How do you improve performance as head of L&D?

How do you improve performance as head of L&D?

There are few initiatives that can effectively demonstrate a measurable improvement in performance of a team or the firm overall as efficiently as developing fee earners financial and commercial acumen.


When Learning & Development can actually target a specific team and provide a demonstrable improvement in lock up, fees, debtors and cash flow – the real levers within the business, it is truly cause for celebration. Not only for the learning and development team and those who partner effectively with them, but also for the firm. Because fee earners and especially lawyers, are extremely intelligent but while they understand the principles of running their own firm intellectually they fail to grasp the necessity of changing behaviour to improve commercial performance.


We had great fun, and great success, two weeks ago when we were asked by one of the prominent US Law firms to run our tremendous business simulation, called Ready4Business in Hamburg for 100 of their fee earners from across the globe. In common with Bird & Bird, Moore Stephens and many other successful professional firms, they realised the impact our business simulation can have.


A number of us flew out to Hamburg and had a fantastic time engaging a range of very bright individuals from different nationalities, in a fiercely competitive environment, where groups of six people were in competition. Each group represented the senior management team of a newly established firm, tasked with raising finance, setting fee rates, pitching for work, investing in people and business development, in order to drive their strategy and create the most successful firm.


In a fast paced and exciting environment, we are able to not only have fun with delegates but also ensure they understand that every decision made reflects precisely the position that their managing partners and teams are in when they return home. Each decision taken has an impact on the way contracts are awarded and the view that the market takes of the firm. Building in every possible variable such as:


  • Breadth of knowledge
  • Brand
  • Employee engagement and salaries
  • Business development
  • Bidding
  • Value pricing
  • Client service


We are able to make the simulation as realistic and true to life as possible – without a roll of the dice in sight!


There were some very interesting approaches taken to each firms go to market strategy, not least the very entrepreneurial team that wanted to take out a massive loan to flood the market with advertising in order to win all the contracts and devour the competition! Despite being a cunning plan, the bankers would not let a nascent firm be so highly leveraged and so the simulation played out reflecting real life and the tough decisions that every senior earner has to face, balancing recruitment levels, keeping their team gainfully employed while building a pipeline. A task that is not so easy when you need to recruit before you win that work, and where winning work at the wrong price means you undermine your profitability.


One of the most effective techniques that we have finessed over the years is in allowing the teams themselves to choose the winners. We might ask at the end of the final round, “…which firm would you wish to join as partner and why?” This forces fee earners to look at historic performance, the size of the firm, in terms of fees and staff, loans and leverage, the income growth but also the pipeline of work that they have created going into the future and they reputation in the market place. A suitable team prize can then be awarded!


If you would like your finance director to be grateful to you for the investment he made in L&D when you were able to demonstrate a reduction in the lock up, and increase in value billing, improved utilisation and better recoveries, then get in touch because we would love to talk to you.


Find out more about the best business simulation in the marketplace by calling Paul on 01892 610060 or emailing