Over the past few weeks we have covered both the impact of the coronavirus and lockdown on our business and the businesses of our customers. What we have not covered, so far, is the impact of the Coronavirus on the people who make businesses work. As discussed last week, every working morning we have a virtual scrum and during these Zoom sessions I am confronted with a patchwork quilt of my colleagues’ faces.
This prompts me to think a bit more about the people who make my business tick and teams in businesses all across the world at this time
Within every business there are different roles. There is the leader, or leaders, and there are teammates and colleagues with various shades of grey in between. Obviously the extent to which this hierarchy is defined, or implemented, is very much in line with the needs and culture of the business but it is still there regardless. Recently everyone has had to adapt and amend their behaviour to meet the changing needs of their organisation, their working style and balance this with a blurring of the home/work distinction.
For me, this has probably been one of my most challenging times as a leader. I’ve no idea what’s going on (the same as everyone else…I hope) and have no idea how it is going to work out, but I’m making decisions on the basis of best guesses, gut feel and, hopefully, a liberal sprinkling of logic. I believe I’m also throwing the experience of working through the last recession into the mix. I suppose this is like business as usual but through a different lens; assess the situation, define a strategy, implement it, measure it and hope it works, and if it doesn’t? Assess the situation, define a strategy, implement it, measure it and hope it works – repeat until it does.
My team are looking to me for answers and even though I’m not physically seeing them every day I can still get the sense of this from the virtual morning meetings. They watch how I am, observe my humour and look for indications of hope, fear, confidence or whatever. As Napoleon Bonaparte said; ‘a leader is a dealer in hope’ and in that regard, I’m certainly trying to play my part.
At the same time as I look upon the computer screen and my colleagues faces I can’t help, on occasion, thinking about the UK Government’s furloughing scheme. These thoughts quickly dissipate as I am reminded how much I need every member of the team to keep our ship sailing forward. I appreciate we are lucky in this regard. We specialise in generating business for our customers and at this time this is a service needed more than ever.
The transition to home-working
As a group, we seem to have moved seamlessly from working in an office, together, to working at home, remotely. We are having challenging discussions with customers, trying to illuminate a positive route forward. We are facing adversity and it is a truism that you learn more about yourself and other people in adversity than you do when things are going well. It is well known that the outcome of struggle is strength.
Every member of the team has impressed me greatly with their approach, their attitude and their resilience, and I see them all in a different light. As life, and business, moves forward we will remember this period and I have great hope that we will do our best to try and implement some of the good bits of Covid-19 homeworking into our lives on an ongoing basis. I’ve always had faith in the people around me, but now and this is a real positive from the current situation, it is stronger than ever. I hope they feel the same way.
So, I suppose the point of this blog is to ask you; ‘how has your team been so far?’. Who has surprised you either positively or negatively? If you picked the team, how well have you done?
How have you been? How well have you performed your role? Will you look back on this period with a sense of pride for the way in which you have responded? I’m asking myself the same questions.
Caitlin, who works as a much valued manager in our content team explains how she is finding things:
“I have worked with Moore Legal Technology for nearly four years and have taken on various roles in this time. Despite having worked remotely for a year in Spain, this feels completely different now that the entire team is without our open plan office. I can only compare the current home-working situation to what I knew before, and I am finding pros and cons with the transition.
“I find myself slipping back into bad habits as I try to decipher between work and home time. At the beginning of lockdown, I would start work within 10 minutes of waking up or open my laptop while dinner was cooking. Finding a balance is the hardest, but probably the most important thing to do at this time. As the weeks have gone on, I have tried to change the way I work. I have adapted the spare bedroom into an office space; allowing me to walk in in the morning and shut the door over at 5 o’clock. This has definitely helped me find a literal separation between work and home.
“In some ways, I think this lockdown has massively benefited our team. The face-to-face time we have each morning is not only comforting during a period where we all have very little interaction, but I believe we are also communicating more effectively. We have this half hour window where we can check in on each other’s workloads, see where we can help out, and support one another.
“Adapting to remote working for the second time has reaffirmed to me how grateful I am to be in this line of work. Despite the current lockdown, I have never felt more involved with every team member and their role.”
Leasons learned from Ray Dalio's Principles
One of the best books I have read in recent times is ‘Principles’ by Ray Dalio. When I say ‘read’ I don’t mean cover to cover like you would read a page-turning thriller. The book is probably more akin to a manual that one picks up and browses depending on a particular need at a particular time, similar to the gardening manuals that are probably getting more use now than they have done in previous springs.
For those of you unfamiliar with Ray Dalio he founded Bridgewater Associates in 1975. In 2019 it had approximately $160 billion in assets under management and is renowned for its radically transparent working culture and its positive encouragement of workplace disagreements as a way of driving progress and improving decision making. I wouldn’t imagine Ray’s approach would work wholesale in many law firms but some of his principles, the primary one being life should be about meaningful work and meaningful relationships, are enlightening, simple and thought-provoking.
At the moment I find myself reaching for Principles more often with a view to becoming a better leader and a better teammate. I like this quote from early on in the book – it seems apt.
“Time is like a river that carries us forward into encounters with reality that require us to make decisions. We can’t stop our movement down this river and we can’t avoid those encounters. We can only approach them in the best possible way.”
As in previous posts, I’d like to sign off by saying I do hope that things are going as well as they could do for you right now, you are managing to find positives and that you are getting a chance to enjoy the spring sunshine.
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Following recent requests from a number of law firms who are keen to keep things moving forward for their firms at this time, we have developed our quick set up Your Law Firm Success™ –2020 Toolkit . This has been created to deliver business continuity and growth and to help you make your firm more efficient and more robust now and for the future.