Working from home does not just mean employees must adjust to a new work environment. It also means they must build a new skill set to nurture trust, optimize productivity, and foster a sense of community. As a leader, empowering your team is among your most important tasks and so providing them the tools needed to develop the skills just listed should sit at the very top of your to-do list. Why? Because top talent wants to perform and if you don’t provide the infrastructure needed to do so, your best players will look elsewhere for an employer that does.
Employee Empowerment in a Remote World
High achievers seek to impress, which means they respond just as well as children to the practice of encouraging behaviors you wish to see repeated. This means you not only need to notice when an employee makes an effort that lightens your load, but say so and be specific. If you see a team member taking pains to deliver their work in the precise format requested, for instance, take the time to thank them. If they are the sort of who thrives on public acknowledgment, go a step further and pass on your gratitude when colleagues are present. Not only does this boost satisfaction (which translates directly to retention), it lets everyone else in on how to stand out, too.
The Importance of What, How, and When
Empowering employees is not just a matter of encouragement, but also of teaching. After all, striving to meet expectations is frustrating without clear instruction on how to do so. One of the simplest (and most important) ways to provide such instruction is to ensure everyone knows what, how, and when tasks need to be completed. Provide detailed explanations of priorities, ensure deadlines are clear, and scissor away ambiguity wherever you find it. Letting employees in on exactly what they need to do to nurture your trust and esteem is the law firm equivalent of pitching a softball. Give a star player the chance to hit a home run and they’ll never tire of stepping up to bat.
Show, Don’t Tell
The golden rule of creative writing also applies to the world of law. The only difference is that here it doesn’t refer to the use of vivid, image-driven language, but rather to the art of teaching by example. Want your employees to submit crucial work by a specific time? Model this by responding to requests for feedback by setting a timeline and sticking to it, yourself. Don’t like being surprised by bad news at the last minute? Make a habit of communicating hurdles as soon as they come into view so that others do the same.
Not only does instituting such practices ensure your team understands expectations, it shows you respect their time and support them in working in an efficient, balanced manner. In this sense, empowering employees is more than such a productivity hack; it’s a law firm staffing hack, too. The reason? The very best want more than a salary; they want work-life balance, job satisfaction, and opportunities for growth as well.
Don’t Underestimate Understanding
Another employee empowerment tool relevant to law firm hiring and retention is understanding. Especially in present times, folks are shouldering extra stress. If a normally standout employee appears absent-minded, frenetic, or inconsistent, don’t assume they have checked out or are getting a little too comfortable working from home. Instead, offer the benefit of the doubt that they, like so many others, have much more on their mind than the task at hand. Learning to simply ask, “how can I help?” does wonders in providing a morale boost and reassuring employees that you care about more than just the bottom line.
Want to dive deeper into empowering your team? Consider Hiring and Empowering Solutions’ Team Empowerment Academy: a 12-week masterclass for turning disengaged attorneys and legal staff into fully-engaged intrapreneurs.