Although there are one or two useful measures, such as staff turnover and retention rates, for the firm as a whole, they have little meaning if applied to relatively small teams. However, it is a good idea for you and your team members to review personal development goals and achievements. This is probably best done on an individual basis. There are some comments on this process later in the chapter.
Some firms use surveys to test people’s satisfaction with jobs, relationships, development opportunities, communication and so on. They are useful indicators of morale. If problems are highlighted then the firm can take action. Leaders may also find it helpful to discuss the results with their teams and to decide if specific changes need to be made in the ways that they work. You can see the sort of questions that law firm DMH use in their surveys in the box ‘DMH staff survey 2001’. The questionnaires are completed anonymously. Personnel and Administration Director Denzil Jones sums up the benefits:
We decided to conduct our first staff survey in 1999 in the runup to our application for Investors in People accreditation. We engaged the help of a consultant to help us design the survey and to analyse and present the results so that individual responses were treated in strictest confidence and we had an independent view of the results.
At the time of the first survey, we were aware that we had still some way to go in fulfilling the Investors in People criteria and approached the exercise with some trepidation. Although the survey confirmed some of our views it also demonstrated that we were better than we thought we were in a number of areas, which gave managers a boost. However, it demonstrated that the question of ‘fair’ pay was a major issue and the management team set about addressing the problem.
By the time of our second survey in 2001, we had achieved our Investors in People accreditation and the survey gave us heartening reassurance that we had improved in practically all areas (with over 95 per cent agreeing or strongly agreeing that DMH is a good place in which to work). We were also pleased to see that the pay question was being successfully addressed. One disappointing area was ‘internal communications’, which had not improved to the extent we thought they should have done. As a result, we asked our consultant to carry out an indepth review of the issues. This included discussions with groups of staff. As a result we have been taking further action to strengthen such things as internal group meetings and induction training and have recently launched a DMH intranet.
Staff surveys are now an integral part of our management process. They are essential tools. We use them to find out how well we are achieving our goals and to identify issues that need to be tackled. No matter how well you think you are doing there is nothing better than to ask other people for their opinion – you may be surprised.
DMH Staff Survey 2001
Respondents were asked to indicate if they strongly agreed; agreed; disagreed; or strongly disagreed with the following statements:
- I have a good understanding of the broad aims and direction of DMH.
- Our group holds regular meetings to discuss how well we are doing.
- I have every opportunity to make suggestions to improve how things are done.
- I am kept regularly informed about the things I need to know.
- I understand how my job contributes to the success of my group.
- I am actively encouraged to develop my skills.
- I am aware of the training and development opportunities that are available and how to access them.
- I am provided with effective day-to-day support, coaching and on-the-job training.
- I am always clear when attending training what the objectives are and how it will help me in my work.
- Following training I have sufficient opportunity to discuss what I have learnt and how to use it.
Only those respondents who had joined within the previous six months were asked to answer the next two questions:
- When I first joined I was effectively introduced to my job and helped to understand the organization.
- I was given the training I needed to do my first job effectively.
- I have sufficient opportunities to discuss with my manager how I am performing.
- If I do well my efforts are appreciated.
- We work consistently well together in our group.
- I am given enough authority and responsibility to do my job effectively.
- We have real commitment to high levels of client service in our group.
- I have confidence in the leadership of DMH.
- My pay is fair for the job I do and the effort I put in.
- People within the firm always treat me with respect.
- DMH is committed to putting people first.
- On the whole DMH is a good place to work.
Only those who were not group heads, team leaders or managers were invited to answer the next question:
Our group is led effectively.
Only those who were group heads, team leaders or managers were invited to answer the remaining questions:
- I am clear about what is expected of me as a manager.
- I feel that I have been given enough support and training for my role as manager.
- The development of our staff is clearly linked to the aims and objectives of DMH.
- I could give examples of how the training and development activities have improved the performance of my team and DMH.
Respondents were given the opportunity to indicate the most important thing that they would do if they were running the firm.
They were finally invited, by ticking the appropriate boxes, to indicate the department in which they worked and the broad category of job that they held.