How to create a safe environment that supports staff to share their innovative ideas.

Brent Szalay

Laura Vickers, founder of Nest Legal, values fostering safe communication within her business to raise concerns and drive innovation. Here are three strategies that she and her team have implemented.

Don’t jump to conclusions. Rather, ensure your first move is to ask “are you okay?”

If deadlines aren’t being met or your clients are chasing tasks which keep leading you to the same person, Laura proceeds to ask that team member “are you okay?”.

“The signs may make it look like they’re not loving their job, or even that they’re about to jump ship to a competitor. But in my experience, it usually just means there’s something else going on for them.”

“Understanding this, and reading the signs, is particularly important when we are working from home. This question and regular check-ins let us know when someone needs more support”, says Laura.

Create a culture you want to be a part of

Laura creates a strong and comfortable workplace: encouraging flat shoes, bright attire and working as a very tightknit team – nobody goes about work alone.

Every day at 4pm the team get together to evaluate their workflows. If one person has significantly more tasks than another, the team put their hand up to help offload some tasks. “The goal is we all walk out the door at the same time.”

Through fostering a comfortable, and welcoming culture, Laura has created a workplace that she is proud to be a part of, and so are her employees.

This not only increases internal satisfaction and employee wellbeing but allows Laura to bypass traditional recruitment channels. In championing the vibrant workplace her team are effectively salespeople for the business as they spread positive word of mouth through their networks. This is often how new talent gravitates towards Nest Legal.

Build in time to discuss ideas

Laura believes in encouraging every employee to feel safe and comfortable to share ideas and speak up. The team are always on the lookout to streamline services and remove friction from any client experience. Even if that’s simply eliminating a single step in a more complex process. These ideas are given a dedicated time slot and discussed in their weekly team meeting.

“Our culture doesn’t follow the narrative of: That’s a stupid idea. It might work in another industry, but it won’t work for law. Instead, we say: Yeah, that’s cool. Let’s give it a try. And we’ll try it quickly, so if it fails, it fails fast, and we can move on.

“But if the idea has legs? We’ll work with it and make lots of small, rapid changes to get it up and running and see if people like it.”

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