Sometimes all a person can do is to work harder. That's rarely the path to happiness for the organisation or the person concerned. In my experience it leads to frustration (from both) and exhaustion, and possibly illness.
This was brought to mind (again sadly) by a meeting with a Senior Clerk who will remain nameless, as will his chambers. A friend of a friend - another Senior Clerk that I had worked with - had suggested he speak to me (off the record, on the QT, and very hush hush...). Chambers weren't happy with his performance and nothing he was doing seemed to make them happier.
"I'm working all hours God sends", he told me, and it seemed to be true. He regularly got into the Clerks' room before 7:30am and was there past 7pm. He didn't go to lunch, instead having his Junior bring him a sandwich.
It was the understandable reaction of someone who has no training or support to do anything other than work harder.
Sadly, as he was finding out, doing more of the things that aren't working doesn't help very much. If at all.
More happily, he had done the most difficult thing already. He had realised that what he was doing wasn't working and he had asked for help. We spent a few hours working through a strategy for him, which included speaking to his Head of Chambers and beginning to develop a more focussed idea of marketing.
It's a small regional set, so there will be no funds from chambers to engage me on a formal basis, but I've agreed to chat with the Senior Clerk every so often to see how he is getting on - hopefully I can help him persuade chambers that some investment is needed in staff training and support. That would be a good first step to a more efficient, and successful, set of chambers.
It is tempting for us all to work harder in the face of difficulty. We all know that working smarter is the answer, but working harder is, paradoxically, easier.
We need to stop working harder and take the time to work out how to work smarter. It is always worth it in the end and delivers a better result for everyone.
Don't work harder.