How To Successfully Manage Millennials At Your Firm

If only you could get inside the heads of your law firm employees. It would surely make hiring decisions, salary negotiations, and case work easier.

For your Millennial employees, however, there is some good news. Because the younger generation believe that technology is near and dear to their very existence, managers can actually take a look—via blog, facebook, or twitter posts—at the this generation’s thought process.

Here are a few generalizations about Millennials (and how your firm can respond to them).

1. Millennials are looking to be the best at something… but something meaningful.

Millennials have read Malcolm Gladwell’s popular book, Outliers: The Story of Success and know that to become an expert you need to put in 10,000 hours. But, these days, it’s not enough to be an expert on a subject, Millennials want to work toward a higher goal.

Whether it be humanitarian, technological, or constitutional, Millennials are looking for a purpose for these 10,000 working hours.

Law firms should engage their younger employees in pro-bono work right off the bat. Encourage them to work for your firm’s foundation. Give extra time off to employees who volunteer at places outside the practice.

Through impromptu or informal interviews, ask your younger associates what motivates them to work in law or life. A happier employee is a more productive one.

And, although law school graduates are a dime a dozen, the ones worth keeping at your firm, that million-dollar legal mind, may not be as common.

2. Millennials are good at networking… and they like it

Millennials graduated in a difficult economic climate, and they unabashedly networked and made phone calls and sought out persons to hire and help them.

Millennials know the value of networking, and they do it well. So take advantage of this quality. Encourage your employees to attend legal networking events. Host happy hours and social events for friends and family of your employees. Find out who they are and what they do (and if they need representation).

Give incentives for recommending new hires. In general, tap into this resource. People enjoy doing favors and, in the end, are more likely to do favors for somebody they’ve previously helped (say, a manager or senior partner). It’s called the Ben Franklin effect.

In his autobiography, Franklin explains how he dealt with the animosity of a rival legislator when he served in the 18th century Pennsylvania legislature:

Having heard that he had in his library a certain very scarce and curious book, I wrote a note to him, expressing my desire of perusing that book, and requesting he would do me the favour of lending it to me for a few days. He sent it immediately, and I return’d it in about a week with another note, expressing strongly my sense of the favour. When we next met in the House, he spoke to me (which he had never done before), and with great civility; and he ever after manifested a readiness to serve me on all occasions, so that we became great friends, and our friendship continued to his death.

3. Millennials are looking for mentorship… and you should give it to them

Self-help books are popular with Millennials. They’re reading The Happiness Hypothesis, by Jonathan Haidt; How to Find Fulfilling Work, by Roman Krsnaric; and The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter, by Meg Jay.

Everybody needs a role model, from the small school-age child to the adult working-class parent. We need somebody to look up to. The workplace is no different.

To give your law firm a sense of purpose, to encourage networking, and to instill a culture of teamwork and community, create “hiring classes” or groups of new hires that get trained together.

Organize a week or two-week long training camp so that new employees meet one another, bond, and generally become attached to their work. Each new hire in this class should be assigned a mentor. Make sure that more senior mentors meet with the younger associates. By doing this, your firm will create a supportive, family-style culture, which will help retain your Millennial employees.

These steps will also encourage new associates to ask questions, which reduces mistakes and increases the productivity of your office.

You may not relate to the Millennial mindset, but you should try to understand it.

The business of law has changed dramatically. Firms of all sizes are under more pressure than ever to overcome fee resistance, deliver added value, and secure decreasingly loyal clients.

Tune in to The Center for Competitive Management (C4CM)’s audio conference on Thursday, September 11, 2014, titled “Top Five Profit-Killing Business Development Mistakes Firms Make, and How To Avoid Them.”

This power-packed webinar explores how successful firms are building cultures in which business development, cultivating relationships, and clear rainmaking goals increase revenue per lawyer and overall profitability, including:

  • When and how to begin business development training
  • Methods to include meaningful client contact for every lawyer (including first year associates)
  • What constitutes practical training and which efforts are a waste of firm time
  • The mentoring key and how firms are flubbing it
  • How to teach attorneys to see and address the profit potential of every relationship
  • Pros, cons and considerations of offering billable credit for lawyers who spend time developing rainmaking skills
  • A step-by-step outline for building a firm culture that promotes business development (with a defined path and essential steps for successful communication, engagement, and rewards)

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