The Secret to Staff-Generated Process Improvement

Your staff – and by that I mean everyone on your team who helps you get your work done, from your secretary to the practice group associates you supervise – have many ideas on how the work process could be improved. The problem is that they’re rarely asked to share their good ideas.  Or, they’re not asked in a way that encourages them to take the time – and the risk – to bring you a candid, specific recommendation.   The reality is that they have great ideas they’re not voicing. Some of the most common processes about which they have insights include:

  • Coordinating calendars
  • Handling mail
  • Conflict checking
  • Client communication protocols
  • Document management . . .  and the list goes on.

Given that the members of your staff are probably very busy – as well as skeptical about the likelihood of their actualizing any such ideas for improvements — what can you do to get them motivated?  You can incentivize them.  Here’s one approach. On a quarterly basis, offer a gift certificate to a great restaurant for person who brings you the best idea for improving a key process.  Set a time to meet with your team to discuss the purpose of the contest.  Explain that their improvement idea must be in writing, well thought out, and specific.  Give them two weeks.

If the “contest” idea doesn’t work for you, that’s fine. But do find another way to solicit and acknowledge staff contributions to process improvement. Many of the most successful companies in the world have programs like this because they know that without them, they’ll never derive the benefit of the creativity and entrepreneurial energy latent in their workforce. So, for say, $150 per quarter, you can tap the wisdom of your people and reap exponential rewards for your investment in improved efficiency, happier clients, and more engaged employees.

About the Author

Bill Jawitz, Law Firm Coach and Consultant

Bill Jawitz has been coaching lawyers to become more profitable and enjoy a higher quality of life since 2002.

He can be reached at or at 203.806.1300.

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