Affinity Consulting Blog


“Doing things is not the same as getting things done.”

Jared Silver said this, but so many of us feel it. We spend our days putting out fires, or talking to our team members and colleagues about the same problems over and over again. Sometimes the word team only means a group of people working in the same space on the same types of tasks.

But a team can be so much more.

Effective teams are complimentary is skill sets and focused on a shared, common goal. They work efficiently and do the right things.

Effective teams demonstrate a few key characteristics:

Accountability. They solve problems on their own and don’t shrug off responsibility of successes and mistakes. They recognize conflict is an opportunity to find better ways to do things, and they mentor one another to be better.

Communication. Strong teams know how to communicate with one another so messages aren’t just sent, but so they are also received, and retained. They find tailored ways to share information effectively and openly are don’t feel restricted in doing so.

Profitability. Effective teams reduce a lot of the waste that comes from mis-communication, lack of action, fear of conflict. They look for ways to do things better because they are accountable so efficiencies are added when possible. Further, effective teams are often supported by automation and sound technology that ups their ability to do more with less – all of which means a greater contribution to the bottom line.

Now doesn’t that sound nice? Does it also sound unattainable?

It’s actually something you can achieve – but to make your teams more effective, you will need to put in sustained, committed effort to build the foundations that allow teams to be most successful – together, for the firm, and for your clients.

To build the qualities we described above in your teams, you need to begin at the very building of the team itself.

Define Your Teams. Don’t let people suffer in roles in which they can’t succeed. Take the time to look first at what your firm needs done. Package that into reasonable roles – think of only the what that must be done. Once you know which “seats” you need to fill – then, find (note I did not say match), the people best suited to achieve those defined tasks. This leads to confidence within each of your team members when they can do a job well, and confidence in one another for the same reasons.

Manage Your Teams and Your People. No two tasks, two people, or two days are the same. Our business is changing. So we need to provide our people and our teams intentional avenues to grow and adapt. You do that with a few tools:

• The Right Meetings, The Right Way: None of us want to experience death by meeting, but providing avenues for your teams to work on the business not just in the business that are well-run, on-time, and focused can be vital catalysts to innovation, and demonstrating confidence in your teams that feeds their confidence and accountability.

• Intentional Leadership: Law school doesn’t come with a full slate of management courses, but investing in your people through one-on-one quick meetings helps you keep a good handle on: what people are and aren’t doing well, what they need, their satisfaction and how to improve your employees’ experience and your team’s productivity. Weaving in a few key leadership behaviors can save you a lot of time eventually by proactively finding and solving issues before they become big problems.

Focus on Culture. Putting fully capable people in roles they can successfully perform, and managing to that is only half the battle. You need “the secret sauce” of culture that defines and upholds the intangibles that your firm decides are critical to be part of your teams. I’m not talking about trust falls and day long retreats – while those can help build culture, it can also be easily wrapped into your day-to-day.

• Define Core Values. What behaviors aren’t pay-to-play, set you apart from your competitors and are essential to success at the firm? Define 2-5 things and make them part of your everyday communications, marketing materials, and regular reviews of your team members.

• Focus on Communication. We all communicate differently, and if we aren’t careful, when we don’t understand one another, we blame the person, and not the message or the way it was delivered. Define basic “rules of engagement” for your firm – such as (1) receive feedback without debate (2) provide feedback intending to help – or go further and adopt a communication style model into your firm – like DISC, Galen’s four temperaments or even Myers Briggs. Whatever you do, use it – frequently!

For some, this may sound unrelated to the daily work we have to complete, but the more productive our team members are as individuals, and as a unit, the less time we spend focusing on barriers to achieving the financial and productivity levels we want.

We’ll discuss these concepts, and more concrete steps you can take to improve the overall effectiveness of your teams in our upcoming FREE webinar on July 14 at 1 p.m. EDT. Register HERE.

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