What Does Your Law Firm Wu-Tang Clan Look Like?
Every law firm is different. Each one has specific needs, operations, and culture.
High professional standards, documented processes, and a monopoly amongst a handful of legal practice management tools have flattened the difference in how firms manage their workflow to almost nothing.
Too often, having a single source of truth for collaboration seems to be the way of doing business for most law firms. This is why it became inexcusable for any practice management software not to have a single shared dashboard to gain visibility into projects, assigned tasks, and associated deadlines.
The focal point is on the process, not you, or your team.
As an incoming Attorney, Paralegal, or Legal Assistant, you are subject to the random discovery of pre-set workflows and tech stacks your law office has already adopted. This unilateral focus on unified workflows can do you an injustice.
Authenticity and personality are everything. People thrive in environments where they feel permitted to be themselves, and that will never change.
The relationship is only skin deep. Nobody is interested in knowing your individual preferences, let alone adapting to your mental model of getting things done…
Unfortunately, the legal profession hasn’t woken up yet to how important acknowledging individual work styles is for doing business in the 21st century.
Let’s start with the Obvious
Let’s get the least surprising fact out of the way: The whole point of practice management software is that it’s supposed to make the lives of attorneys easier. Any software worth your while will be stocked with various features meant to maximize your efficiency.
In our ever-growing cyber-world, there is no shortage of options when it comes to practice management software for lawyers. However, quantity is not an indicator of quality, and it is all too easy to fall victim to appealing promises that ultimately fall short.
It has taken us some time to learn, through customer interviews and seeing problems with their current processes, that just because everyone agrees that the firm “should” adhere to a shared dashboard for collaboration, it doesn’t mean that anyone in the firm is personally passionate enough to follow it.
What if a “get to it eventually” stage on my to-do list is “Wow this is on fire!” on yours? The core tasks are usually the same, but each individual has a unique way of getting to the end goal.
Because of this gap between ways and means, nothing ever moves forward.
How to put people first and deal with the ways gap: The One Direction Strategy
The music industry’s greatest innovation was boy bands. Those geniuses knew one thing, teenage girls have different tastes.
Your employees do too, and a unified workflow can’t be all things to all people.
Bring together a diverse group of people to share their authentic selves in the public eye, and the sum becomes greater than its parts.
One direction has a different heartthrob for every teenage girl, whatever they’re into. The happy-go-lucky boy next door. The moody rebel.
Similarly, the Wu-Tang Clan gathers together a bunch of powerful identities. Again, sometimes different for everyone. A dozen well-known personalities, different passions, different influences. Each has developed their way of doing things.
Your firm should be like the Wu-Tang Clan. The more diverse and unconventional your team, the better your opportunity to maximize their impact on efficiency.
What does your law firm Wu-Tang Clan look like?
A few firms experiment with shared dashboard overviews for case management. But, it’s better to establish independent dashboards for your team that are separate from the firm’s dashboard.
Again, employees want to follow the shenanigans and workflow of Jenny the Paralegal more than SickoMode the law firm.
Trust them to run their tasks independently and set up their workflow however they think would be best for them. Your employees will appreciate it!
What might be an “In Review” stage in your to-do list might be a “get to it eventually” stage for Sally, or “Wow this is on fire!” for Johnny. The desired outcome is the same, but each individual has their unique way of organizing to the end goal.
Your job as a manager isn’t to dole out processes like homework. Instead, unearth the diversity of your team by supporting them with tools, encouragement, flexibility, and resources to achieve your goals. And, let your team feel safe in their boundaries to follow their own path.
There’s a certainty to the conventional playbook because it worked in the past, but the cost of certainty is opportunity. The opportunity to be yourself and make your work an extension of you is everything. Your team will still all share the same tasks and the same goals.
Don’t be surprised when giving your staff autonomy results in better output. Your clients will see the change. They will build a level of trust you’ll have trouble replicating with any other strategy. They’ll feel comfortable approaching you.
The same applies to attracting talent.
Just like the Wu-Tang Clan, some fans will follow the band, but most will have a favorite. All you can do is let your players follow their path, and count on them to meet you at the finish line.
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