“I believe the real difference between success and failure in a corporation can very often be traced to the question of how well the organization brings out the great energies and talents of its people.”
Tom Peters and Robert J Waterman, In Search of Excellence, 1982
How many of your people are fully engaged, emotionally, intellectually or spiritually (their passion for the work should drive at least some of these)?
Forget the notion of the ‘Firm’ brand. Your talent is your brand.
People are the key differentiator in great firms.
Their development is not mere happenstance.
How many examples do you need to recognise that great businesses are built on the back of exceptional talent?
The business of law has a lamentable track record.
How much time do senior practitioners spend on developing the next generation of leaders? Self-starters are welcome, but anyone who might need a hand, guidance or support?
Sink or swim?
Every person deserves more time and attention than the annual (crappy) appraisal. Another form to fill in at best!
Succession planning must surely be a priority but, yet, the legacy of under-management/development of your people has left many a firm facing the problem of who is going to take over the reigns?
Leaders are not born.
They are nurtured.
But the mindset in law firms is to suppress your talent.
The focus for all businesses, large and small, should be to challenge everyone to be the most that they can be, even if, sometimes, that cannot be found immediately at hand. Just imagine a scenario where you say to your employees you have come as far as you can with our firm, and now is the time for us to help you find a new job/challenge where your talents can be developed still further.
It is not as far fetched as it sounds.
Every firm should put in place the machinery to offer the most rewarding experience they can. That doesn’t have to mean expensive external training where there is often a degree of brand snobbery: “I was trained by [name].”
Everyone has something to contribute and should be part of the process.
Mentoring is a good start but it is not an end in itself. It is a primer no more.
Don’t just focus on law.
Think in the round.
Nothing should be out of reach.
All firms want to stand out and be noticed. But in truth that is no more than the sum total of your talent.
Get it right and you will fly.
Any process of change is gut-wrenchingly hard.
But change won’t happen by having lots of plans, pretty diagrams and change programmes. It will only happen if your people make it happen.
Invest in your people.
Believe in them.
Stop treating them like cogs in a wheel.
And start to listen to what they are saying. Don’t shoot down the people who are honest enough to tell you want you don’t want to hear. They should be your saviours not your enemies.
Talent is everything.
What are you doing to make the most of it?