Not just lunch time meditation
With no guarantee of a job, a mountain of debt and a drive for survival (according to the Law Society in 2017/18 over 35 000 UK and overseas students applied to study law in England and Wales and in the year ending 31 July 2017 only 5719 traineeships were registered with the SRA) our junior lawyers I suspect start their first day in “the office” as I did, with equal measures of relief, excitement and trepidation.
However, the fighting spirit that got us this far along the journey can soon seek to divide us into those that “make it” and those that fall by the wayside. Our “trade” becomes largely irrelevant to our “success”, replaced by an “unspoken” assessment of our ability to deal with inappropriate office banter, answer the phone within 3 rings (having no idea who is on the other end) and interpret acronyms such as ROI and KPIs and don’t get me started on “utilisation” ??!!! Cue whispers around the office “did I miss that part in the induction where they issued a glossary of terms?”
Our job descriptions talk of “business development” and “client communication” and our first couple of days are spent watching videos telling us that we are one “out of date passport” away from a prison sentence! By the end of the first week we raise a glass and collectively toast the unknown! Our destiny is set; eat or get eaten! Fast forward and we get another lost generation of talent or exhausted, disillusioned partners craving retirement.
The terrifying reality is that most businesses are acutely aware of the levels of cortisol pumping around the floors of their offices but are either not willing to or simply don’t know how to change behaviour for the long term good of the business. I am not just talking about break out areas and lunchtime meditation. Whilst great initiatives, let’s start with simple training. It is no secret that investment in personal as well as professional development creates stronger teams and encourages innovation and yes if along the way we all drink a little less caffeine and say “good morning” to each other, then surely that is not a bad thing?
It is no surprise to me that lack of engagement over costs and timescales continues to be a major source of complaint for so many clients, when so few firms invest in soft skills training. Not to mention the collective fear that sweeps through the office when there is a request to “scope” a new job! What does that even mean…? Pass me that glossary!