Are you training your administrative support teams well enough?
It’s no secret that law firm support structures have changed over the past 10 years. As just one example, the ratio of PAs to fee earners is now radically different when compared to pre-recession levels. Where it was once a secretary or PA supporting one or maybe two fee earners, the average ratio in the UK Top 100 law firms today is closer to one PA to five fee earners or even more.
With law firms constantly being required by their clients to deliver more for less, it has now become critical that secretarial and administrative support staff have the training they need to be as efficient and effective as possible.
According to research, around a quarter of the UK workforce did not take part in any workplace learning in the last 12 months. As employees are no longer receiving the on-the-job training they require, they’re increasingly looking for it elsewhere.
With the introduction of new technology, face-to-face training has slowly become a thing of the past, replaced by learning management systems and tools like intranets. Intelligent Office believes a structured and integrated approach to training works best – combining traditional, face-to-face learning with access to online resources suits today’s employees’ working styles.
Keeping up is better than catching up.
For many support staff, training is often demand-lead rather than pre-emptive or personalised, which means they don’t always receive the correct training to help them be truly effective in their roles.
At Intelligent Office, we have a constant focus on training and development which is one of the key reasons we are one of only 70 UK companies to have achieved Investors in People (IIP) Platinum accreditation. We understand the importance of drip-feeding training on a little and often basis alongside a commitment to continuous feedback, establishing performance development plans, and identifying key areas where training should be delivered.
Ongoing training enables us to equip our employees with a broad range of technical and soft skills and this means they are able to complete a wider range of tasks enabling us to provide a more complete and consistent service to our clients.
An IIP Platinum accredited approach to training
We provide training in many different ways and our training is focused on enhancing employees’ knowledge and skills, therefore developing their capabilities and overall performance. Examples of our approach to training include:
- Training shots – The provision of short, snappy, one-to-many training sessions we call “Training shots”. They are designed to be delivered quickly, so staff can assimilate short but useful pieces of knowledge in a lively and interesting way. Training shots are an efficient way to keep employees up-to-date on the latest training required.
- Continuous feedback – Our recent introduction of a continuous feedback programme is a significant shift away from our previous combination of monthly meetings with an annual review; a trend which we’re now seeing in other people-focused organisations. The private discussions between employees and their line managers summarise and take stock of activity, performance and praise/feedback received during the month as well as providing a focus on future training and development requirements, particularly those arising from the employee embracing new tasks.
- Skillsbank – Intelligent Office has developed Skillsbank, which allows teams to take responsibility for their own learning by sharing their expertise with their peers. It is a record of each individual’s competency levels for all tasks within their own service area and can also be used to develop individuals across departments. Team members are scored 1 to 5 (with 5 being the highest) and all results are displayed within the team area. This encourages individuals who are new to the team or new to a task to identify the expert within the team who they can approach in order to learn from.