Legal careers are changing. The pace and nature of client work, the impact of new technology, global markets/Brexit, diversity targets and career aspirations are leading to changes both in opportunity and expectation for lawyers.
Essentially, and incontrovertibly, leadership makes a difference to company performance. When market and resource opportunities are scarce this impact is significantly amplified.
In the Borderless 2016 Leadership Development Survey, 54% of those polled considered that leadership development in their organisation was ineffective and nearly a third (29%) were unaware of any leadership development coaching or mentoring initiatives at all.
Gloomy reading from HR Magazine which recently reported that in 2015 34% of UK employees could not think of one occasion on which they felt motivated at work. The top motivators were said to be a good work/life balance (45%), a credible and motivating boss (25%), and a supportive and motivating team to work with (19%).
The difficulties with such studies is that whilst they are interesting and provide some useful pointers, they blur levels of meaningful detail which in this case relate to individual difference. It is a simple fact that people are different - they are motivated by different things and at different times. Their needs are different. Whilst 45% of respondents might have said that a good work/life balance was their main motivator, what that means will vary for all of them (and of course 55% didn't report it as their main motivator). We should also probe whether such external factors are actually motivating ones. Work in the area would suggest that they aren't. It is most likely to mean having control over working hours/location and flexibility.
In motivational science terms, the aspect of control is the most important feature. Unfortunately, the kind of approach reported seems to imply that people are a passive lump to which things can simply be done in order to achieve a different outcome. This thinking is probably at the heart of most disengagement and lack of motivation among people!
To enable people to do their best we need to engage with them (with each other!) as unique adults who have potential, and work with them to understand their drivers, values and needs. In collaboration, employer and employee may then create an optimal working arrangement.
In January I took part in The New World of Work at Cambridge University's Judge Business School. Through the day I coached a number of women all of whom had just returned to work after maternity leave or were about to do so. I anticipated that these sessions would focus on matters of work/life balance, time management, etc. Instead they all focused on problems and dissatisfactions in their careers such that every one of them wanted to talk about finding a suitable alternative career direction.
This won't come as a surprise to the authors of a London School of Business and Finance (LSBF) report that found that 47% of the UK professional workforce are looking to change careers. The implications of this - both in terms of potential staff turnover and the lack of engagement - are enormous. The percentage was much higher (66%) in millennials (18 to 35 year olds) - of these 54% intend to make a career move in two years or less. If we are to retain talented and performing people we need to ensure that they are finding their work appropriately rewarding. This is becoming increasingly important; the millennial generation is less willing to accept the conditions that older workers take for granted.
What are the key factors in career satisfaction? These vary from person to person (and an effective line manager will be attuned to these needs in his or her team) but are likely to include:
- clarity of role and goals
- appropriate recognition of value and contribution
- meaningful work that has a clear purpose
- work that enables each person to express his or her skills and attributes
- opportunity for advancement
- to be respected and supported
In our work we find that reports of career dissatisfaction almost always come as a surprise to the manager and employer. An effective, and simple, first step is to understand what satisfaction means to each person and then to ensure that it is meaningfully assessed.
38% of UK professionals surveyed don't want to make a major career change at this time because they report being satisfied in their jobs. Those engaged and performing well will predominantly be found among that 38%.
Why are some of your people performing well? What leads them to do so? What would change if all (or at least most) of your people performed at the same high level?
These are some of the questions we have been asking clients at the start of our people development programmes. Very often we find that the focus has been on under-performance and understanding what is lacking in people engagement. Less often do companies - and consultants for that matter - look at what is working really well and then learn from that information.
Your appraisal systems, whatever their structure, should enable you to identify who your high performers are. Once the appraisal, and perhaps rewards, process has been completed, what else do you do with the information?
Most companies do little, if anything, with this data. Utilising this information for both recruitment and development purposes can materially enhance performance, well-being and engagement. We employ robust and accurate personality and values psychometrics to assess high performers. We then weave these results into a comprehensive guidance package to support your recruitment activities and your management and development processes, such that more sensitive and personalised management can take place.
If you would like further information on the benefits you could achieve, or wish to discuss further, contact Sarah on email@example.com or call 07711 503382.
The world of leadership development is the subject of so many fads and fashions that many prefer to reject it entirely than be swept up in the latest trend or buzzword. It is therefore refreshing when a leadership theory emerges that is actually based on research and evidence.
