I've been talking with clients this week and the subject of loyalty has come up a few times.
In most cases, it has been barristers talking about the need for loyalty from their staff. For many sets - particularly for regional chambers - times are very difficult and there seems to be a general feeling that, if the staff were really loyal, they would be taking some of the pain too.
Sadly this simply reflects a failure of some barristers to recognise and appreciate the pain that staff have already taken. I can't think of many sets that have given staff a pay increase in a good few years. Many sets have reduced the number of staff they have - getting rid of 'non essential' staff (whatever that means). Staff are being asked to extend their jobs, to work longer, to do new and additional tasks. Few sets commit to training their staff and many like to police staff expenses to the point where it's not worth their time to try to claim.
Of course, it is the same in most industries, but that doesn't sound as if it builds much in the way of loyalty, does it? Loyalty works both ways and chambers must be loyal to their staff if they expect loyalty from them. If staff are to take pain at the moment, it should be on the understanding that they will share in the upside when that comes.
It's not just about the money, though. Members of chambers should take a few moments to consider the work done by their staff. Not just the clerks - all the staff. Your receptionist (assuming you have one) has to put up with callers in all sorts of moods and continue to show a calm and professional exterior no matter how angry or irritated they are inside. Your marketing and/or development staff keep coming up with new areas of practice and keep smiling when members complain that it's difficult or far away or just plain new. Your clerks keep slogging away no matter how they are shouted at and no matter the fact that any bad news is their fault.
Spend a little time building loyalty in your staff before demanding it from them - it will be better for everyone in the end.