Summary: Simply showing your appreciation for your associates can save your firm thousands of dollars in the long run.
In today’s legal world, it is not uncommon for an associate to join a firm, learn the ropes, and then move on to a new firm two or three years later. The days where an attorney joined a firm fresh out of law school and stayed until his or her retirement seem long gone. However, training new attorneys every few years is expensive and time-consuming. How can firms boost associate loyalty?
According to LinkedIn, firms can increase the odds that their associates will stick around by simply demonstrating their appreciation for the hard work that they do.
First, associates need to feel as though they matter to a firm. Realizing they contribute a unique value to the firm, and being recognized for that value, will strengthen their sense of loyalty to the firm.
Emphasizing associates’ value will also work wonders for their health. In one study, workers who felt they were unfairly criticized by a superior, or who felt that their superiors did not listen to their concerns and worries had a 30 percent higher rate of coronary disease than those who felt that their work was appreciated.
The highest driver of engagement is a continual habit of appreciation. It is important for managing partners, section heads, and management teams to take the time to demonstrate their appreciation for the work that younger attorneys do. Such positivity will bring energy to the firm and improve workflow. After all, when employees feel underappreciated or undervalued, they may begin to worry about their job security, which hinders productivity.
For many attorneys, especially older, more established ones, openly praising or expressing appreciation to others is almost unheard of. After all, many were “thrown to the wolves” early in their careers, and had to learn how to argue in court and how to draft briefs with little assistance. Why should they praise others for what they had to learn on their own?
However, demonstrating appreciation can fuel higher-performing sustainable teams, and it can even boost the success of teams that may be underperforming.
Millennials want to experience job satisfaction, have a sense of purpose, and feel that they are making a difference in their work.
How can firms show their appreciation, then?
First, no one within the firm should be devalued. If an associate senses his or her value has been diminished, that associate may soon give notice and head across town to a new firm.
At the end of the day, think about who helped you accomplish goals, or who went out of their way to help out. Take a few minutes to thank the individuals that helped you.
Similarly, every day, take time to notice what your associates are doing well. What are their positive qualities? Perhaps your newest associate has a knack for dealing with difficult clients. Maybe another associate can find the most obscure laws to support your positions in a brief. Make sure these associates know that their talents are appreciated.
When you think about your associates’ talents, verbally express to them that they are appreciated. Instead of simply saying, “good work,” try, “Mrs. Smith was angry and upset with the status of her case this morning, from what I’ve been told. Apparently, after speaking with you, she was calmer, felt more informed, and is ready to proceed on to the next phase. Without your patience and understanding, we may have lost this client. Thank you for your hard work.”
Informal meetings are also a great idea for showing appreciation and facilitating honest communication. Listen to your associates’ concerns and make sure they know that they are heard.
A simple act like showing appreciation can work wonders for your firm. Rather than being tough on your associates, take a gentler approach and help boost their confidence by praising them for a job well done.
In addition to showing your appreciation, there are a few other steps you can take to boost your associates’ satisfaction with their work. Inc.com provides some tips.
For example, people are generally happier when they feel they have a sense of control over their lives. How can you give your associates more control over their jobs? Can you allow them to work from home an afternoon every now and then? Can you tell them it’s acceptable to let work emails that come in over the weekend wait until Monday morning?
Tight deadlines also create unnecessary stress at times. How can you help with this? For starters, try not to waste your associates’ time with lengthy meetings if you could address the issues with a simple email. Also, make sure your office is organized and efficient, as time wasted looking for files, trying to figure out who has done what on a case, or when the next court hearing is are all stressful and waste precious time.
Put the above techniques into practice, and you will certainly enjoy a positive change in your office.
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