Building a high performing legal team is a vital part of the role of a Manager. ‘High performing’ comes from two distinct elements, high performing individual Team members, and a Team moving towards the stage of High Performance. An effective manager is working to improve individual performance and working actively to develop a team through the stages of team development. With this framework, we can tease out the Manager’s focus and tasks at each stage.
- Aligning the Team for their Company purpose, their Team purpose, their targets, and their goals. Team Managers reinforce by informing the Team, strengthening goals, rewarding and praising effort that leads to goal achievement.
- Bonding with the legal team and giving them a sense of Team identity. The Team Manager holds informal and formal meetings with the Team as a whole to build internal relationships and bonds.
- Painting a picture of the path forward, the type of Team we will be in the future. An active Manager knows the nature of a Norming or High Performing Team and will describe this frequently to the Team. If they know where they are going, The Team is much more likely to get there! HR consultancy is a key factor in this benefit.
- Encourage cross training and cross-team project work. One of the dangers at this stage is the formation of small, tight sub-groups or cliques. We minimize this by ensuring Team Members rotate who they work with or are paired up with different people to work on small projects. The benefit of this is that strong bonds are formed, we are sharing Team strengths, and the Team members learn each other’s strengths.
- Encourage the legal team and Team members to begin to think for themselves. While still reinforcing the Team purpose and the type of Team we want to be, the Team Leader starts to use coaching questions to challenge and develop the Team and Team members.
- Introduce different Team Processes. At the Forming and early Storming stage, the Team Manager uses the Team Meeting as the main Team process. He or she will use this both to bind and align the Team and to manage throughput of work. There will be frequent and well-structured Team Meetings. Later, the Team Manager will vary how the Team works together, and they will develop specific Team processes to be used for different situations.
- Involve the Team or sub-groups within the Team in more aspects of your Role. This is the time to coach and mentors the Team towards delegation. The active Team Manager is not now trying to do all the work themselves, to come up with the new ideas or solve all the problems. Team Members working in pairs or small groups can take on a lot of project work. Rotate the groups and the couples so that all are being developed.
- Build the business knowledge of the Team. This is the time to educate the Team about the nature of your business, your customers, and your competitors. The more they know, the better placed they will be to make the right decisions. Encourage sharing of skills, and the dissemination of knowledge across the Team.
- Foster a competitive element but ensure it does not generate lousy feeling. The aim is to build people who want to push themselves and continuously lift the bar higher and higher. Benchmarking themselves against better Teams and using this as a competitive, achievable goal gives a great sense of purpose. This is also the attitude of the High-Performance Team that we are moving towards; they always want their HR consultancy to be better than the rest.