Are you a collaborator?
Perhaps the war gave the word ‘collaborator’ a nasty edge but in the 21st century what can we achieve on our own? Collaboration is the way we share knowledge and skills to get the job done. Clients expect us to produce results for them not just bills. Usually to do work effectively and efficiently requires a team effort.
Some would say that partnerships are simply a collection of sole practitioners working under the same name and I have indeed met a few which are just like that. The only trouble is that each person may be re-creating the wheel; drafting in their own style a core piece of advice, which could have been researched once and shared for all to use.
Collaboration can be overdone – particularly the habit of meetings, meetings, meetings which take up lots of a person’s time and which do not produce the requisite return on investment. Equally, in a firm, one person may be creative and helpful and so drowns under a deluge of requests by e-mail for input on matter after matter. They may never get to their own work and yet this may be all they are judged upon (i.e. fee targets).
But when collaboration works trust is built; people get to know each other and can reciprocate for favours done and help given. This will be particularly important in firms which have been through a series of mergers and individuals are effectively strangers to one another.
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The sort of collaboration I am interested in is what might be called ‘informational’ – that is expertise that can be recorded and shared. Collaboration is a two-way process but all too often if it happens at all, it is one way – favours consistently asked of a single person who gets overloaded. Is that you?
However heart-warming it may feel to be needed it can be disastrous for both the firm and the individual – the individual may leave. It may be involuntary, due to stress or illness brought on by the overloading, or intentional because they feel undervalued.
Are you are a team leader or manager finding yourself only getting to your own fee earning work at 5pm because you are spending all day being everyone else’s ‘guru’? If so, then this is one-way collaboration. It is unhealthy. It is time to examine the reasons for the enquiries and see if collaboration with LawSkills can help.
It might be that you need coaching yourself to move from ‘guru’ to enabler; it might mean your team need to up their game and learn more for themselves – bespoke training for your team on the things you want to know rather than what a conference organiser offers.
It might be that a discussion facilitated by LawSkills can ask the difficult questions and be free of internal sensitivities and so enable a move forward with internal collaboration.
We have provided in-house support to a variety of firms and should be able to help you. Give us a ring and let’s start collaborating!
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