Of the four drivers of employee engagement (See my posts of Jan. 10, 2008: “business” and May 29, 2008: “boss.”), the final in a “b” quartet I call “briefs,” which stands for the actual work done by lawyers.
The work itself is classic motivator for professionals. As professionals, inside attorneys enjoy both the grandeur and granularity of practicing law.
At the most grand, for some lawyers their belief in a system of justice, devotion to equality under the law, appreciation of the sophistication and suppleness of our statutory and common law framework, and the magnificence of our country’s fiercely-held trust in “the law” revs them up. Big projects, big suits, and big-league issues excite them.
On the granular, day-to-day side, being competent at what they do, helping clients succeed, solving modest legal problems, and cranking out the work pleases them (See my post of Oct. 18, 2005: no lawyer craves rocket-science difficulties all the time.). Engaged employees take pleasure in most aspects of their ordinary work.
Naturally, everyone has varying degrees of engagement, or disenchantment, as a result of these four contributors: business, boss, buddies, and brief. More naturally, the strength of any one engager ebbs and flows almost daily.
Let’s reflect a moment on what the top lawyer can do to promote engagement through the four contributors. A general counsel can only minimally affect the essential purpose of the company (the “business”). As to “boss,” much can be done by a general counsel to become a respected leader of the law department (See my post of June 11, 2008: references to 32 posts on leadership.).
Some steps can be taken to encourage “buddies,” including reducing attrition and weeding out bad eggs. “Briefs” allow for the most improvements, such as passing off low-level work, investments in technology, hiring, training and delegation.