member of your team should know the vision you have for the future of the firm and what they can do to help achieve the specific goals you have set to get them there. When you have department meetings and performance evaluations, make use of the time by asking your subordinates if they still understand and identify with the primary purpose and core values you have established.
Publicly recognize success
Recognizing the effort and hard work your team puts in to meet a goal will keep them motivated to perform their best and urge others around them to pursue excellence. Sharing the success stories of individual team members also gives your top talent a chance to share their insights and best practices with the rest of your firm. To further establish trust, recognition should come immediately after the employee has delivered results and it should be both personal and public.
Promote collaboration and teamwork
Handing out projects and assignments that require teamwork and collaboration will increase your employee’s overall focus and strengthen their social connections. Challenge them to achieve goals that have a concrete endpoint, and you know are attainable if they work together as a team. You should also check-in occasionally to see how they are progressing and whether they’re really working as a cohesive unit or if they’re off on their own and not really adding anything to the team atmosphere.
Delegate, don’t micromanage
Micromanaging the tasks you assign will only disrupt the flow of communication and waste everyone’s time. When you delegate work to an individual or group of people, make it clear you are giving them complete ownership over executing the best strategy they see fit to achieve the goal. Instead of giving your team an exhaustive to-do list, just give them a few general pointers and let them know you’ll lend support if they ask for it.
Provide helpful context
Instead of giving orders, explain the “why” behind what you’re asking your team to accomplish. Your team isn’t going to be passionate about accomplishing a task just because you ask them to. Having a clear purpose in addition to their goals and responsibilities will help individual employees comprehend how their role impacts the firm. Empowering your employees instead of micromanaging them will also push them to go above and beyond your expectations and to come up with creative solutions to any challenges they encounter.
Give your team choices
Show your team that you trust them by allowing employees to pick which projects they’ll work on. People get excited when they can focus their energy on tasks they’re interested in or care about most. Encourage your employees to self-organize into workgroups and evaluate the overall project when it’s finished to measure each individual’s contribution.
Keep everyone in the loop
Law firm leaders need to make an honest effort to share important information across all departments. Employees want to be informed about the firm’s progress on goals, new strategies being rolled out, and updates to internal processes. If your team is uncertain about the firm’s direction, it will lead to extra stress that can severely impact their overall focus and job satisfaction. Open communication through daily reports or company-wide emails are two simple ways leaders can improve employee engagement.
Urge your employees to build relationships
Most employees feel pressured to only focus on completing their tasks, not on making friends or socializing with the people they’re working with. However, studies show that when people intentionally build social relationships with their coworkers, their performance actually improves. A different study conducted by Google also found that managers who show an interest and genuine concern for their team’s personal well-being outperform others in the quality and quantity of their work.
Developing and refining the ways you promote open communication at your firm is integral to ensuring your team is receiving valuable information that is hitting the mark. If you want the employees at your firm to feel like they have all of the tools they need to problem-solve and excel at their work, then open communication needs to be at the core of your firm’s culture and values. Popularize open and transparent communication in your workplace if you want to motivate and inspire your team.