Investing in top legal talent, but failing to create a law firm culture that inspires commitment and loyalty is like building a luxury vehicle with low-grade seats. It may look attractive on the outside, it may have the power to master the highway, but few buyers hold on to it. Last month we discussed the key elements of discovering, engaging, and hiring top legal talent. Today we will talk about retaining that talent – via your law firm’s culture. Fostering a vibrant, relationship-building culture is the luxury seat in your firm. It’s the key element that inspires your talent to “hang on” rather than “move on.”
7 Essential Keys for a Winning Culture
Attorneys aren’t merely gears in the office machine. They’re real people – people with passions, goals, dreams, families. Each with their unique characteristics. John isn’t Alice, Alice isn’t Malcolm, and Malcolm certainly isn’t Alyssa. Recognize and value each employee for their expertise, of course, but also for their personality, work style, and soft skills.
In addition to valuing employees as individuals, go for diversity. We’re not simply referring to hiring women, minorities, orientation, etc. Build a well-rounded, positive culture by encouraging social harmony. Encourage a diversity of ideas and philosophies, as well as personalities, skills, and expertise. Foster an attitude of respect and appreciation for these differences. We live in a world where engagement with diverse populations is the norm. Honor that in your law firm.
Fostering congenial diversity begins with not only respecting, but also appreciating each other. It begins at the top. Make it a habit of acknowledging everyone on your staff and expressing your appreciation for their work and accomplishments. Be specific in your appreciation. Communicate your thanks consistently and verbally, but don’t leave out written thank you’s and the occasional tangible thanks – from the highest paid attorney to entry-level support staff.
Set the standard. Lead the way. If you want to create a culture that draws and keeps, then you have to, once again, begin at the top. Begin by clearly communicating your expectations. Continue by personally setting the pattern and staying true to it. Finish by responding to those who blatantly break culture.
Clear communication is paramount to a successful, vibrant culture. Warm, honest, transparent communication. Ensuring that everyone is on board and has the necessary information to carry out their responsibilities. In fact, communication is all about a people-focused direction and appreciation.
Foster a culture that’s both productive and relaxed. Establish a balance between everybody giving 100% to a deadline and taking time for fun. It’s essential to the health of your firm to encourage individual work-life balance. This includes time for family and friends, as well as time for pro bono work.
Create a culture where personal and professional growth is encouraged and supported, for your attorneys, associates, and supporting staff. Provide opportunities that not only build on their natural bents but also take them out of their comfort zone and challenge them.
Bottom line? Your firm’s culture is key to your firm’s ability to retain the talent you need. Pay attention to what your attorneys, associates, and supporting staff are saying. Do you hear words that include and actions that reveal compassion, respect, kindness, support, cooperation, understanding, empowerment, and integrity? If yes, kudos to you. If no, it’s back to the drawing board, but either way – be intentional about building a culture that embodies these 7 principles.
OnBoard Legal will connect your firm with the best talent on the market. Our legal division specializes in placing the very best lawyers with outstanding law firms and leading corporate legal departments. Contact us today.