3 Strategies for Managing In-House Counsel in 2013
Today each of us is being tasked to outperform. Whether in the market, the economy, or our own personal development, the expectations to grow regardless of conditions have become the norm. While employees report they are working 15% harder than they were three years ago, their bosses’ performance expectations have ratcheted up even further – only 24% of GCs believe that their teams are currently performing at the highest level. While we could conclude that GCs have unrealistic expectations or teams aren’t always working efficiently as they should, the underlying issue is likely related to systemic changes in the work environment.
Three observations prevail based on a recent CEB survey of 100 GCs. 38% feel the pressure of more frequent organizational change, 31% increasingly rely on cross-organizational collaboration to achieve their individual outcomes and 30% observe that new kinds of information technology have radically changed what they do, and how they do it. We look at this combination of trends and term it the “new work environment.” 70% of GCs agree that their teams need to become more adaptive and agile to respond to these trends.
These environmental changes present an occasion for Legal departments to more fundamentally rethink and update their competencies, hiring profiles and their performance evaluation processes. GCs and their business operations managers may want to ask the following questions:
- How should we alter expectations of managers?
Change and ambiguity will continue to dampen individual productivity unless managers help employees better anticipate, contextualize, prioritize, and respond to frequent change at all levels—ultimately making them more agile and accepting of change. This requires managers to play a more active coaching role.
- How do we foster and support collaboration in and across the department?
Collaboration will not occur unless organizations enable and encourage broader employee networks—connecting employees as needed and providing clear direction, aligned incentives, integrated workflow, and better technology. Leading organizations are building collaboration skills explicitly into their performance criteria. This goes beyond evaluating “teamwork” skills but explicitly measuring collaboration outcomes on department performance.
- Do we invest equally in user training of technology, as we do in technology implementation?
Since knowledge work requires both ready access to the right information and effective decision making with that information, Legal need to ensure that employees have the right skills and abilities to use advanced information technology effectively in their jobs.