What do you want your staff to be able to do?

 In Gill's Blog, Practice Management

Disclaimer: LawSkills provides training for the legal industry and does not provide legal advice to members of the public. For help or guidance please seek the services of a qualified practitioner.

Those of you with a teaching or training background will be aware of Bloom’s Taxonomy which is a well-known framework for categorizing educational goals. It has been developed over the years since it was formulated in 1956 by Benjamin Bloom and others, but in essence it is a useful framework for developing the knowledge, skills and abilities of your staff too.

The original framework

The original framework comprised: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation but may now be better understood as (courtesy of the Center for Teaching at Vanderbilt University):

  • Remember – Recall facts and basic concepts
  • Understand – Explain ideas or concepts
  • Apply – Use information in new situations
  • Analyse – Draw connections among ideas
  • Evaluate – Justify a stand or decision
  • Create – Produce new or original work

Using it in your firm generally

We need all sorts of staff to have a knowledge of specific things which enable them to do their job effectively. We need them to get to a position where they can recall what they are supposed to do and how they are supposed to do it. In the legal field, for example, everyone in the organization needs to know about the firm’s complaints handling procedure and who to direct a complainant to in the firm.

Support staff’s knowledge may be largely of administrative functions but also, they need some overall understanding of the legal framework in which they work e.g. not only must a Will be prepared carefully and bound as per the firm’s instructions it is important not to attach anything to it once signed for fear of making it invalid.

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When setting knowledge outcomes for qualified staff it may involve asking them to research the ground rules for downsizing for RNRB for example, but you might then want to test their comprehension of the law by asking them to apply it on a particular file where that is relevant.

When recruiting or promoting staff

As part of a recruitment process it can be useful to provide the same scenario to all the applicants where you ask them to apply their knowledge to the facts in the case example. This would involve an analysis of the problems presented and a demonstration of how they would approach it which may show they know the common ways of addressing the problem or novel ways in which it could be tackled.

Having an objective tool as part of the recruitment process by which to compare candidates can be helpful in addition to the social skills which an interviewer might establish.

Similarly, when considering the promotion of staff, putting the same level of technical questions to those being considered for promotion again provides a fair way to evaluate whether they are competent to move up in the firm as part of the process.

Having an organized set of objectives to be achieved from the interaction helps those assessing recruits and candidates ensure there are valid assessment tasks included which are aligned with the objectives.

When sourcing training

In asking a training provider (in-house or external) to provide some training for your team it really helps to have an effective event if thought is given to what the outcomes you are seeking from the event and how you will know if they have been achieved.

Learning outcomes should be readily given when deciding on the content for the training session and these can form the basis for evaluating the effectiveness of the training. If the learning outcomes are drawn using the Bloom framework it helps everyone involved to understand the purpose of the training. Those providing the training can benefit from using the framework to organize the learning outcomes in the first place and having them helps to clarify the purpose of the training so that they plan and deliver appropriate instruction.

Conclusion

We are used to having a file management plan so why not have plans for developing the knowledge, skills and abilities of our staff.

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