We just returned from an intensive two day Practice Growth Program in which we discussed the value of implementing systems in the law firm. Because systems implementation requires a substantial behavioral change on the part of the attorney’s team, and team members are prone to resist change, we also discussed how to maximize team acceptance. Many of the attorneys present had experienced resistance when they attempted to change their procedures in the past. Whether it came in the form of silent non-compliance or vocal objections, their team members had successfully resisted their attempts to make changes.
Fortunately, it doesn’t always have to be so painful to get team members to embrace change. First of all, it’s important that team members be included in the process right from the start. New procedures will always be more successful if the team’s ideas can be incorporated from the beginning – after all, they have the most hands-on experience with many law office procedures and are in an excellent position to make recommendations. It’s also important to demonstrate how the new system makes the team’s life easier because it accomplishes the result faster or more conveniently.
From a psychological perspective, if increasing the law firm’s profitability is the incentive given for implementing the new system, the team may not be sufficiently motivated. If, however, the incentives involved in making the change involve a bonus for the team members, the team members will be more motivated.
Keep in mind that a good leader always emphasizes how his or her team personally benefits from any change that is required. The law firm may also benefit from increased speed or enhanced profitability, but that won’t sell the idea to the stressed out team members who already believe the firm is making plenty of profit. Be smart and show team members how their life is improved by making the changes you want.
Your team will embrace new ways of doing things, if the changes can:
- Make the team member’s life easier by streamlining/reducing steps
- Save the team member time
- Incorporate the team member’s ideas
- Lead to the team member making more money in the future