A series of corporate scandals over the last fifteen years (Lehman's and RBS spring quickly to mind, and these are now joined by Volkswagen) have created the requirement and context for the theory of Authentic Leadership. This has been studied and written about for the last decade but until recently there had been no research looking at how leaders develop either authenticity or authentic leadership. [In the US, over $10bn is spent on leadership development each year despite, to date, little theoretical or empirical evidence to support it.]
What is authentic leadership? Authentic leadership is considered to encompass four key components:
For a number of years now the importance of effective employee engagement has been linked to high performance. Research by Towers Watson back in 2010 showed that highly-engaged employees who also had high levels of well-being were the most productive and happy employees.
The recent Research Insight report by Rachel Lewis and colleagues emphasises that bringing these together sustainably is essential in order to achieve the benefits of high performance. Addressing one or the other in isolation can result in highly engaged people burning out and leaving, or healthy, dis-engaged people staying and performing at a lower level.
See here for the full CIPD report on this research. To discuss engagement and well-being in your organisation do get in touch - email me firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01223 655667.
Despite the attention given in recent years to the need to support people back into the workplace following career breaks and maternity leave, the reality is that the same obstacles and difficulties remain.
84% of women on career breaks are keen to return to work...
67% consider retraining to a different job to achieve flexibility
In our work we encounter the problem from both angles: from our client organisations who struggle with the cost, both financial and in performance terms, of losing talented people from their companies, and from our private clients who struggle to make a successful return to work that will allow them to embrace the flexibility they need.
Cost to replace a lost professional starts at £8k+
Additional evidence of these difficulties comes from a new study which shows that 75% of people who are keen to return to work following a career break or maternity leave, consider that the workplace culture is too inflexible to enable it.
Support to return of critical importance
The study found that supportive factors included a culture of understanding among managers - eighty-eight per cent of respondents said a manager who wanted them to succeed was the most important reason for them to come back to work.
The need to ensure that flexible working arrangements are not only in place but actually implemented is critical, as is ensuring that returners and their managers are properly supported to ensure a successful transition back.
Time was when if your boss asked you to meet with an executive coach you knew you were either under-performing or possibly on the way out of the job. I can recall making appointments with senior executives having to sign in with a different jobtitle, such was the stigma involved. Thankfully those days are passed. Now most organisations use coaching in some form or other and the overwhelming majority report significant success and benefit in doing so (see our post 'Does Executive Coaching Work?'). So having moved on significantly from just using coaching as a remedial or 'last chance' development tool, what are the key focus areas organisations are looking to coaching for in the 21st century? [Tweet this]
According to a recent (2015) survey by Korn Ferry, the top development leadership themes for C-suite executives are:
UK organisations actively recognise the importance of retaining experienced and talented women in the workforce; at the same time a great many women wish to pursue long, successful careers. One could be forgiven for thinking that the "female talent retention" problem was solved. And yet, it is not news that women are under-represented in the workplace, particularly at senior levels. As the seniority levels rise, the proportion of women in them declines steadily. As an illustration, in the City of London women account for nearly half of the graduate intake at most big employers, and top earners continue to be split approximately 50-50 until the age of 29. After this age however the proportion drops over the next 14 years to just 28%.
This is the time when women typically start their families. According to the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT, October 2014) 67% of women surveyed are worried about the impact having children will have on their career. Nearly half of the 2,000 UK women polled consider that their current employment doesn't offer them the flexibility they would need to care for a family TWEET THIS. This is worrying - if a return to work after maternity leave is perceived to be difficult and incompatible with continuing career fulfilment and progression, women won't return. Indeed the AAT survey reports that balancing childcare and work commitments is cited as the main barrier to staying in employment for new mums. Nearly a quarter of new mums surveyed (24%) changed jobs after the birth of their babies and 67% considered retraining to another job entirely as a means of having greater flexibility at work. In more junior roles the picture is similar; after the birth of their babies women in such roles are significantly more likely to take less demanding part-time roles than return to their previous jobs.
For the many women who are not freely choosing to stay at home or to return to part-time work, this represents a frustrating dilemma - to be fulfilled and successful professionally or fulfilled personally - but not both. If organisations are serious about retaining talented women, at all levels, there must be changes in the way they support women to return to work after maternity. Implementing active steps to make it easy to return, for example in providing flexible hours, nursery provision, return to work bonuses and maternity coaching all play an important role.
We'd love to hear about your experiences - good or bad - either as an employer or as a parent.
For further details on our maternity coaching programmes and how we can help your organisation retain its valued women employees, check out our programmes, or phone or email us.