Tips to Motivate Your Legal Team and Maintain Morale
By Jamy J. Sullivan, JD, Robert Half
Over the past two years, our firm has
been experiencing changes stemming from the pandemic, the “Great Resignation”
and other disruptive causes. This has prompted many of my staff to worry about
their future with the company, starting with what will happen to their current
role. How can I keep my legal team motivated and maintain their morale in these
more uncertain times?
The last three-plus years have indeed been tumultuous. However, the mark of a successful leader of a legal team is the ability to help them manage — and even embrace — change and disruption. Here are eight tips to keep your staff motivated and engaged during uncertain times.
1. Share as much information as possible
During times of disruption and transition, communication is king. Hold virtual meetings or send email updates more frequently than normal that share as much as you can about what is happening and what will happen next. You don’t want to leave your team in the dark, even if you have only limited details about the changes in-store. Find out everything you can from your management about why the change is necessary and how everyone will benefit in the end. Information is the best weapon against rumors, frustration, resentment, stress and fear during a period of major change.
2. Emphasize continuity
It’s a myth that the events of recent years “changed everything.” Take your firm’s core values. Are they so different now than in 2019? Emphasizing your client service philosophy as well as the firm’s ethics and values can be a reassuring anchor for legal teams when other things seem to be in flux.
3. Set clear goals and expectations
Team members are less likely to feel unsettled by disruption if they have tangible goals to work towards. Set these goals carefully — they should be challenging but realistic.
4. Encourage teamwork
Change is less intimidating when teams confront it together. By giving individuals opportunities to contribute their skills and ideas in a positive way, you can build camaraderie and a sense of belonging within your firm.
5. Provide opportunities for growth
Disruption can be motivating when accompanied by opportunities for upskilling and professional growth. If someone’s job will change, they’ll need the skills to evolve with it. Investing in your employees’ development also shows that you have faith in their adaptability and learning prowess.
6. Show appreciation
Adapting to change is never easy, so it’s important to give kudos to teams and individuals who rise to the challenge. Show appreciation for outstanding work during the most crucial weeks and months by recognizing achievements or providing appropriate rewards — thank-you notes, gift cards, or public recognition during meetings or company events, for example.
7. Offer flexible hours and remote working options
One way to help your employees through the stresses brought on by change is to allow them greater freedom over where and when they work. Some jobs can’t be done remotely, of course, but research conducted for the 2023 Salary Guide From Robert Half revealed that two-thirds of workers also want flexible daily and weekly schedules. So, whether it’s through flextime, windowed work or a compressed workweek, you might still be able to give employees some of the flexibility that can help them cope.
8. Staff flexibly
Escalating workloads can place considerable strain on legal staff. Meet regularly with your team to evaluate workloads, set priorities and rebalance responsibilities. You can also tap the services of a staffing firm to engage skilled legal professionals on a contract basis, lightening the load on permanent teams.
Keeping legal teams motivated and productive during uncertain times presents a unique set of challenges. Taking steps like those outlined here can equip your staff with the skills and mindset needed to not only survive change but thrive.
Jamy J. Sullivan is executive director of the legal practice at Robert Half, the world’s first and largest specialized talent solutions firm. Robert Half offers contract and permanent placement solutions, and is the parent company of Protiviti®, a global consulting firm. Visit RobertHalf.com.