ILTACON23 is done, the Savvy booth is all tucked away for our next conference (ALA Expo in Denver 2024, baby!), and I’m sorting through notes I took at the many amazing learning sessions I attended. One theme keeps jumping out at me: we must foster strong relationships if we are to be successful law firm IT trainers.
Nearly every session I attended at ILTACON included someone talking about their efforts to reach out beyond their own department to build bridges with others. Using those bridges, they found that they better understood the challenges facing their colleagues, including managers, attorneys, and staff. This information then helped them to be better law firm IT trainers.
So, I thought I’d write an article about the many relationship-building strategies I heard people mention across several sessions.
Establish Open Lines of Communication
The foundation of any successful relationship within a law firm, or any organization for that matter, is open and effective communication. IT trainers should proactively reach out to their colleagues in other departments. Ask to attend department meetings, send regular emails with tech tips and updates, and maintain an open-door policy for any questions or concerns. I even heard a trainer say that she asked all of the firm’s practice areas if she could attend a few of their weekly meetings as a silent observer. She said she picked up many ideas for improving her training content and processes. If your colleagues see you taking an interest in their work, making an effort to understand their needs, they will be more likely to approach you with their IT-related ideas and challenges.
Tailor Training Programs to Specific Needs
One-size-fits-all training programs are not as effective as customized training sessions tailored to the unique needs of each department. By working closely with department heads or managers, IT trainers can gain insights into the specific challenges and requirements of each team. This allows law firm IT trainers to design programs that address these needs directly, making them more relevant and valuable to the department. I heard trainers who had tailored different approaches to each of their firm’s practice groups, partners, attorneys and staff. Even new hire orientations were designed to provide only the information that the new person required, rather than one giant dump of all the HR/IT information stored by the firm. (All of this is easy to manage with a learning management system that enables you to build plug-and-play learning paths for each audience.)
Law Firm IT Trainers Must Provide Timely Support
When colleagues encounter technical difficulties, it’s crucial for law firm IT trainers to respond promptly and professionally. By offering timely assistance and solutions, IT trainers can establish themselves as reliable resources in the eyes of their colleagues. This not only builds trust but also encourages other departments to seek assistance when needed. Then, when you need to mandate training for a new rollout, your colleagues will recognize that you provide valuable help and they are more likely to participate fully.
Offer IT Training Workshops, Lunch-and-Learns, or Quick Tutorials
Hosting workshops or lunch-and-learn sessions on various technology topics can be an excellent way for IT trainers to engage with colleagues from other departments. I even know of a trainer who hosts “Learn Something New Wednesdays.” These informal sessions provide an opportunity for employees to learn new skills and ask questions in a relaxed and collaborative setting. It also allows IT trainers to showcase their expertise and build rapport with attendees.
Collaborate on Projects
Another effective way to build relationships with colleagues from other departments is by actively participating in cross-departmental projects. Whether it’s implementing new software, improving data security, or enhancing document management systems, IT trainers can contribute their technical expertise to these initiatives. Collaborative projects not only help IT trainers understand the unique challenges faced by other departments but also demonstrate their commitment to the firm’s overall success.
Seek Feedback and Continuous Improvement
Feedback is essential for growth and improvement. IT trainers should regularly solicit feedback from colleagues in other departments about the quality and effectiveness of their training programs and support services. This feedback loop not only helps trainers refine their offerings but also shows a genuine interest in meeting the needs of their colleagues.
Law firm IT trainers have a unique opportunity to bridge the gap between technology and the legal profession. Building strong relationships with people in other departments is not only beneficial for enhancing IT services but also for fostering a collaborative and cohesive work environment.
Did you pick up any bridge-building tips at ILTACON 23? Share them with me via email!