Great ideas for growing your practice could be going unnoticed because your employees are too afraid or apathetic to speak up.
Even worse, their sense of disempowerment may keep your firm mired in mediocrity.
That’s a real problem when 40 percent of employees say they aren’t comfortable sharing their ideas at work, according to this research conducted by the company Let’s Grow Leaders.
“The value of employee empowerment is massive,” writes law firm staffing expert Molly McGrath on the Hiring and Empowering Solutions website. “They come to you with solutions, not problems. They protect your time. When you have an empowered employee in your corner, you can start using the word ‘no’ a little more, and reclaim your happiness, sanity, and peace of mind knowing that your employee has your back.”
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The IDEA Framework
Karin Hurt and David Dye, the founders of Let’s Grow Leaders, teach businesses across the globe the IDEA technique for empowering employees and encouraging creativity. They explain how it works in this piece for the US Chamber of Commerce website CO:
- I: Interesting. “Why is this idea interesting? What strategic problem does it solve? How will results improve from this idea (e.g., customer experience, employee retention, efficiency)?”
- D: Doable. “Is this idea something we could actually do? How would we make it happen? What would make it easier or more difficult?”
- E: Engaging. “Who would we need to engage to make this happen? Why should they support it? Where are we most likely to meet resistance?”
- A: Actions. “What are the most important actions needed to try this? How would we start?”
“By telling your team you’re looking for interesting, doable, engaging actions, you are consistently asking and teaching them how to know a good idea when they see one,” according to Hurt and Dye. “This will give you a huge competitive advantage — attracting the most innovative talent and having more hearts and minds finding innovative ways to improve operations and improve your customer experience.
Six Tips for Creating an Empowered Team
- Encourage your staff to think and act like the firm’s CEO. “Empowered employees are capable of making decisions that get things done in a way that honors your judgment and your law firm’s standards,” say Hurt and Dye. “They feel trusted—and they are honored to be trusted! Your trust makes them feel more accountable—they want to manage your firm’s money, time and calendar in a way that fosters your trust and confidence in their skills.”
- Listen to them. When you stop listening, they stop sharing.
- Build relationships. It’s not all about work. Every member of your team has a life outside the office. The more you are mutually invested in each other’s health, happiness and prosperity, the more successful your firm will be.
- Encourage educational opportunities. Bring your staff with you to CLEs. Pay for their membership in professional organizations. Give them an educational budget to attend conferences, obtain specialized training and take advantage of opportunities for professional growth
- Foster a commitment to client relations. “When you hear an employee use a phrase like ‘our clients,’ you know you’ve crossed the threshold of having employees who are just there to make a paycheck and employees who care as much about the business as you do,” says McGrath. “They come in early, they stay late, they lose sleep over clients, money, calendar, systems.” Develop an agenda that includes everyone who has a stake in the issues. Create an environment that’s safe for people to speak candidly.
- Provide follow-up and feedback. Let people know their input is valuable. Keep them in the loop when their suggestions are implemented.
How do you empower employees in your firm?