The legal industry can be a mixture of things, both good and not so good. People tend to focus on the things that drive them, whether it’s the bottom line of fee income, helping clients or having to make what some people may see as ruthless decisions for the success of the business. However, I also see leaders in firms who consider people as their biggest asset, whether that is their staff, suppliers or their clients, and who lead by example and deal with making decisions in an ethical way.
There will always be occasions where decision makers in a firm and managers/supervisors must deliver difficult news. It is often the case that is not the news itself that can leave individuals disappointed or upset, but the way that news was delivered.
Throughout my career I have always tried to put myself in the shoes of the person at the receiving end of the news, good or bad, and consider how that person may be feeling. And key to that is wherever possible engage in face to face conversations.
With the technology we have around us, I do think that we sometimes use it as a barrier to avoid these difficult conversations. However, emails and instant messages can easily come across in a way that we didn't intend, and where they have used them to “save time” can be counterproductive, leaving us to deal with the fall out from the miscommunication. Worse still, I have seen individuals delegate the task to someone else who is clearly not equipped to handle such situations.
The key to successful communication is to have considered the best approach beforehand and considered the best interests of the recipient. We may not always get it right, but this can be a great starting point. We all hold the key to effective communication within our firm – have you revisited yours to make sure the key is used in the best way?