Partner Efficiency – Finding the Sweet Spot
Which tasks are best suited for delegation at your law office?
Delegation is the art of getting more work done by personally doing less. It’s often a difficult thing for a leader to do. After all, if your first instinct wasn’t to shoulder most of the burden you wouldn’t be a leader. Many who are in positions to delegate have to fight that instinct to over-perform while also maintaining faith that their team can perform as well as required.
The term “doing less” means designating tasks so the entire firm can achieve even more, integrate successfully and grow profitably.
The costs of poor (or no) delegation
If the efficiency of your firm is low, then your reputation and bottom line will be the same. A heavy workload can place the full weight of various client demands firmly on the senior partners. While it’s good to be in demand, this scenario sets your firm up for lower efficiency overall.
As a senior partner, you’re in a good position to gauge what your junior staff can handle. The greater the importance of a case, the higher up the chain of your firm it should be handled. If you’re successfully diversifying your client base and case type (a smart and safe practice) you’ll be able to allow more junior partners to handle lesser cases. This allows for a more selective (and ultimately profitable) focus by senior practitioners in how to allocate their services and time.
If you’re finding it tough to delegate, then you may even be harming your own reputation with your staff. You may think it’s the better option to handle the bulk of the workload but consider for a moment the feelings of your employees. They may be wondering if you see them as capable, and that kind of uncertainty can become doubt in their performance or unhappiness with their position in the firm.
The internal benefits of delegation
We’ve discussed delegation as an efficient allocation of resources and time. More important than the health of your profit margins is that of the people who create them. Delegation can help you create a very healthy balance in your firm between the professional, the mental, the physical and the emotional. The American Institute of Stress cautions against the severe effects of work-related tension in high-stress occupations (of which the legal profession is certainly one):
“The severity of job stress depends on the magnitude of the demands that are being made and the individual’s sense of control or decision-making latitude he or she has in dealing with them. Scientific studies based on this model confirm that workers who perceive they are subjected to high demands but have little control are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease.”
A great contributor to combating these negative effects is introducing organizational change which promotes the feeling of being more in control of one’s work tasks. For senior partners in a law firm the reduced stress of delegation will allow them to narrow their avenue of focus and gain some breathing room, while their delegation has the added benefit of increasing both a sense of control and morale for those beneath them. Communicating with your team and guiding them with their increasing projects will pay off.
Delegation develops talent and trust
Younger partners will feel trusted, capable and able to grow in experience and confidence as their workload increases. This in turn creates trust toward management among lower-tier employees that their superiors have faith in them. Delegation breeds a more experienced, effective staff and ultimately a more successful firm. The hard facts continue to back up the positive impact of delegation. Depending on the size and expertise your firm’s earnings could increase anywhere from 20% to 50% according to this study by the Harvard Business Review.
Some further thoughts
In the end, only you can decide which tasks to delegate and to whom. Every firm is unique with equally unique staff. Ultimately all leaders must take responsibility. The question is: what would you like to be responsible for? Mistakes are unavoidable in business but through effective delegation you’ll become responsible for far more progress than you will problems.
You can have the same faith in your team as you have in yourself if you invest your time, experience and budget where necessary. Start small with delegating if that’s what makes you comfortable and leave room for development, questions and error. Let your people grow and you’ll free yourself and your practice to grow right along with them.
At Boss Certified Realtime Reporting we’ve been providing nationwide court reporting services for trials, depositions, mediations and more since 1995. If you’d like help or more information, you can call us at 954 467 6867 or complete our contact form to let us know how we can assist.