Small law firms are investing more than ever in employee training and development, seeking to better engage their employees and keep them invested in their jobs for the long-term. Don’t get us wrong, employee training and development is hugely important to any small or solo law practice. But we see it time and time again: law firm leadership identifies a learning opportunity or behavioral problem and thinks that investing in an employee training and development program will offer an immediate solution.
But an employee training and development program is only as effective as a law firm’s leadership. If your firm’s leadership has not clarified which groups and individuals are responsible for making certain decisions, they are negating your training efforts. If authority has been delegated in a silo—and only at the very tippity-top of that silo—you are impeding your own team training efforts. If you have not outlined a measurable way to hold your employees accountable for decision-making, then you are standing in your own way. And you need to step aside.
Employee training and development is a highly-effective solution for a lot of traditional business problems: it helps keep balls in the air rather than constantly dropping; it snuffs out office drama; it streamlines operations and keeps your firm running like a well-oiled machine; it draws out each employee’s superpowers; and it empowers your employees to step up and lead rather than await orders and execute as dictated.
But if, at the core of your firm, you’re not meeting these three requirements, there isn’t a training and development program in the world that could help you:
1. An internal system that is aligned with your training & development goals. So, you want your team to feel more ownership of the firm and its performance—you want them to make confident decisions and run with their intrepreneurial ideas. But is your firm structured in a way that enables this level of employee empowerment? Or do you have a managerially “tall” organization, where each layer of leadership is required to approve decisions? Is access to important information limited to certain members of your leadership team? If employees keep running into red tape and feel that they need to ask permission to make even the tiniest decision, how can they be empowered to become leaders?
2. Leaders who are 100% committed to making positive changes at your firm. You’ve taken the first step and figured out the root cause of dysfunction at your firm. Now, are your leaders willing to make changes that solve internal problems and open the doors to an effective employee training and development program? If leaders aren’t ready to relinquish control of your firm’s decision-making processes and trust that their newly-empowered team would be capable of calling the shots, then training and development efforts will be moot.
3. Find solutions, not bandaids. There is the case of one particular firm leader whose team kept reporting back to her that they were stressed out and overworked. With the best of intentions, she rolled out a mindfulness workshop at her firm. This would reduce stress, right? But even though her team reported back that the mindfulness workshop was “interesting”…it still didn’t reduce their stress. The problem is that, to reduce stress, the root cause of that stress needs to be addressed. The mindfulness workshop was just a bandaid—not a long-term solution.
Implementing an employee training and development program under the wrong conditions is a waste of time and money. If you’re unsure about the conditions at your law firm, we’d love the opportunity to connect and assess your situation. Depending on where you are, our Team Empowerment Solution might be the perfect fit for your firm’s leadership and employees alike. Schedule a free discovery session with Molly and find out if your firm is ready to empower its employees and equip them with the tools they need to grow your business.