Why building firm-wide optimism is so important

by Samantha Woodhill14 Sep 2016
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, its 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 its 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.  Its 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.”