Let’s face it. Should I stay or should I go is a question that even the most loyal employee will ponder at one time or another. If you are leading an in-house legal team and you are interested in retaining talent, it is important that you recognize this as a fact.
It does not matter if you give your team members the chance to work remotely and you pay them a competitive salary. You may remain at risk for losing that team member. How can you improve your chances of retaining that team member?
1. Pull your team in; don’t hold them at an arm’s length. There are some people who would say that as a leader you need to stay at an arm’s length from those people with whom you work. That is not the way I want to work.
When you keep those people with whom you work at an arm’s length, connecting with them becomes harder. When you fail to connect with them on a personal level, you will often find yourself in the dark about those things that matter most. You will never know what’s really on their minds until it’s too late.
So how do you build healthy relationships with those people with whom you work?
You start by letting them know you care. In the words of John Maxwell, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
You can be most effective when you can create an environment where those people with whom you work feel valued, included, and heard.
You can show you care by keeping people informed. To the extent you can, don’t just rely on formal office communications. Talk to people about what it is that is happening around them even if you don’t have all the answers.
When you talk to them and not at them, it can make all the difference in the world. It should be a conversation and not a lecture. The better you are at having conversations, the deeper the connection you can form with your team.
2. You give your team a sense of purpose; you don’t make it all about just completing tasks. Successful in-house leaders recognize the importance of making it about more than just completing everyday tasks. Successful in-house leaders also recognize the importance of creating a shared sense of purpose for everyone on the team.
When everyone has a shared sense of purpose, it is easier for your team members to form an emotional attachment to whatever they are doing. When that emotional attachment exists, it can bring the team together and create a sense of togetherness and belonging.
3. Empower your team to do; don’t do for your team. Chances are, if you are leading a legal team, you have a proven track record as a problem solver. You know how to get things done.
As a leader of a legal team, however, your job is no longer just about solving problems.
When your team comes to you with problems, your first instinct will be to try to solve the problem for them. This is an urge you should resist.
Success as a leader is all about developing your team and empowering them to identify and solve problems for themselves.
At the end of the day, it may not matter what you do. Talented lawyers will come and they will go, but, if you have done your job well as a leader, you may be able to increase the length of time your talented team members remain with you and your company.
Lisa Lang is an in-house lawyer and thought leader who is passionate about all things in-house. She has recently launched a website and blog Why This, Not That™ to serve as a resource for in-house lawyers. You can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org, connect with her on LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter.