866-987-4111

Fields marked with an * are required

Sign up for our newsletter

Posts tagged with "executive coaching"

The Generational Disconnect Between Law Firm Partners & Associates

By: David B. Sarnoff, Esq., With Natalie Loeb, Gordon Loeb & David Robert

Editorial Note: We changed the names of those interviewed for this article to maintain their anonymity.

When I was a junior associate in the mid-1990s, partners and associates were able to connect over common life experiences, in how we grew up and began our careers. Even though many of the partners were more than 20 years my senior, we were all raised before the Internet and cell phones, we were content with seven channels on television, we went to the movies and rode our bikes to the park. Despite the technological advancements in the 90s, many functions at our firm were still being done manually or with limited automation. I recall bates stamping documents by hand and researching caselaw in a physical library with the help of books (gasp!), digests, reporters, and supplements.[1]

Over 20 years later, law firm life has changed dramatically. We often hear from our leadership training clients about the generational disconnect between junior associates and partners, creating challenges to a productive workplace culture. The common threads in these stories include a lack of mutual understanding of each other’s needs, how others communicate, give and receive feedback, and collaborate.  This may be the result of having fewer common life experiences than with the previous generation.

I spoke at length with an attorney, Michael, who has practiced law for over 25 years and was a partner at an AmLaw 100 firm. He recalled the excitement he felt after graduating from a prestigious law school and starting his career at a large New York firm. From the first day on the job, he felt a deep sense of commitment to the firm and aspired to be a partner. He doesn’t see the same commitment from the new generation of associates.

Michael discussed how when he was a junior associate the practice of law involved more human interaction, collaboration, and mentoring. With respect to the law firm library culture, he said, “I would analogize it to the college experience. At the law library, there were always a group of young associates talking to one another at the reference desk or at each other’s table.” Practicing law was a social activity. “I think it built some esprit de corps,” Michael added, and would lead to establishing relationships outside of work.

Document reviews, or due diligence trips, presented additional opportunities for attorneys to strengthen their bond. During the early part of Michael’s career, he would frequently join junior and senior attorneys to off-site trips to review thousands of pages of documents that were stored in a warehouse. The document review in many respects was an opportunity to essentially live together in the same hotel, eat together at the same restaurants, and engage in informal chit-chat that increased the degree of awareness and collaboration across the team. Although the document reviews could slip into the mundane, Michael appreciated the opportunity to connect with his peers. “Document review trips felt like being in the trenches,” he recalled. “You got to know people better and there was that sense of shared experiences.”

With the technological explosion in law over the past decade in e-discovery and artificial intelligence, there are fewer of these extended document review trips. “The law library has been rendered almost extinct,” Michael shared, underscoring the sentiment of many of his contemporaries. Millions of documents are now streamed through servers to an attorney’s desk and, in many ways, law can be practiced without ever leaving one’s office. That’s certainly inconsistent with how Michael was trained. “The practice of law has become a lonely experience,” Michael said. “I can go days without seeing an associate.”

Shawn, another seasoned partner I spoke with, shares some of Michael’s perspective. He sees erosion in the sense of urgency among junior associates, partly due to the changing dynamic between partners and associates. “Small firms are trying to take my clients and big firms are trying to take my clients,” Shawn said. “It is so hard to bring in business but so easy to lose a client when mistakes are made, or a client feels disrespected.”

Shawn sees a lack of understanding across the associate ranks of the practice of building and retaining strong client relationships. Practicing law isn’t always glamorous. The small transactional tasks can be just as important as the richer assignments, but associates don’t always share that same perspective. “When I give assignments, I’m occasionally greeted with an eye roll,” he shared. “Associates need to understand that each assignment, no matter how mundane, is critical to solidifying the firm/client relationship which helps grow more business and profitability.”

“I am still waiting to get a junior me as an associate,” Michael said, although he knows that is unlikely given the generational divide.

Not all partners see these emerging challenges as directly related to a generational gap. “I have never had to deal with so many spreadsheets and reports,” said Cathryn, a partner who has been practicing law since the early 1990s. She points to a shift within her firm toward hyper examination of compensation, expenses, and investments. She describes the shift as the legal profession morphing into the legal business. She doesn’t think the generational gap is contributing to the firm’s challenges to the degree that others may assert. “The quality of the associates hasn’t changed in 15 years,” she said.

When reflecting on firm culture today, Cathryn offered some advice to both associates and partners. She advised associates to “align yourself with good lawyers and people who can give good guidance. Learn from firm leaders.” As for firm leadership, “If you want top talent, then understand top talent doesn’t want to work 24/7. Firms need to offer professional development so associates feel valued.”

Kim, an HR Director with many years of big law experience, couldn’t agree more. “A lot of things get blamed on the Millennial generation simply because they are young,” she said. “There is a lot of ageism against the younger associates.” And Kim doesn’t hold back on why there might be challenges between partners and associates. “Millennials are less likely to take crap and they will express themselves. That is not something that generally happened 20 years ago.” Kim’s perspective hits a chord with many of the recruiters I spoke to as well. “Millennials demand more and if they are not heard they will move,” Kim said. “Because there is such a negative stereotype around Millennials, firms aren’t listening to what associates are saying and are dismissing their concerns.”

Michael supports Kim’s call for action. “Leaders need to be responsive to needs and desires,” he said. “Young lawyers may want a lot of different things and that doesn’t make them bad or ineffective people.” Michael encourages partners to recognize that the conventional model has changed, and that firms can be trailblazers on Millennial engagement only if they are willing to change. But he knows that change at a typical law firm moves at a glacial pace. “Firms need to cultivate their second- and third-year associates,” Michael added.

Associates clearly offer a differing perspective on law firm life. “We work hard, bill big hours and make sacrifices to perform at a high level,” said Jennifer, an associate at a large firm. “No matter how much a firm will promote long-term growth opportunities and the chance to make partner, we obviously see that only a small number make it every year.” Jennifer shared many stories about the pressures of the associate role and why she feels somewhat cynical. “It’s just not an honest conversation and that is why some associates don’t aspire to partnership because they believe firms are not dedicated to their development as an attorney or leader.”

Other associates shared Jennifer’s perspective, particularly as it relates to partner expectations. “We are placed in a difficult situation where we are told we don’t take initiative and simply wait to be given instructions,” Jennifer adds. “However, we are not permitted to act alone, and I can’t contact a client directly without running it through a senior associate or partner.”

Carla, a partner at a different firm, added yet another perspective on the changing times within the legal field. She said that while there still needs to be improvement in women leadership and partner development, it is much better than when she was coming up the ranks nearly 30 years ago.  She describes the reaction from her firm leadership when she told the partners she was pregnant. “I felt as if I had to apologize, because some partners viewed it as a lack of seriousness in working toward partnership.”

It’s safe to state that the practice of law is being disrupted at a rapid pace. Clients are commoditizing services, competition to retain clients and talent is fierce, and there’s an awakening spreading across the industry to the acceptance that a firm’s legal expertise may not be enough. Perhaps the caliber and effectiveness of the internal relationships, particularly between partners and associates, may be the necessary focus for long-term firm success.

“Rather than focus on what separates us, maybe this is the right time to start a conversation about what unites us,” said David Robert, Chief Strategy Officer at Loeb Leadership Development Group. “People gravitate to the legal profession for a compelling reason. We may find that partners and associates have more in common than we think. Let’s start there.”

A mid-level associate, Stephanie, suggests some examples that could begin to build a bridge.  “As a young associate, I feel that partners often underestimate the value of our presence during court proceedings, depositions, or any instances of client interaction. Even if we’re simply there to silently shadow, the opportunity alone allows us to absorb skills and techniques that we’re not exposed to through document review or legal research.”  She continues, “The ability to shake hands and introduce ourselves to clients allows us to begin establishing relationships that will ideally strengthen the clients’ connection to the firm.”

Additionally, Stephanie offers other opportunities to connect, including, “Professional development seminars, particularly “lunch and learn” discussions, with partners, are incredibly beneficial. Law school courses don’t address the true nuts and bolts of the industry or impart expertise that can only be gained through experience. The sheer wealth of knowledge and experience that partners possess, position them to be the ultimate educators for the next generation of lawyers,” she concluded.

Natalie Loeb, Founder and CEO of Loeb Leadership Development Group, sums it up this way, “Approach your work with your colleagues, teammates, bosses, clients, and direct reports with a sense of curiosity, a dose of empathy and a willingness to have a two-way discussion… and close the gap.”

INFORMATION ON THE AUTHORS:

DAVID B. SARNOFF, ESQ., is Director of Strategic Partnerships of Loeb Leadership Development Group and an Executive Coach. dsarnoff@loebleadership.com,  866-987-4111.

 

NATALIE LOEB is Founder and CEO of Loeb Leadership

Development Group and a Leadership Coach. natalie@loebleadership.com, 866-987-4111.

 

GORDON LOEB is COO of Loeb Leadership Development

Group and an Executive Coach. gordon@loebleadership.com, 866-987-4111.

 

DAVID ROBERT is Chief Strategy Officer of Loeb Leadership Development Group

david@loebleadership.com, 866-987-4111.

[1] Bates stamping is the process of applying a set of identifying numbers to a document collection.  When I was an associate, it was done with a hand-held device called a Bates Stamp.

Distractions Can Derail You

We live in an age of endless distractions. Our phones are constantly alerting us with email and social media notifications, and our desktops make it all too easy to click on a video or news article. It seems we just can’t get away from these distractions no matter how hard we try to escape them. Many of us have days where we feel it takes a tremendous sum of energy just to stay on-task.

How can we avoid these distractions, especially when they are unwelcome, unanticipated and quite frankly, a nuisance? What measures can you take to fight back?

How to Stand Strong Against Distraction

Here are some suggested methods to keep your mind focused on the tasks at hand.

Prioritize your day. For most of us, distractions become more seductive as the day wears on.  Prioritizing your day to manage your pressing matters and important tasks should be handled first thing in the morning—knocking them out while you’re as focused as can be.

Stick to your plan. It is a smart practice to create a checklist of things to be accomplished for the day. Set realistic goals that align with the number of tasks and time required to complete each task and stay on point. If you overwhelm yourself, you may fall susceptible to seek out distractions to manage the undue stress – essentially doing the opposite of your intended plan.

Turn off your phone. No, really. And while you’re at it, turn off any notifications on your computer. These distractions can seem insurmountable sometimes, but the good news is you have the ability to control it – turn them off.

Sleep well. You need your eight hours each night. Again, lack of sleep can decrease your energy and stamina, meaning when distraction comes, you are less likely to resist it.

Acknowledge your progress. After completing a task, get into the routine of taking a quick breather, and make sure you cross the item off your to-do list. This is a great way to get closure, and to have a little momentum for the next task.

Get physical. Science confirms again and again that physical activity—even a quick burst of it—can focus your mind and clear away some of those cumbersome distractions. You don’t have to spend an hour at the gym to get these effects. Walk up and down a flight of stairs once or twice, or close your office door and do a minute of jumping jacks.

Eat a meal. Skipping meals makes you more prone to distraction. Why? For one thing, your blood sugar drops, and as such your stamina and your energy decline. Also, the actual act of sitting and chewing can have a “reset” effect on your mind. Take at least half an hour for lunch and start the afternoon with a fresh canvas.

With these tips, you can be more resilient in the face of distraction—and hopefully get more work done each day. To learn more about enhancing your workplace vim and vigor, reach out to Loeb Leadership Development Group today.

Keep Your Employees Happy and You’ll Keep Your Employees

High employee turnover is expensive. It costs money, time, and productivity – and it lowers morale. So it’s no surprise that today’s most innovative employers are investing as much as they can in employee retention.

As with any investment, however, you want a solid return. So knowing how to invest matters.

Most employers don’t have the resources, financial or physical, to install Olympic-sized pools, indoor rainforests, or NBA-regulation-sized basketball courts to keep their employees engaged and happy. The good news is they don’t have to.

Employers can ensure that team members feel valued and engaged by providing things like challenging work, a space conducive to productivity and efficiency, and a flexible approach to work-life balance.

Some examples:

  • Give team members the kind of space they need to do their best work. Provide those that need it a quiet place to focus and concentrate, while also offering open work spaces that enable collaboration and communication when necessary.
  • Offer competitive benefits like health insurance, life insurance, and a retirement-savings plan if you can.
  • Be flexible where possible in scheduling and PTO policies. Employees appreciate being trusted to know the best way for them to balance work and family/non-work commitments.
  • Delegate real responsibilities to your team members. We all have to do mundane tasks here and there, but those should be few and far between. Employees are happier when they feel that they are contributing value and are given autonomy.
  • Keep your employees in the loop. Certainly some business dealings require confidentiality, but where you can, share your big-picture mission with your team – and, as important, the way in which each member’s role contributes to the success of that mission.
  • Really listen to your employees. Encourage open communication with team leaders as to the good and bad of your company culture, specific workloads, or overall company direction.
  • Offer seemingly small perks, like a high-end coffee maker in the break room, free bagels or sandwiches on Fridays, or discounted gym memberships nearby. Little things that help employees feel appreciated go a long way.
  • And last, but certainly not least, thank employees for a job well done. This often gets lost in the shuffle. The expectation is that employees should do their jobs because they are being paid to. While that may be true, appreciating good work costs nothing yet is priceless in keeping employees happy.

You know your employees. Perhaps a foosball table in the breakroom will go over better than something like complimentary dry-cleaning delivery services. The point is that employee retention doesn’t have to drain your resources. If you focus your investment in your employees in a manner that keeps them feeling valued and engaged, it will be an investment well made.

We invite you to consider all the options available to you for boosting employee retention. Contact Loeb Leadership Development Group to learn more!

What No One Tells You About Being a Manager

Many professionals aspire to attain management level roles. In order to perform at a high level, it requires commitment, dedication, and the skill to build a cohesive team. No matter how you prepare to assume this position, there are inevitably some surprises that await you. Simply put, you don’t really know what it’s like to manage other employees until you do it.

Being an effective manager requires great effort, to not only achieve the goals of the organization, but also to build the relationships necessary to oversee a high functioning team. With that said, there are a few things to keep in mind when meeting the challenges of the position.

You’ll Be in the Spotlight

Your actions, and the way you conduct yourself in the workplace is always noticed by the other employees. You’ll be their example—so make sure you are modeling the behavior you expect from your team.

To that end, candor and communication are key. For example, if you need to leave work early or take a day off, you should explain to your team the reasons why you need to do so. So to, when one of your team members needs time off, they should feel comfortable approaching you and being forthright about their personal circumstances. If you leave this unexplained, the other employees may think you’re just leaving early for no reason, and they may believe that you lack the commitment the position holds.

It’s Easy to Misappropriate Your Time

When you are supervising employees with different skill levels, it is easy to misappropriate your time and not allocate your resources effectively. Just because an employee is productive and a high performer, it doesn’t mean that they don’t need guidance and feedback from a supervisor. Be mindful of spending too many resources on employees not meeting expectations, and who may not be right for the position.

It is common for managers to spend too much time with underperforming employees, at the expense of the other team members. One thing you should do early on is assess why these employees are falling behind. If it’s a lack of training, that’s something you can address proactively. If it’s that the team member is in the wrong role, that may also be an adjustment you can make. And if it’s a matter of cultural fit, you can decide whether coaching or termination is appropriate.

The bottom line is, managers need to appropriate their time effectively.

You’ll Be the Go-Between

Most of the time, the manager ends up becoming a liaison of sorts between employees and the corporate leadership team. It is of utmost importance that the manager fully understands the concerns of the employees, so they can be properly communicated and addressed.

There are potential challenges of being a liaison, as managers can often misconstrue the concerns of their team, and can in some cases, create conflict and confusion. It can also be a challenge to translate the company’s vision and goals, if they are not clear.

At the same time, your team will look to you for direction and answers regarding company policies and procedures, so it is helpful to be well versed, or know who to turn to in order to find the answers to questions asked.

As you prepare to become manager, make sure you are comfortable being a go-between.

Learn More About the Manager’s Role

As you seek to become a team leader, an executive coach can help you clarify expectations and develop the appropriate skills. We invite you to learn more about this process. Reach out to Loeb Leadership Development Group today!

An Executive’s Approach to Building an Effective Leadership Team

One of the hallmarks of a great leader is to identify the leadership potential in those around them, nurturing their people management skills and positioning them for continued success and development.  To effectively grow a firm or business, leadership is one of the most important driving forces, as it can inspire and motivate a workforce, and conversely, poor leadership can demoralize employees and encourage them to seek other opportunities.

Whether you’re hiring from the inside or casting a wider net, it is important to show care in your recruitment efforts. In this post, we have highlighted five skills you should be looking for as you build out your leadership team.

The Characteristics of Effective Leaders

Trust. The first trait you should look for in potential leaders is their ability to establish trust. Leaders do this by modeling the behavior they expect of others and holding themselves accountable to nurture a high trust culture.  Successful leaders establish trust by individually engaging members of their team, to build relationships both personally and professionally.

Vision. Seek out a candidate who can communicate the vision of your company—condensing it into a clear and succinct message, and getting other people excited about it. In order to achieve an effective message, communication needs to be authentic and sincere. It should also include input from the shareholders and stakeholders of the organization to solidify buy-in.

Commitment. There is a saying — Commitment is the glue that bonds you to your goals. Leaders who are driven by achieving goals tend to play a role in motivating and inspiring those around them.  Look for leaders who view their role as being part of something greater than themselves and demonstrate follow through.

Organization. Any department leader or division chair you hire is going to provide employees with a roadmap, showing both short-term and long-term goals and clarifying key processes. That’s going to require a high level of organization. Look for leaders who can take complex concepts, ideas, and methodologies and break them down into digestible and easily understood processes or actions.

Communication. This is arguably the most important skill a leader can have, so make sure you emphasize this for any leadership position. A good leader excels in both written and verbal communication and can deliver a message with key takeaways and no confusion. Additionally, leaders in a high trust culture encourage the sharing of constructive feedback – so it is important to identify a leader that has the capacity to foster that environment.

These are some of the touchstones to keep in mind as you look for employees with the potential to lead—and remember: Those who show potential may still need development. To learn more about nurturing new and effective leadership in your company, contact Loeb Leadership Development Group today.

How to be Mindful When Engaging a Potential Mentor

Mentorship can be a rewarding experience for mentor and mentee alike. In today’s corporate environment, the mentoring process offers an exchange of knowledge and experience for both participants and has proven to be beneficial for career advancement. However, the process is also a real commitment, that requires time, patience, and dedication.

As with any task or goal that is worthwhile, obtaining a mentor requires commitment and a growth mindset. It is important to be self-aware and be open to an honest and introspective dialogue. The benefits can be limitless. The first person you ask may not be available to mentor you, but if you continue to search for a mentor that aligns with your goals, you will eventually find one that says yes.

Maybe the mentor you seek is a more senior attorney who works at your law firm, or a seasoned professional who you met at a networking event or industry conference. Before you approach this individual and ask them to take you under their wing, make sure you have a good sense of how to ask—laying bare your expectations, and acknowledging the commitment you’re asking this individual to make on your behalf.

It Starts with Gratitude

Once you make some preliminary connection with your potential mentor, send an email asking them if they are willing to meet with you. Be clear about your intentions entering into this relationship.

It’s important that this initial message be grounded in a grateful attitude. You’re asking them for an investment of their time, and you shouldn’t act entitled to it. Instead, make it clear that you’re thankful for whatever time they can offer you.

On a related note: Be respectful and aware that your mentor has a lot of demands on their time already, whether professionally or personally. Avoid hasty follow-up emails if they don’t respond right away.

Also, when you email them, it’s okay to mention some of the reasons you think they’d be a good mentor, and to note your admiration of them—but don’t cross the line into “buttering them up.” Try to avoid listing all the bullet points from their resume in an effort to flatter.

In the Initial Meeting

When you meet with your mentor for the first time, you should focus on establishing a personal rapport and get to know each other’s backgrounds. Finding common interests can be beneficial to the mentor/mentee relationship. Next, create a foundation for communication that helps facilitate a free flow of thoughts and ideas, and establish a basis for trust and confidentiality.

Here are some additional tips for continued communication with your mentor:

  • Be clear about what it is you’re looking for; guidance, coaching or to shadow them at their job.
  • Ask your mentor how he or she would like to communicate; by phone, email, Skype, or in person?
  • Commit to a regular schedule of meetings. Again, be mindful of your mentor’s time, but do try to set up a consistent meeting time—once a week, once a month, or whatever other rhythm you can agree on.
  • Be willing to put in some work. Ask your mentor if they have any “homework” you should do between now and your next meeting—and whatever it is, take it seriously!
  • Finally, remember that a potential mentor may simply not have the hours in the day to take you on right now, and this probably isn’t anything personal. Be gracious if they respectfully decline your request.

Identifying an individual who exemplifies a similar vision of success, and who you feel offers the experience and wisdom that you want to align yourself with, is worth the risk of asking. Use these tips to initiate a mentor/mentee relationship that will begin your journey.

To learn more about the value of workplace coaching and mentorship, contact the Loeb Leadership Development Group team today.

Is Your Law Firm One Bus Hit Away from Chaos? The Urgency of Succession Planning

By:  Natalie Loeb, Gordon Loeb & David B. Sarnoff, Esq.

Succession planning in the corporate world is vital to the survival of the entity beyond the involvement of its founders – does your firm have a plan for future leadership? For companies that sell products, proprietary programs and services, succession of leadership typically doesn’t affect the quality of the product or service.  However, law firms and other professional service companies can be greatly impacted by the death or departure of a highly skilled practitioner or rainmaker.   Many law firms are created by individuals who either have an expertise in a specific practice area and/or have established relationships that produce revenues to sustain the ongoing operation of the firm.  A significant challenge facing law firms of all sizes, is how to establish a stable business model that can survive and withstand changes in key personnel.

First, let’s start with the definition of “succession planning:”

“Identification and development of potential successors for key positions in an organization, through a systematic evaluation process and training. Unlike replacement planning (which grades an individual solely on the basis of his or her past performance) succession planning is largely predictive in judging an individual for a position he or she might never have been in.”[1] 

The goal of any succession plan should be to elevate the most qualified individuals who can maintain and improve the firm’s production, culture and leadership.  Succession planning is not an easy undertaking and requires strong leadership, a supportive culture, humility, objectivity and the absence of outsized egos.  Given the fact that many law firms are controlled by the individuals who produce the most revenue, or their closely associated allies, succession planning can present difficult challenges to initiating the planning process.

According to David Robert, a leading Organizational Development Professional who has substantial experience working with law firms, “Effective succession planning is guided by three factors: (1) What role(s) are you focusing on, (2) how will you objectively evaluate successor readiness, and (3) how will you engage and develop your successors prior to their transition into the new role?”  In addressing the first question, the management of a law firm must identify the leadership positions of the firm that need to be staffed and sustained in order to successfully run the business of the firm.  Succession planning does not only apply to the attorney side of the firm, it also applies to business services positions such as the firm’s COO and CHRO.

“Successor readiness,” is a key element to planning for the future.  To properly evaluate an individual’s practical legal skills, leadership abilities and assess intangibles such as emotional intelligence (“EI”) requires an objective eye.  Often, rivalries, firm politics and a toxic culture can derail the succession planning process.  In many cases, firms will engage external consultants such as OD professionals and executive coaches to assist with the design and implementation of the planning process. These professionals are generally certified in personality, leadership and values assessments, to assist in designing and outlining the necessary training to prepare future leadership.

Once you have the right pieces in place to enact a plan, it is critical to have a fair process established to encourage participation from firm stakeholders.  As the succession planning team identifies possible successors, they must agree on how to approach that individual about being considered for a leadership role and whether that person is interested in being considered for this future role.  Assuming they are, the planning team should explain the purpose of the succession plan, what the firm’s process would be and the time frame in which it will be carried out.  There should be complete transparency about the process so that there are no misunderstandings or unintended surprises during the process.  This is not an easy undertaking, especially when multiple people are being considered for the position.  Obviously, personal feelings, professional relationships, egos and competition impact the process.

It is likely that a law firm management team that initiates a succession planning program has a supportive firm culture.  However, a crucial question that David Robert raises is, “How does a firm’s culture influence the likelihood of a successful succession planning process?”  He continues, “for succession planning to ignite engagement and motivation across a firm, the process must be transparent, fair and objective. As soon as a partner bypasses the formal process and goes all in to advocate for a sacred cow, the process immediately loses credibility and could adversely impact engagement.”

Many law firms have stood the test of time and have existed and thrived for decades.  However, there are law firms, including several that were once ranked in the AmLaw 200 that no longer exist because of significant lateral departures, planned retirements or turmoil that ultimately brought an end to the firm.

There are many factors that can contribute to the demise of a law firm.  However, with a transparent, authentic and thoughtful succession planning process, a firm can harness significant buy-in from its stakeholders and rally support for the leaders that are selected to assume a higher-level role at an agreed upon time.  The process also allows for the individuals up for consideration to receive high caliber coaching, training and development to be equipped for the challenge.  The succession planning process positions new leaders to establish themselves and works to ensure the survival and vitality of the firm.

 

INFORMATION ON THE AUTHORS:

NATALIE LOEB is the Founder of Loeb Leadership

Development Group and an Executive Coach.

She can be contacted at natalie@loebleadership.com,

866-987-4111, or www.loebleadership.com.

 

GORDON LOEB is the COO of Loeb Leadership Development

Group and an Executive Coach.

He can be contacted at gordon@loebleadership.com,

866-987-4111, or www.loebleadership.com.

 

DAVID B. SARNOFF, ESQ., is the Principal of Sarnoff Group

LLC, an Executive Coach and a consultant to Loeb

Leadership Development Group.

He can be contacted at david@sarnoffgroup.com,

646-665-4899 or www.sarnoffgroup.com, and

dsarnoff@loebleadership.com, 866-987-4111, or

www.loebleadership.com.

 

[1] Business Dictionary, www.businessdictionary.com

Recognizing the Symptoms of Burnout

As a leader, one of the most important things you can do for your team is provide them with a work environment where burnout is taken seriously—and where appropriate, preemptive measures are in place to avoid it.

A good starting point is to simply recognize the signs of burnout. Burnout is not just a feeling of overwhelming stress; that’s just the new norm. Burnout is something more pervasive and longer lasting.

Do You Know the Signs of Burnout?

It manifests in different ways for different people—but there are a few signs and symptoms of burnout that are fairly common.

  1. Exhaustion. Again, it’s important to make a distinction: Everyone experiences fatigue at some time during their work week. It is when you observe continued physical, mental, or emotional exhaustion, that there may be a sign of burnout.
  2. Lack of motivation. The employee who’s struggling with burnout probably won’t have much pep in their step; they may have a hard time summoning the enthusiasm to do anything more than the bare minimum. When employees are simply coasting through their work, it’s often burnout-related.
  3. Irritability.Burnout makes every little problem or inconvenience seem more frustrating. Those with irritability can be categorized as bitter or intolerant and may sometimes have a short fuse – they may even snap at the people around them.
  4. Cognitive problems. Burnout saps mental ability and can manifest as a slip in work performance—poor quality, missed deadlines, or more frequent mistakes are clear signs there is an issue.
  5. Unhealthy coping methods. Those who are dealing with burnout may try to self-medicate, which can look like smoking, drinking, eating too much junk food, or staying up late watching TV or playing games instead of getting sufficient rest.
  6. Preoccupation. Finally, an insidious form of burnout is being preoccupied with work—even when you’re not at work. Employees who descend into a “workaholic” mindset, neglecting work-life balance, may have burnout to blame for it.

Avoid Burnout. It Starts with Awareness

Typically, burnout isn’t something that affects just one employee. It’s usually cultural and systemic—so if you have one employee exhibiting these signs, it’s worth gauging whether others might be struggling in similar ways.

Be ready to recognize what burnout looks like—and if you have employees who struggle with it, help them seek the assistance they need. Consider evaluating your workplace culture, as burnout can be associated with organizational dysfunction!

There are many effective methods to alleviate the symptoms of burnout and provide a productive work culture. Reach out to Loeb Leadership Development Group to learn more.

How to Make Your Meetings More Effective

The phrase “necessary evil” is overused, but for many of us, there is no better way to describe workplace meetings. Although intended to produce results, poorly structured or misguided meetings can be ineffective and a waste of precious time.

With “Collaboration” at the top of mind at many firms, it is more important than ever to structure meetings and provide the ground rules to be more productive. Effective meetings can produce results and positive takeaways, encouraging further collaboration amongst team members.

How to Keep Your Meetings Productive

Your allocation of time and resources may vary, depending on the size and nature of your team, but some general guidelines are as follows:

  1. Clarify who’s directing the meeting. It’s always best to have one person who is leading the meeting and who can clarify for the rest of the group what the focus of the meeting is. Be clear from the outset who’s directing, and what he or she hopes to achieve.
  2. Set clear start and end times. When the meeting is first scheduled, always be clear about when it starts and when it ends and stick with it! If there is still unfinished business at the meeting’s end, either schedule a follow-up or encourage participants to work things out privately.
  3. Distribute materials in advance. You don’t want to waste valuable meeting time reviewing data together, so instead distribute stats and reports in advance—allowing participants to get up to speed and arrive at the meeting ready for discussion.
  4. Leave devices outside. This one is tough to implement, and at some companies may be impossible—but if you can encourage participants to leave their phones and tablets in their offices, you can maximize mindful engagement and get rid of needless distractions.
  5. Stick to the meeting agenda. Have a written structure to your meeting—a list of topics and decisions that need to be addressed —and stick with them. If talks drift into unrelated matters, the meeting leader’s job is to refocus the group.
  6. Abide by the two-minute rule. A good way to ensure everyone has their say: Allow each participant to have a full two minutes to share their thoughts—without anyone else jumping in with interruptions.
  7. Review action items. At the end of the meeting, clarify the next steps meeting participants need to take—including the action plan for all decisions made together as a group.

Meetings, if not structured effectively, can be wasteful—but by applying these strategies, you are more likely to have a productive meeting.

Learn more about the best ways of running efficient, effective meetings by reaching out to the executive coaching team at Loeb Leadership Development Group.

Develop the Right Morning Routines

Being productive means making every minute count. One of the best ways you can do that is to start each morning right, laying the foundation for energy, focus, and savvy time management all day long.

That’s why many of the most productive leaders have morning routines in place—structures and rituals that allow them to get things accomplished before other people even get out of bed!

There’s no one “right” routine, but there are some basic guidelines and suggestions you can consider.

Formulating Your Morning Routine

Manage your creative energy. One of the first things you should do is take a self-inventory: When are you most energized? When are you most focused and creative? If you tend to be more creative in the morning (as many of us are), be intentional about blocking off that time on your schedule, using it to get creative work done. Schedule meetings, phone calls, and administrative tasks for later in the day, when that creative energy starts to wane.

Prepare for the next day. Another important step is to take the last 10 minutes of each work day to prepare for the next morning. Draft a to-do list, and lay out any papers or materials you’ll need. Be ready to hit the ground running as soon as you get into work.

Give yourself a break from email. This one is hard to do, but it’s worth it. Emails (and social media messages) can drain your energy, overwhelm you, or simply distract you—so put them off for a few hours until you get some work done. Turn off your notifications. Save email until noon if at all possible.

Take care of your body and mind. Always leave room in the morning for the basics of good health—eating a nutritious breakfast and taking a few minutes for physical activity. Yes, this may mean waking up a little earlier, or getting to work a little later—but it will pay off in the form of energy throughout the day, allowing you to get a lot more accomplished.

Be positive. Another thing to consider is spending a few minutes each morning on something that brings you joy—allowing you to start the day with a positive outlook. This can yield more patience, more focus, and heightened problem-solving abilities. Consider just a few minutes each morning meditating, doing yoga, reading a good book, or listening to music that you like—whatever gets you into your “happy place.”

Good Mornings Yield Good Days

Of course, not every morning is going to go smoothly. Things happen, and fires need to be put out. But it’s worth having a basic routine in place so that you know what a productive morning looks like, and can aim for it whenever possible. Ultimately, building these disciplines can help you get a lot more done, all day long.

Another way to get more accomplished? Work with an executive coach. We’d love to consult with you and help you reach your professional goals more efficiently. Contact Loeb Leadership Development Group to learn more.