August 24, 2009

Flexible secretaries

A team of secretaries at a large lawyer practice did not operate flexible enough. Most of the lawyers were not satisfied with the flexibility, the accuracy and the pace of work by the secretaries. Due to this, the lawyers said, they could not serve their clients adequately. The secretaries' team leader had been requested to improve the quality of their performance so she invited the secretaries for a meeting to talk about this. She said the purpose of the meeting would be to find ways to serve the lawyers faster, better and more flexibly so that they would be able to serve their clients better. She began the meeting bys asking the continuation question: "What things that we already do contribute to a good, flexible and fast service to the lawyers. In other words: which things that we already do, do not have to change?" This question led to a nice list of things they were doing that were already working. Then, the team leader asked: "What ideas do any of you have about how we can make our service more flexible, better and faster?" In response to this question, a few of the secretaries came with some interesting ideas, right away. A few others were a seemed a bit reluctant and did not have ideas right away. The team leader set them at ease by saying: "Do take some time to think about this. Please jump in as soon as you're beginning to get some ideas." A few other secretaries were even more reserved and pointed out that the lawyers were not always so flexible, fast and precise themselves. The team leader listened patiently and responded understandingly to this. She asked them how they had coped with the fact that the lawyers were not always doing a good job themselves, which led to a few good 'survival tips'. After that, she kept coming back to the question what ideas there were to make some improvements. Slowly but surely, more ideas were brought forward. The first session turned out to be a good start with some very interesting ideas for improvements. Later, two more sessions took place in which the 'What's better?' question played a major role. Slightly to the suprise of most of the secretaries, there were indeed some things that seemed to be going better. After the three meetings had been held, both the lawyers and the secretaries noticed an excellent improvement. Also, the secretaries noticed that the atmosphere in the team had improved and that they felt more appreciated by both the lawyer and by their own colleagues.


  1. Nice case study.

    You write that lawyers complained that "they could not serve their clients adequately."
    Lawyers actually serving clients?????
    Where? When??

  2. Hi Paolo,

    Have some bad experiences with lawyers? :)

    I wouldn't know, never had to do with them


Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner