Having served in the Marine Corps (a life time ago) I know first hand that the idea of Morale is not just a notion. It’s proof that the leaders have their act together.
Watch the news. Look at our young men and women in Afghanistan and Iraq being interviewed. Remember yourself at 20? How is it that virtual strangers, usually young and often inexperienced can function at such a high level… and with pride and confidence they may never have had before in their life. Where does it come from? It comes from the leadership. This “leadership” isn’t just how the “top dog” runs the place. The leadership referred to is something the upper echelon of the group created at some point in the history of the organization. It’s a culture that rests on vision, systems and practices. It’s a culture that is reinforced by the leadership in the organization…and everyone in the organization is a leader in one form or another.
A culture that creates confidence and high morale for the whole team may include systems and habits that ensure:
• Clear communication about the vision for the practice
• Proper training is available
• A defined role for each player on the team exists and is adhered to
• Dependable communication is delivered regarding the quality of work demonstrated by each team member
• Confidence that there is a solid career path available
• Clear rules exist that don’t change without warning and they apply to everyone
• A sense of being appreciated and knowing where one stands with the rest of the team
• A belief that what we do makes a difference
High morale—what we called esprit de corps, back in the military—is evident by the belief in and loyalty toward the organization we represent. It’s not a small thing. Without morale being where it should be, you’ll see smart military leaders send another unit to replace them. Morale is at the root of your outcomes…. good or bad.
How’s the morale in your firm? What structures exist in your culture that support the morale of the whole team? Do you have an employee handbook with clear explanations of what the rules are for everyone? Are the rules the same for everyone? Do you conduct regular staff meetings? Do you have consistent methods of providing clear feedback on performance whether great performance or marginal? Do you have a solid orientation and training plan for newly hired staff members? Do you mix in a dose of fun with all the serious work that is done in an estate planning law firm. How effective you are in these areas is something a client senses the moment they enter the reception area.
Director, Member Services
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.