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Productivity | Teamwork

How to Unlock Your Legal Team’s Potential: Overcoming Barriers to Productivity and Empowerment

Published on Jun 10, 2024
Guest Author
Molly McGrath
Founder and CEO of Hiring & Empowering Solutions
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"Why can't my employees just do their job?" Have you ever asked yourself this question? Chances are you have. In most cases, your employees have the same thoughts: "Why can’t I just get my work done?" When they get in their vehicle at the end of the day or close their computer if they're working remotely as W2 employees, they feel defeated. They feel like they haven't accomplished anything all day.

The reasons for these questions occurring to you and your team might vary. Let’s take a deep dive into some of them.

Oftentimes, you are met with resistance from your employees because they don't have access to the proper education, training, and coaching. Remember the golden rule—your team needs to be trained to become legal leaders.

Apart from hard skills, another important missing skill is confidence. That’s where we all need to start—by giving our employees confidence. How can this be achieved?

The answer is simple. Give your employees a task that scares them, something they have no training or knowledge of, and just say, "I trust you." Don’t use uncertain terms like, "Just don't screw it up." The truth is that your employees will learn how to take responsibility with confidence when they make mistakes.

They will gain the ability to communicate like a CEO, take ownership of their actions, and persevere without crumbling under pressure, especially if they don't come from a law background when they are certain that you trust them and that mistakes are not something they need to be afraid of.

You’ve been forced to communicate since before you could speak. Unfortunately, knowing you’re supposed to communicate well with others is very different from actually doing it.

We have the power to choose how and if we talk with those in our space. Silence may be even more detrimental than thoughtless conversation. Silence causes us to falter in our collective company goals.

We need to overcome our fear of debate and realize that respectful debate is healthy. If we don’t trust someone enough to disagree with them, we create a broken foundation upon which no solid growth can be built.

Suffering in silence is not the solution. If you are an employee struggling to complete your work, your employer might not even be aware of it. Break this vicious circle and tell your boss about the problems you’re struggling with; try to have an open conversation.

If you’re an employer resenting writing everyone's paycheck because you feel like no one is delegating back to you, or you can't let go and trust because every time you do, things fall through the cracks and follow-through doesn't happen, remember: conversation is key.

This isn't a heavy or hard conversation. It's an empowering one. You can say, "Team: We need to get together, lock arms, schedule a workshop, get in a room, go to the proverbial whiteboard, and figure out what's not working and what we can do to turn this around.”

Clear, concise, and well-communicated job descriptions, along with time chunking, prevent confusion. When people have a clear goal, they become engaged, focused, and persistent. The business wins when everyone pulls together and moves in the same direction.

Setting goals helps us stay focused on what is significant. It's also the easiest way to establish clarity for everyone on the team. The greatest gift you can give yourself is to grant permission to seek clarification.

If a talented employee runs out of new opportunities, they’ll look elsewhere for fulfillment. The same holds true if they don’t have balance in their personal and professional goals. That’s why clarity is so important.

To keep things on track, dial in your project management system. Running your firm off Excel® spreadsheets and Word® documents is unacceptable. Invest in a project management system. Services like monday.com, Asana, and Basecamp are affordable and effective.

Host weekly team meetings to review all open projects. Ensure that you know the status of each to-do item, who is responsible, what (if anything) is needed to complete the task, and when it needs to be done. Be impeccable in keeping this tracking up to date.

If you are an employer, you are likely saying ‘yes’ to way too much. You are the office manager, the paralegal, the trainer, the facilitator of all meetings, conducting quarterly employee reviews, and engaged in many other tasks.

If you are working nights and weekends, or, for example, showing up even when you are getting sick because of your incredible work ethic and thoughts that the firm will collapse without you, it’s a bad sign. That’s not being a team player. Don't create stories like that in your head. You're harming your business, your family, and yourself. You can't scale if you are unfamiliar with the power of delegation.

If you are doing everything yourself, the questions "What are my employees doing all day?" and "Why can't people just get their work done?" seem relevant. What do they need to do if you are the one person performing all the tasks?

Employers should empower their employees and delegate tasks to free up their time. Our job as leaders is to train and empower people. If you are wondering why everyone can't get their work done, there is a chance there are bottlenecks with YOU. Everybody's waiting for you to do your part. They're not letting go of control. Everything has to go through you.

True business growth begins when business owners realize one thing: They can’t do everything on their own. When you empower your team to take administrative tasks off your plate, you free yourself to focus on delivering outstanding service to your clients and growing the business.

You can grow a team that operates efficiently, understands your processes and systems, executes marketing efforts without a hitch, and makes trustworthy business decisions effectively. All you have to do is trust this process, set clear core values, guard what information you tell yourself, and establish realistic professional goals.

If you are wondering why your employees just can’t get their job done, pay attention to these points:

  • Training
  • Writing clear, concise, and well-communicated job descriptions
  • The power of delegation

To build a successful law practice, you don't just need employees; you need empowered individuals who act like entrepreneurs on your behalf.


Molly McGrath is the Founder and CEO of Hiring & Empowering Solutions and the author of Amazon's top #1 Best Seller: 'Fix My Boss: The Simple Plan to Cultivate Respect, Risk Courageous Conversations, and Increase the Bottom Line.'

She is a thought leader with 27 years of experience in the CEO space. Since the late nineties, Molly has coached, consulted, and directed presidents and founders of national organizations and over 4,500 law firms in executive-level leadership, continuous improvement, and team empowerment initiatives to infiltrate new markets, leverage partner ecosystems, and produce profitability.

Molly has 27 years of specific skill set experience in legal marketing, fractional CEO roles, conversation intelligence coaching, team development & empowerment, intrapreneur talent acquisition, Kaizen leadership, root cause analysis, revenue mapping, and action-based project management.

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