Why building firm-wide optimism is so important

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Optimistic firms will survive and flourish, others won’t: that was the message given to delegates at last week’s ALPMA summit.
A new survey has found that millennials are the least engaged generation in the workforce with 55% of the millennial workforce not engaged at work. As much as 16% of the millennial workforce is actively disengaged.
Dr Bob Murray, of Fortinberry Murray, told delegates that creating a sense of purpose and engagement for a law firm is hugely important in building optimism, which has a direct effect on the performance and productivity of a team.
“Humans are naturally optimistic,” Murray said.
“Stress is an optimism killer.”
While staying optimistic under pressure is difficult, it's increasingly important to maintain. By 2020, workplace stress is likely to increase by around 200%.
“We are living in extremely stressful times,” Murray said.
“We are losing optimism at a tremendous rate.”
His message is simple: think of a law firm as a tribe.
“If you work together collaboratively, people will work harder for the survival of the firm,” he said.
“The more you force people to work for themselves, the less hard they will work for firm.”
It all boils down to a simple algorithm: PACTS.  And it's scientifically proven to be effective.
Purpose. “The purpose must be social,” Murray said. 
It’s not about making money.
Autonomy.  “People have got to feel a sense of control,” he said. 
Not total control but its important to properly consider everyone when making a radical change. 
“Give everyone a say in it,” Murray said.
Collegiality.  “We are co-operative animals.  The more opportunity we have to collaborate with one another, the more optimistic we are,” he said. 
Supportive and collaborative relationships are vital.
“We are collaborative, tribal animals,” Murray said.
Trust.  It's important to have honesty and open conversation. 
“You can’t be optimistic if you can’t trust the people you work with,” he said.
Strengths.  “A culture of recognition and praise reinforces success,” Murray said.  “You’ve got to have a culture of recognising people’s strengths.”
  • Alan Whtley on 14/09/2016 10:28:14 PM

    Optimism? Workplace stress? I'm afraid that I don't see anything but a tenuous connection. Workplace stress is a consequence of your employees being subjected to the stressors that an organisation has created. These stressors can be thought of in terms of job demands and job resources, and an employee experiences stress when these demands exceed a reasonable threshold or the resources provided fail to allow them to complete their work to the required standard. You can't create a sense of optimsm that will negate these absolutes.
    People, don't look for slick solutions, quick fixes or vanilla approaches to addressing workplace stress. Each workplace is unique, and the factors that cause stress in your organisation are unique to you. The trick is to firstly accept accountability as an organisation for the stress you subject your employees to, to then develop a deep understanding of the factors at play that are creating the stress, and to finally intervene at a primary level and address the sources of stress. If you follow this path you can be optimistic of reducing your workplace stress, but you can't just be optimistic and hope it goes away.

    Alan Whitley

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