How to Build Confidence within Your Firm

The stakes are high.

Summer associates, new hires, new partners and new leaders have to consistently break down barriers to deal with these stakes. For them to gain respect and trust from their co-workers, they must dispel questions and fears from those around them about their ability to handle the job ahead.

If they break down high stakes barriers, they become productive while reducing job-related tensions and concerns. If they don’t, they either squander their time in a quagmire of disappointment and despair or are forced out.

Confidence-building is commonly leveraged through mentoring programs that are as effective as the mentors participating. Sometimes there are internal advocacy groups as well as the randomly supportive co-workers. In each of these cases, individuals who question their abilities can feel singled out by their circumstances, let alone their abilities.

Common issues for people in new circumstances:

– despite being selected, they question their abilities

– they focus on the challenges ahead and their personal weaknesses in handling them instead of how they are a good fit for them

– they feel unprepared to speak up

– they assume those around them see their flaws and know more than they do

– they overcompensate by saying or doing too much

What can be done to efficiently and effectively shift the perspective within the culture as well as within these individuals?

Toastmaster groups have seen folks like those above in their midst as long as the group has been around. Why? Each individual stands in front of the whole Toastmaster group (or up to 10 of a diverse mix) and speaks on assigned topics with the intent of getting constructive feedback.

How does this help build their work-related confidence? Individual at a time, speakers go through the process of having to make content decisions, of rehearsing for time and delivery and of presenting to a captive audience. With each speech process speakers gain insight on their abilities and practice in handling the negative voice in their own head. What they often find is constructive feedback, while useful, is not negative.

Additionally, they watch peers (members like-minded in improving how they come across, how well they clarify and connect and show confidence) go through the same process. They witness others making mistakes, others making changes for the better and others experiencing similar feelings about themselves as they do.

In short, if you want to build confidence within your firm, mix into your professional development process, public speaking programs (Toastmasters or otherwise). Your attorneys not only need to feel good about their research and writing skills, they need to appreciate their speaking abilities for client work, for business development, and yes, for their work relationships and follow through during leadership or otherwise.

As it is, the stakes are high. Help each of your team, at all levels, generate the confidence to break down anxiety barriers associated with them and become productive.

Peer Presentation Groups

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