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Motivating Law Firm Teams in Today’s COVID-19 Reality

By Lawyer Minds | Oct 15, 2020 | Mike's Office Management Tips

To run a successful law firm– whether it’s a solo practice or a large firm– you’ll need to not only excel in the areas of law you’re practicing in, but also in all matters of running the practice itself. Running a legal practice comes with its own, unique set of challenges that even the most prepared lawyer setting out to start a new practice may find themselves overwhelmed with. I’m here to help make the job of running your law office just a little easier. Welcome back to Mike’s Office Management Tips.

— Mike Campbell

As people who have been working from home for the better part of the year continue to tackle the challenges of being away from bosses, supervisors, and colleagues, it’s paramount to find ways to instill motivation, inspiration, and drive in all employees. While it can seem difficult to find out how to do this, it’s not impossible. Law firms have a number of unique positions that all work together to provide clients with premier legal services. If motivation falls, it could affect everyone. Let’s talk about how to maintain motivation and keep everyone on the same page while working from home.

The Importance of Motivation During COVID-19

Working from home offices can make people feel like they’re on their own island when they’re focusing on their tasks for the day. It’s important for everyone to remember that they’re part of a team. You’re all working together to provide the best legal services to those who need it. But what are the stressors employees are facing during the pandemic?

  • Isolation
  • Fear of illness
  • Worry for family/friends
  • Maintaining a household
  • Keeping up with finances

Nearly everyone has to deal with these struggles every day. Since the pandemic started in March and working from home is ongoing, it’s uncertain how much longer people will need to contend with these stressors each day. That in itself can cause emotional distress.

Remember, this situation is more than everyone simply working from home. We’re completing work from home while contending with the limitations of a pandemic. While people have this ever-present stress, it can be difficult to turn their full attention to work.

However, by getting ahead of the issue and acknowledging the stressors and difficulties of working from home during a pandemic, you open a dialogue that allows your employees to make their thoughts heard and provide an opportunity to address these issues.

Have Discussions About Motivation

Consider how you can incorporate discussions about motivation so you can learn what your employees are going through. Possible ways to initiate this discussion can include:

  • Weekly Check-In Meetings
  • One-on-One Meetings

During these meetings, you can investigate what factors are working against motivation. There’s a good chance you’ll be able to identify common ones. Perhaps employees who have children learning online or children too young for school make it difficult to do legal research or make sure a legal document has everything it needs during regular work hours. Possible solutions could include having a more flexible work schedule where the employee will have more opportunities to get their work done. They could sign in earlier or work a bit later when their house is a calmer environment and they can pay close attention to detail.

Some employees may not have access to the same resources in their home office. Making sure your employees have the tools necessary to do complete their tasks will allow them to do their best work, which will in turn help your clients.

You can also encourage teamwork in meetings to think about how they can help each other achieve goals and complete tasks. This may result in more communication between colleagues when they’re working on a project and make them more comfortable with asking questions about a task. This helps quell the feelings of isolation because consistent communication yields collaboration and reminds employees that this is a team effort to help your clients get justice—and working from home hasn’t changed that.

Knowing that the line of communication is always open could also give employees the chance to address issues and find solutions head-on, instead of trying to work through the issue on their own or allowing the issue to become a constant stressor in their workday. When your employees know you’re invested in providing them with the tools they need to succeed, then they’ll be more motivated to find solutions that work best for them. While it may take some time, they’ll develop a system that allows them to do their best work from home, whether that’s researching for a case, preparing legal documents, or communicating with clients.

Drive Your Firm Employees’ Creativity

In a previous blog, we discussed boosting productivity while working from home. This goes hand-in-hand with keeping morale high and having a positive outlook. As you’re all working together to adapt to working from home, you’re likely going to experiment with some ideas of how to maintain motivation and complete your daily tasks.

Gather feedback and keep the discussion going about the methods you’re testing. Find out what employees like or dislike about it, what worked for them, and what could be improved. If people seem hesitant to speak up in a meeting, perhaps an anonymous feedback form would make employees more comfortable with voicing their opinions.

There’s no fixed template for how a law firm should run during a pandemic, and it may take some time to find the best ways to move forward. Don’t be afraid to experiment or for those experiments to fail. This can lead to better solutions and set the foundation for your law firm to face the challenges the pandemic has presented, implement creative solutions, and ultimately continue to thrive as your employees will be passionate and ready to tackle the day to the best of their abilities.

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