Wednesday, August 15, 2012
The best advice I got when I started practicing law was to be considerate to my secretary and the support staff. Of course, the same advice applies to law schools.
Staff Matter(s) by Darby Dickerson.
Abstract: The most important resource any law school has is its people. Most times, you hear about the faculty students, and top administrators. But rarely do we talk about and praise our other staff-the hourly employees.
Without hourly employees, most law schools would cease to function. The facilities would be ramshackle, trash would not get collected, library books would not be updated, our paychecks and benefits would not get processed, mail would not be sent or received, and the list goes on and on. Our staff members are the people who make the law school run. Displaying leadership and appreciation in these ranks is just as important as it is with the faculty, students, senior administrators, and external constituencies.
As the Interim Dean, one of my goals is to increase the recognition given to hourly workers and, hopefully, to also increase employee morale. High employee morale leads to better customer service, which means happy students, faculty, administrators, alumni, and donors. At a recent conference of the Association of Legal Writing Directors, Dr. Susan Baile, a senior consultant with Franklin Covey, explained that, across professions,
Gallup research has identified 12 factors that are highly correlated with a strong, vibrant work force. Organizations in which employees strongly agreed that these factors characterized their immediate work environment reported greater productivity and profitability as well as higher levels of employee retention and satisfaction. Of the 12, six are even more significant in terms of their ability to discriminate between strong and average work environments.
The six top factors, in descending order, are: I know what is expected of me at work. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day. In the last 7 days, I have received praise or recognition for doing good work. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person. There is someone at work who encourages my development.
These findings support what most of us know instinctively-that communication and recognition are important to building and maintaining a strong work environment.
Stetson started to consciously improve its system of employee communication and recognition about two years ago. This essay explains those initial efforts and some newer initiatives that are in their infancy. The programs are divided into two categories-communication and events, and awards and recognition. After discussing these two categories, this essay will then explain how one department in particular excels because of outstanding communication and regular staff recognition.