Practicing Consistent Management
23 June 2017
We live in a world where everything is subject to constant change; from the way we consume media to how we recruit. Nothing remains static. However, in the legal world, there is one thing that should remain consistent: Management. If you are the partner of a company – or at the senior end of your career and responsible for a team – stability and reliability is key when it comes to leading a team of solicitors or office staff.
Think of a time (or imagine one) where you came in to the office and weren’t sure ‘what mood’ your line manager was going to be in that day. Did it make you feel productive and enthusiastic? That should be your vein of thought when it comes to conducting your day-to-day with your own staff, whether they be NQs, post-qualified solicitors or office services.
Certainly, deadlines need to be met and sometimes important projects are drafted in at the last minute, but losing your cool over it won’t get the work done any quicker. Everyone, at all stages in their career, has a bad day or a personal matter that bothers them. Those, too, should be left at the door.
There are several ways in which you can be a consistent and effective manager. Here are just some suggestions:
How you speak to your staff is so crucial – it can have more of an impact than you’ll ever know. If you have a reputation for being unclear (and getting frustrated when work isn’t completed) you may well need to work on how you communicate your expectations. Being considerate and polite when you address all members of staff is just common courtesy.
“Leave it on my desk” is not a clear and tangible deadline. If you expect work to be completed by a certain date, let your solicitors know. They are juggling several tasks at once, so having a clear deadline will make it easier for them to prioritise their caseloads. Don’t exaggerate or underplay when you need work done, either.
Your bad mood because traffic was terrible or you argued with your spouse should never make an appearance at your desk. You are paid to be a legal professional, and that is exactly how you should carry yourself at all times. This is not to say you should become an emotionless robot, but it’s important that negativity is kept as far away from the office as possible.
Treating Staff as Individuals
Everyone likes to learn and work in different ways. A good partner will be respectful of this. Some solicitors like to write everything down on heaps of paper, others prefer a few post-its and emails. How can your management style be tailored to suit this? You should encourage individuality and best practice for the individual.
Listening to Staff Needs
If you have a one-to-one or appraisal system (or, even if someone approaches you outwith these formal meetings), really listen to what your staff are telling you. Should there be more individual training or team building? Always be open to criticism. And, if you have to decline staff requests for additional learning, be respectful and explain why the request cannot go forward. Clear communication, once again, is at the heart of this.
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Written By Meena Bahanda