How Law Firms Can Help Attorneys Build Resilience
There are many things Law Firms can do to build a positive environment and cultivate resilience. The overall goal is to remove obstacles and to build a structural support system that enables growth and pathways to success. This effort to cultivate resilience can start from the very first day a lawyer starts working at your firm and proceed throughout his/her career. Here are a few strategies you can try on new attorney during their on boarding and throughout their legal career:
Enrich On-boarding Programs. Poor on-boarding accounts for a high number in turnovers. Avoid bombarding a new attorney with countless forms, talk of policy and some IT training. While you need to convey firm values and give attorneys a formal introduction to their role, it can also be a good idea to avoid being one-sided. According to a significant survey form MIT Sloan, you get to know your attorney with questions that will bring out their strengths.1 For example, you can ask them what work style allows them to be the happiest and most productive. The research also showed that this approach has led to increased engagement and retention.
Expand Control and Autonomy. In the workplace control has two factors: opportunities to use one’s skills and the authority to make decisions. “High strain” can easily occur when attorneys experience high demands and low control. Ongoing high strain can lead to depression. Research has identified five manager behaviors as most effective at cultivating followers’ sense of autonomy in order of importance. 2 Among them are avoiding controlling or bossy language and tailoring motivation strategies by relying on an individual’s interests, preferences, perceived competence, and a sense of valuing their work.
The few additional moments it takes to support autonomy conveys respect to the attorney. It can be worth the potential payoff in motivation, attorney well-being and loyalty.
Frame Work as Meaningful. Everyone likes to receive praise for their hard work. Use every opportunity to reinforce the significance of lawyers’ daily work. When attorneys feel that their work is unimportant or futile, it can lead to a significant drop in productivity and motivation, which can lead to a feeling over stressed and maybe even depressed.
Change takes time. Taking small steps, can foster a culture that is rewarding to both attorneys and the firm. A happy lawyer will be more productive and will serve your clients more effectively than one that is depressed from working in a toxic environment.