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Six observations on values and way of working for legal teams

Posted 7/9/2015

Do lawyers have emotions? Do feelings impact performance? Does openness and transparency improve performance of legal teams? Yes. Yes. Yes. Values and ways of working are as important for legal teams as for any other teams. Below you will six questions and recommendations for your consideration.

1) Are your values understandable, understood, shared and actionable?

It is of utmost importance for companies (and teams) to have values that the members believe in and share. Values need to be discussed and people need to know and understand what kind of behavior is aligned with values and what is not. Something is not really a value if you are not enforcing it rigorously.

2) Values need to apply to everyone

Values are not something that you keep your employees satisfied with and that you do not need to bother about. They must apply to everyone, the board and owners included. Law firm partners and management need to be the ambassadors of values of their firm. Otherwise values may become just a lip service and having them documented just makes things worse.

3) How are the values visible in your daily activities and processes?

You need to live your values. They are not something that you document and then it’s over and done with. Are your values visible within your company? And I do not mean posters on the walls. Can your employees, customers and partners feel and experience them? Do you assess new employees and partners against your values? Shared values beat strict contractual relationship hands down.

4) Take care of your values

Values erode fast. Even when they are shared, some promotion, policing and maintenance will be required. You need to act promptly with non-compliance and set the example. Remember to look in the mirror as well. The following quote from Edith Wharton is worth a thought “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”

5) Sharing, caring and crowdsourcing are important

Teams beat individuals. Two is more than one. Teamwork needs to be encouraged, promoted and required. To cope with the increasing competition and cost pressures you need to create a culture of sharing and tap into the wisdom and knowledge of all. Crowdsourcing brings great results. Openness, transparency and culture of sharing really rock. It is not just for efficiency and better productivity alone, it is more fun as well.

6) Measure and incentivize the right things

Do not underestimate the power of incentives. If you only incentivize productivity and monetary results you get those, sometimes at the cost of many other things that should be measured and incentivized. Remember to have balanced metrics and reward and recognize achievements more broadly.