Monday, 27 February 2012

Appraisals and the art of delegation....

So suddenly a couple of weeks have flown by since my last post - I still can't quite believe we're hitting March this week! It's been a hectic time in the law library - enquiries flying in left right and centre, and coupled with my extra responsibilities I have taken on since we had our appraisals, to say I have been a bit stressed is a serious understatement!

One of the main responsibilities I have taken on is a lot more delegation. This is not something that comes easy to me either. In all honesty I often find it easier to just do something myself than ask someone to do it for me. But one of my managers explained to me that part of learning how to be a good manager, is developing your ability to pass on and manage tasks, as opposed to just getting them done yourself. Teaching someone else how to go about a particular piece of work, and then ensuring that they do it within the alotted time frame and to a sufficiently high standard is a skill in itself.

When my managers are out of the office at the same time (one is part time so this does happen from time to time every month), and it is only the team Director, me and our 2 junior staff members, responsibility to allocate enquiries and act as the first point of assistance has moved from the Director to me. I would be lying if I said I don't find this daunting; I hope it's something I shall just become accustomed to and therfore more comfortable with, but at present, it's been a nerve racking couple of weeks as I have had to step in 3 times already! I think the most difficult part of delegation is knowing when and what to allocate to particular individuals! I am always wary of overloading the others in my team, or giving them something that perhaps is above or below their skillset. However, the only thing that will really help me to get over this is practice, so that's what I am doing. Let's call it a work in progress...

The appraisal process has always been fundamentally the same in every law firm I have worked in, and it's certainly useful from a Chartership point of view to have a chance to reflect on what I have achieved in the last year, and illustrate how I have gone about meeting the objectives we set last year. It's also helpful to get feedback from fee-earners and team members - it definitely makes you feel more appreciated!!

One thing that I did speak about during the appraisal once again was to what extent I can specialise in a particular practice area (mine being IP) - and again it's a tricky one. One of my goals this year is to help the other junior team members become more au fait with this practice area. One of them is going to be working with me on my Bulletin, for example. This will involve me coaching him in the various topics that are covered in the Bulletin, showing him how to pick out stories of interest from the various news sources I follow, and how to summarise and edit them for our Bulletin. The idea is that while I maintain editorial control, so to speak, I am sharing the knowledge that I have acquired with at least one other team member. It definitely makes sense, although again, I find it difficult at times to let things like this go, as I Really enjoy working on them! However, it's a good opportunity for me to work with one of the others on a one-to-one basis - it's good practice for me also in terms of taking control of tasks and delegation.

I am not sure if delegation comes naturally to some more than others - I suspect it does, to an extent, but I wonder if it really is just something you can become more comfortable with over time, or if it is either something you like or you don't like. I'd be interested to hear from anyone else on this kind of thing....

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