Wednesday 27 June 2012

Coaching Cats - the role of coaching in organisational change within law firms

Attended a stimulating fund-raising event at Berwin's, the law firm, in London this evening.  Its main purpose was to raise money for Breakthrough Breast Cancer linked to a sponsored Sky Dive by one of my associates, Anne Waldron.  She completed the dive 12 days ago and has raised £20k+ so far - impressive effort.  

As a reward for donations, Anne put on an event for the coaching community aimed at understanding what makes lawyers tick, what sets them apart from the rest of humanity (her words not mine!), and how coaching works in that context.  With law firms undergoing a phenomenal rate of change - economic trends, transition from partnerships to corporate models, mergers and new competition (The Tesco Law) partners have less and less time to dedicate to leadership development and mentoring - the very support they got on their own way to becoming partners.  

So avoiding boring you with any material about lawyers’ personalities - apart from one great quote "they get attractive rewards but also can have interesting lifestyles as well" - I will focus on a few key take-ways for me from the session:
·  Change happens at the individual level in professional services organisations like law firms - "light little fires across the organisation", "follow the energy"
·  You build momentum for change through one-on- one conversations
·  Change is a long term process and the vision should be applied consistently over an extended period - one comment mentioned 7 years which does seem a bit long to me
·  Decision-making in partnerships is about building consensus and establishing buy-in - again this is best done one-on-one
·  Look to attach business coaching processes to specific projects and client-facing activities. This way business benefits and ROI on the coaching investment is more readily visible and it moves coaching out of the HR, assessment, training and appraisal box
·  Learning and development can become more of a client-facing related activity - more knowledge management than HR
·  What does coaching mean to a firm:
o Awareness
o Board
o Change
o Development
o Enlightment
·  …And for the individual being coached:
o Achievement
o Build
o Confidence
o De-stress
o End - knowing when to move on...

For more details on Anne's courageous effort please go to Virgin Money Giving


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