Lockdown is clearly leading to motivation at work issues. I’ve asked more than a thousand lawyers over the last ten years what motivates them at work. To what extent is it a high salary? Or is it status, congeniality, security, achievement, recognition, autonomy, responsibility?
The results are somewhat consistent and perhaps not surprising. What is surprising is the extent to which their supervisors are behaving in ways that demotivate them!
What Motivates Lawyers
A minority claim that what motivates them is a high salary or bonus. US lawyers have money as a higher priority – maybe because of the high cost of their legal education.
But the vast majority confirm that the main motivators relate to the work itself. It’s receiving challenging work that provides a sense of responsibility, autonomy and ultimately achievement. And it’s being appreciated and recognised for their contribution
What Demotivates Lawyers
A surprising number of lawyers say they are not given stretching work. Their workload seems trivial and mundane. They also say that they don’t feel valued or appreciated.
I receive comments that there seems to be an unequal allocation of work and they sense others are not pulling their weight.
Other aspects that demotivate lawyers are:
- Not receiving any constructive feedback
- Others taking the credit for your work
- Inefficient matter management
- Poor work-life balance
- Supervisors who are overly nit-picky
Advice to Supervisors
- Try finding out what motivates and demotivates junior lawyers in your team. Ask what matters they’ve enjoyed most and least.
- Consider more carefully what stretching work you can delegate. Try to avoid the view that ‘it’s easier to do it myself!’
- Delegate thoroughly so juniors know how best to carry out the work. This minimises the risks of work needing to be redone.
- Give constructive feedback so junior lawyers can learn. This is particularly important for Millennials.
- Say ‘well done’ more often. And make these real by being specific about what was good.
Remember, all your new hires almost certainly started off very motivated to be great lawyers. Let’s try to keep it that way!
It’s more challenging motivating team members during lockdown. Let’s get better at it!
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