Electronic Discovery is a wide and varied skill set. There is the very technical skill set all the way to the consultative and overlaying it all is project management. Learning about e-discovery is most often on-the-job or through conferences and seminars both in person and online. A recent industry blog post addresses the role of managers in developing talent within the law firm environment based on an article discussing the importance of having career focused conversations that empower your power players.
What this all means is that managers need to take the time to have candid conversations with their staff members about their career goals and where those fit in within the organization. They also need to give constant feedback, since employees can’t stretch themselves and really grow unless the know what skills are beneficial and what behaviors they may need to change. Managers should also help employees articulate their professional goals and then connect them to the resources and individuals within the organization that can help them achieve those goals.
I recommend the following two podcasts to prepare yourself for having a career conversation with members of your team. Also, have a conversation with your Human Resources director for guidance on firm / company policies and resources regarding training & development, compensation guides and big picture organizational structure objectives before you inadvertently promise something you can’t deliver.
Another facet to building trust and growing your team involves knowing the difference between “job enrichment” and “job enlargement.” One of the leadership blogs I frequently read offered this advice:
Before offering someone – or before you accept an offer for – additional responsibility: consider the resources required for the success of both the organization and the individual. If those resources can’t be freed up and provided, don’t do it. There are too many decisions made which provide short term “success” but ultimately cause good individuals and good organizations into a downward spiral.
The key take away for me involves making sure you have the resources available to help your employee reach the goals you are setting for them or you’ll set them and your department up for inevitable failure. In this industry (and I believe many others) people do not stay with a firm or company only for the money… they stay for the opportunity to grow professionally, to learn a new skill set and to prepare themselves for the next challenge. Hopefully, your organization can provide the challenge you’re preparing them to meet through learning and career growth opportunities.
And finally, when it comes to training and development, be creative. Learn about e-discovery offers individual and team lesson plans and coaching as an alternative to traditional training classes. Bottom line, don’t lose talented people on your team to the firm 3 floors down because there was no clear career path for them in your organization.