Start Your FREE Membership NOW
 Discover Proven Ways to Be a Better Law Office Manager
 Get Our Weekly eNewsletter, Law Office Manager Bulletin,
    and MUCH MORE
 Absolutely NO Risk or Obligation on Your Part -- It's FREE!



Upgrade to Premium Membership NOW for Just $27!
Get 3 Months of Full Premium Membership Access
Includes Our Monthly Newsletter, Office Toolbox, Policy Center, and Archives
And MUCH MORE!
MANAGING STAFF

The surprising answer to what your staff really wants

Flexible work arrangements are often at or near the top of survey lists. And yes, money matters.

But, perhaps surprising, career development also gets top rankings. Employees want to acquire knowledge and learn new skills in order to do their jobs and advance their careers.

What’s more, development opportunities play an important role in keeping staff members – and keeping them committed to the practice.

Why employees leave

In his book, “The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave,” author and employee engagement expert Leigh Branham points to the critical role staff development plays in employee retention.

Two of the 10 most frequently mentioned issues identified in departing employees’ responses to the question, “What did ABC Company do poorly?” are “lack of career growth and advancement opportunity” and “lack of training.”

But Branham doesn’t take these statements at face value. Recognizing there will always be limited advancement opportunities–after all, every organization only has so many positions–he explores what’s behind these statements and identifies what it is employees are really seeking.

It turns out learning and growth opportunities both large and small make employees feel valued and that they are moving forward. Even lateral movements and job enrichment, not just promotions, allow for career growth, Branham says.

At the same time, providing training and other resources gives staff members the knowledge and skills they need to do their jobs, which results in greater job satisfaction.

Career development and team commitment

The link between job satisfaction and employee retention might seem obvious, and it has been confirmed by numerous surveys.

However, a new study from CultureAmp, developers of Murmur, a platform to collect and analyze workplace data, finds a direct link between employee career development and commitment to a team.

CultureAmp finds that career development is by far the most important factor when it comes to team commitment, far out ranking manager and pay.

The study appears to refute the belief that employees leave managers, not the organizations for which they work.

Indeed, in sharing study findings, Jason McPherson, chief scientist for CultureAmp, writes: “Do people leave managers, not companies? No, people are more likely to leave companies that don’t provide them with good development opportunities and leadership. Even good managers are likely to struggle to retain key employees and manage team retention rates if these things are not looked after.”

Training, education, and more

So, how can you provide your staff with career develop opportunities?

Step one: Communicate with employees

Find out what employees’ job “pain points” are and figure out how additional training might help improve the situation.

This communication can take place in staff meetings, where other employees may have solutions to share. Be sure to approach the topic correctly, however. Discussion should focus on how to improve processes and workflow for greater efficiency; it should not turn into a gripe session.

A focus on alleviating pain points should also be part of an ongoing one-to-one dialogue you have with each staff member. In addition, it should be part of every performance appraisal process. The approach should be, “How can the practice help you do your job better?” Then listen, really listen, to what the employee has to say and follow through on finding solutions.

Step two: Explore career development opportunities, both large and small

There’s a tendency to think of training in terms of formal, paid programs, and good ones can certainly help employees acquire knowledge and learn new skills. Yet, valuable training also comes free of charge.

For example, computer software often includes user information, which offers easy answers to common problems along with how-to tips. But a user must first know how to tap in to this information. Is there a computer whiz in your office who can show others how it’s done?

Software and equipment vendors are also valuable training resources. System updates are the perfect time to ask one of these experts to train your staff.

Higher education is another avenue to explore. A college course or series of courses that lead to a credential or degree may be appropriate for a staff member, particularly if she or he has expressed an interest in pursuing this educational goal. Does your practice offer full or partial tuition reimbursement? If not, is it something the practice owners may consider?

Step three: Develop a career development mindset

Constantly be alert to ways you can provide employees with new learning opportunities.

As Branham points out, these opportunities can involve lateral moves. And these moves don’t have to be permanent. Simple shifts in responsibilities during vacation season, for example, may uncover an employee’s hidden strength or spark a new interest, which will point the way toward career development.

Face it, no one wants to feel undervalued, stuck in a rut or that she or he is only working for a paycheck. By providing career development opportunities, you show employees you value them. Meanwhile, as employees acquire new knowledge and skills, they feel they are growing – which they are. For most people, this provides a greater sense of self-worth, which positively impacts their lives.

Conclusion

Don’t underestimate the value of career development on your practice. As the experts point out, it will pay off in terms of employee retention and team commitment. Meanwhile, in the day-to-day, it’s likely you’ll also notice an improvement in office morale.

Finally, don’t neglect your own career development. Take advantage of opportunities to further your knowledge and skills whenever possible by attending live events specifically for law office administrators, such as the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) Annual Conference & Exhibition and International Legal Technology Association Conference & Exhibition.


Editor’s picks:

8 quick ways to improve communication with your staff


How to create a culture of professional development and keep your top employees


Start off staff’s year by putting the focus on professional growth


Close

EMAIL ADDRESS


PASSWORD
EMAIL ADDRESS

FIRST NAME

LAST NAME

TITLE

COMPANY

CITY / STATE

Try Premium Membership

(-0)