Image [cc] Loren Zemlicka

I attended a seminar last week on process management in legal departments. Onit sponsored it and the content was quite useful.

However, beyond the value of the content on process innovation, I retrieved a golden nugget of wisdom. Bradford Power, an expert on process innovation and change, was speaking on the value of process improvement. He gave two corporate examples highlighting two different models for driving change. The first one was “identify fat and fire it.” This model was self-repeating every few years, since the fat would reappear in time since the poor processes remained. The second model was ‘change the process.’

Fire the Fat is obviously demoralizing for a team. This lead to a discussion about how this approach is counter-productive. Then Bradford mentioned studies on what really motivates employees, which lead to my nugget. He referenced the outdated “command and control” management model too often used by organizations. In that world motivation is obtained through carrots and sticks. Here Bradford made the point that carrots and sticks are poor motivators. Studies show they may provide some short-term motivation, but in the long-run they produce negative results.

This is where PAM comes in.

He commented on how change is 10% systems and processes and 90% people. So people is where you should focus your change resources. And PAM is the proven way to entice that motivation for change. PAM actually has benefits way beyond change management. She results in happy, productive people.

Meet PAM:

P = Purpose. Employees that have a known, shared purpose are happier and more motivated. For law firms a shared purpose might be better client service (e.g. phone calls returned timely). Or it might be faster resolution of cases, or it might be better settlement outcomes. Whatever it is, having an understood, shared goal will drive people to success.

A = Autonomy. People, especially in knowledge worker roles, do not like to be micro-managed. They prefer to be given a goal and some resources, along with the autonomy (and responsibility) to get it done.

M = Mastery. People also like to be masters of their domain (hold the Seinfeld references). They enjoy being respected as a knowledgeable expert on a given subject.

Which brings us back to PAM and why I want to work for her. Bradford’s words really rang true for me. Yes, I want to be paid what I am worth. But more importantly, I want to feel the value of that worth in my job. If you ever get to work for PAM, count yourself as lucky.

PAM also highlights the apparent gap between lawyers and other professionals in the industry. She’s probably there for many lawyers, but only makes rare, guest appearances with the other professionals in a firm. Firms should really consider bringing PAM on-board for the entire firm as they embrace change.