During a chaotic and unpredictable year, law teams have experienced several highs and lows. And with the majority of employees still operating from home, their managers have been given the task of ensuring they remain productive and motivated throughout continuous turbulence.

As businesses continue to adapt, the global crisis has encouraged leaders to tap into an agile mindset when enabling staff to work safely at home, in the office or a mixture of the two. Immediate concerns have had to be addressed – from problematic Wi-Fi strengths and lack of PC-related kit, to embracing MS Teams, Zoom and updating internal Employee Relations (ER) policies.

And with many offices shut for the foreseeable future, legal teams – many of which may have never known a working environment other than in the office – are challenging their managers to provide the support that’s needed to maintain autonomy, build resilience and remain positive and happy.

  1. Making sure communication never wavers

For employers used to having an ‘open door’ policy, adjustments will have had to be made to formal meetings, appraisals and key touch points that occur throughout the working day.

Without being privy to discussions between employees – or being able to join conversations naturally – managers might be missing immediate colleague concerns. Therefore, it is vital to keep dialogue consistent, simple, clear and brief.

Legal leaders have to make real efforts to ‘check in’ and build relationships authentically via a wide variety of preferred methods of communication. Taking the time to have a debrief can be vital in making teams feeling less isolated.

  1. Supervising but not micro-managing

It can be easy for managers to slip into the habit of booking in meetings when they’re not necessarily required, to maintain an element of control – but this can often backfire.

With ‘Zoom fatigue’ on the rise, it is essential to think about each touch point and provide support accordingly. Delivering clear instructions as to what is expected of employees during the day/week/month – and keeping in touch accordingly – can provide a sense of empowerment, autonomy and trust.

  1. Training junior staff

For new starters or legal apprentices, a typical day in the office might involve ‘shadowing’ members of the team. If that option is unavailable, the challenge is to keep them developing and motivated to learn – even when remote.

Video conferencing is a strong tool to assist with training as colleagues can attend webinars, brainstorming sessions and customer meetings. Additionally, managers must ensure employees are equipped with the right technology and understand the in-house processes.

  1. Don’t forget about team building sessions

While a physical event may not be on the cards, it doesn’t mean a manager has to put social sessions on pause.

Workplace wellbeing is now more pressing than ever before, so legal employees should be provided with opportunities to feel part of the team and be inspired to learn – all of which can help productivity.

Developing company culture goes a long way towards shaping a business’s values and underpins its key strengths (and weaknesses) – so it shouldn’t ever be overlooked.

There is no doubt that leaders do have a lot to think about when managing a workforce throughout coronavirus. But communicating a clear business direction and vision, updating staff on key metrics and performance regularly, providing and prioritising clear personal goals, and setting objectives and development areas are all essential next steps to deliver against a personal framework that can help to build a more collaborative and motivated group.

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