What you think the problem is may not be the problem at all...
You hired go-getters.
But they're not hitting your targets.
You know they're doable.
What's the problem?
Some partners think it's because the associates and junior partners are lazy.
Some think it's because they don't know what they're doing.
What they don't realize is that there are the sneaky mindset issues plaguing go-getting attorneys.
Your attorneys want to do well.
They want to make partner.
You hired them from top schools. They got top grades.
Why aren't they performing like the top-notch attorneys you know they are?
What you see on the outside isn't always what's happening for them on the inside.
And 99% of the time, they're not going to share that with you.
Your lawyers want to perform, but they need help overcoming these mindset issues to tap into the performance levels you're looking for.
What you see on the outside isn't the real problem.
This is what you may see on the outside.
seem frantic and stressed
stay late at the office but don't have the billables or work product to show for it
don't ask for help
miss deadlines on occasion
say yes to more work but don't seem to follow through
You've tried to train them, but nothing seems to change.
I've learned from working one-on-one with high-achieving lawyers around the world that these are symptoms of an attorney working from old-school paradigms.
They need to learn new paradigms to become the high-performer you know they can be.
What seems like under-performance is often a sign of a high-achiever over-compensating and about to burn out.
There's a difference between a high-achieving go-getter who gets top grades in law school and a high-performer in a law firm.
A high-achiever wants to be perfect because they received praise from teachers and professors when they got the answer "right."
They were taught
"If I'm right, then I'm a success."
"I don't need to ask for help; I need to study harder."
"If I work hard, then people will see that and give me praise."
This is what happens when a high-achiever enters the workforce:
Attorneys under-bill because they think they should have found the "right" answer sooner. They think they wasted time doing research and writing briefs that weren't "right," so they ding their billing.
They feel guilty that they aren't "caught up." To them, "caught up" means an empty inbox. They bring work home and stare at it because they've exhausted themselves at the office and think they should work harder. This leads directly to burn-out.
They say "yes" to work they don't have the capacity to take on because they want to be a "good worker." They want to please you because they've been taught to people-please their teachers.
They're so worried that they're going to get fired or miss out on promotions that they subconsciously self-sabotage and tell themselves that they don't have what it takes to move up in the firm. They don't raise their hands in meetings. They don't tell you they want to promote. And they assume they should be looking for a new firm that gives them the validation they need to believe they're going to do well in the firm.
You invested a lot of time and money in your attorneys.
There's more you can do to retain top talent and help them become the high-performers you thought they were when you hired them.
You know they're capable of more.
I can help them tap into their abilities.
Step One: Understanding the Brain
Not every lawyer is a high-achiever.
Some lawyers want to skate by doing the bare minimum until they retire.
They don't usually find themselves at top firms.
You hired your people because they got top grades and worked hard.
Those assets can also be liabilities if they don't understand their brain.
The brain was originally designed for survival.
The typical reactions of our brain and body are fight, flight, freeze, or fawn (people-please).
When we're scared, we go into the easier pattern available to our brain.
That's why FBI, Secret Service, and SWAT teams undergo massive amounts of training.
They're taught not to react to fear in the same way our brain naturally does.
That's how they can run towards danger.
Lawyers who are high-achievers look at the potential for failure as life threatening. It's not their fault. It's how their brain has been shaped over the years by well-meaning parents and teachers.
Instead of leaning into problem-solving, they may...
fight - snap at their loved ones or people in the office
flight - not ask for help
freeze - procrastinate and do any assignment but the one that needs prioritizing
fawn - people-please. This can include lying about work that's not getting done or saying yes to new projects when they don't have time.
It's not that they're intentionally doing these things. It's that they are in intense fear.
Fear of failure.
Fear that they can't cut it.
Fear that they're going to be fired.
Fear that they're a disappointment to themselves and everyone around them.
They're full of self-doubt and shame.
To be a high-performer, they must learn to manage their minds, so they can overcome their fears.
I've seen first-hand that when they overcome these fears they:
problem-solve more quickly
bill more hours
ask for what they want and need from peers and senior partners
take charge of projects
close out matters faster
delegate more naturally
take care of themselves better
say no and set boundaries
enjoy their work and home lives more
Just because a lawyer doubts themselves doesn't mean they need a new job. It may mean they need coaching.
When lawyers come to me, they often feel a lot of self-doubt.
They're usually more than willing to change, but they don't know how.
They often think there's something wrong with them because they haven't figured out how to promote or get the "approval" of partners within the firm.
There's nothing wrong with them.
It's the method we've been taught to improve ourselves that's flawed.
When we were kids, we were taught reading books, listening to teacher, and regurgitating what we learned makes us successful.
Back then, success meant getting an 'A+.'
The same pattern repeats itself in law school and when we work for someone else.
They're looking for someone outside of them to tell them what the "right" thing to do is, and that what will get them a gold star.
This flawed method of education is what plagues high-achieving lawyers.
This method leaves us searching for outside validation and the "right" way to do something instead of allowing ourselves to be bad and potentially 'fail.'
Coaching is a different process for transformation which requires critical thinking, curiosity, and the willingness to be uncomfortable.
This is VERY different from what we're taught in school and in the workplace.
We need to retrain our brain to adapt to this new environment.
Your attorneys will apply what they learn, weave it into their every-day life, and feel more comfortable in their own skin when we work together.
They'll stop searching for outside validation they're doing things "right" because they'll learn how to trust and validate themselves.
Want to learn how to help your high-achieving lawyers become high-performers?
You can anticipate a deep dive program that will help your attorneys thrive.
I know from working with attorneys in my coaching practice that it takes rapport to open up and share things like self-doubt and shame.
It also takes consistency and repetition to create new habits.
Retraining our brains to problem-solve calmly instead of react from fear is a new habit.
In my one-on-one practice, I work with attorneys weekly for 6 months to keep them on track.
In any program we design, I will likely highly encourage one-on-one coaching as a component.
It is the fastest way to create lasting change.
Attorneys also don't want to admit weakness to higher-ups.
Although there's no legal attorney-client privilege in coaching relationships, I honor the coaching relationship deeply and would not divulge details of sessions.
These sessions are to benefit the attorney involved and ultimately the entire firm.
I was a criminal prosecutor in trials when I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 29. When chemo seemed like a vacation compared to the law, I used that diagnosis to evolve my life. Now I help lawyers who may feel stuck, overwhelmed, or find themselves procrastinating on their dreams step into the fullest most fulfilling version of themselves.