• 5 Tips for Building a Perfect Team for Your Law Firm or Business

     Your law firm may have a beautiful office space, a spacious conference room, and the best technology; but, how great is your team? The prosperity of your law firm or business vastly depends on the quality of your team and whether or not the team is motivated to work together like a harmonious unity. Team building requires a deep understanding of the people and what makes them stick together – it’s you who has what it takes to put the puzzle together. Here are a few tips that can help you rally up the dream team ; they are actually the mottos that are carved in the back of my head when I run my firm):


    1. Evaluate yourself first: As a leader, what kind of leadership vibe do you send out to your team? Authoritative, paternalistic, democratic, or transformational? Owning the firm does not make you a good leader.  Be honest to yourself and find out what about yourself that can be improved first. You will not go far if your employees do not appreciate you enough or fear you too much. Find that balance.

    My leadership style is more democratic, encouraging feedback and suggestions from my staff. The more open they are with me, the better I can improve in general. In my experience, I often meet with my team of lawyers, both as a group and individually, to find out how things are going. On top of that, I do the same kind of outreach with all the other administrative staffers too. I try my absolute best to listen to what they have to say and what frustrates them.  So be your own moderator, evaluate yourself often.

    2. Set specific and focused goals:  Team members can not succeed without a clear and focused set of realistic goals or without knowing what they position is on the team. Each team member can only thoroughly exude their own potential to achieve the same goal with clear guidance; otherwise it will lead to poor moral and performance.

    At our office, we train new hires extensively and re-train existing employees with new tasks. They have clear instructions to follow, which we set in manuals that are part of our system. We use an online tool called SweetProcess, which allows us to document tasks containing PDF files and even videos all hosted on the platform. Employees get consistent information right from the start – that makes their job easier. We often supervise employees’ performance and ask them if they want to take on new challenges in new departments. Always explain the why before they start the task.

    3. Study your team like a detective: You must investigate your team members and find out who they are. Just like evaluating yourself as a leader, and understanding your own strengths and weaknesses, you must know the people that are working for you. If you do, you will be able to relate to them accurately, assign them to corresponding roles, and build an inseparable community.

    Similar to a good detective, it may sound creepy but necessary, you should find out what keeps your teammates awake at night, what makes them happy, and who is their family? You need to know what makes them tick. It’s also a way of showing that you have invested the time and effort in learning about your most precious asset – your human talent.

    Business owners are undoubtedly and overwhelmingly busy; however, during our meetings, I make sure we don’t limit our time to only updating each other on projects, but also about things like how they spend their weekends, how the kids are doing at school, etc. Just like every office, collisions and conflicts take place. But because they know I actually listen like a friend instead of brushing them off, they always feel comfortable coming to me and letting me resolve the problem before spreading the negative energy to the entire office.

    So be a like a detective and study your team. If you do your research well, you can pair a visionary together with someone that works well under pressure.

    4. Establish team culture: All team members must share the company’s mission statement and vision and follow through with it. This is the only way to ensure the happenstance of success.  In my firm, we install our values through training and on-going interventions with the staff. Our mission statement is to be kind, helpful and effective with our clients. We can not tolerate employees who are not friendly, even if they are the best at what they do. I’d rather hire a less skilled worker with a good heart. We support and celebrate success at our firm. When lawyers win a case or achieve a milestone, I make sure it is celebrated.


    (Recently, Yingfei Zhou passed the California Bar, we celebrated her success together as a team at my firm.)

    So make sure you start building a thriving and encouraging culture early on.

    5. Keep the communication flowing: Don’t keep your people in the dark – be open and transparent as much as possible to avoid any escalation of issues later on. Announce major decisions and allow room for discussion. Offering your team members an equal opportunity of giving constructive criticism shows that you value diverse opinions.

    During our group or individual meetings, I even share the mock ups of our website design with the team while I take note of recommendations from our team and pass them back to the web design company.  Moreover, my staff gets to choose and determine the tone of our office’s décor and furniture.

    Keep the communication flowing, make the team part of the discussion, and they will love you like their own family.

    Great leaders are nothing and will accomplish nothing without an exceptional team. Building a perfect team, consisting of motivated minds, is a never-ending process. And a great team is also filled with appreciation and fun moments. Who doesn’t want to bring their business to a delightful team?

    Do you have an inspiring team-building story? Please leave me a comment below or email me at jacob@enchantinglawyer.com. I would love to hear from you or have a chat with you!

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