Fostering Continuous Development

Posted on

1 Jul

2024

Dittmar & Indrenius > Insight > Fostering Continuous Development

Q&A with Mikael Ahtokari, Director, People & Culture

Q: How do you support continuous learning and development?

“Our approach to continuous learning and development is multi-faceted and deeply integrated into our daily operations. The key aspect is our dynamic team structure, which is closely linked to our Powerhouse method. By working in different teams tailored to specific client projects, our lawyers are exposed to a wide range of legal issues, perspectives and collaborative problem-solving approaches. We believe this method enhances our lawyers’ appreciation of the interconnectedness of different legal areas and business phenomena.

All teams hold weekly meetings where team members come together to discuss the various issues they are working on. This not only keeps everyone up to date, but also provides a platform to share insight and best practices. In addition, we host a quarterly forum for each group of employees at the same career stage across deparments. The aim is to share knowledge and explore tailored topics, learn from each other’s experience and expertise and foster collaboration by building relationships across the firm. We also organise bi-annual events for all employees with a focus on personal development. These events aim to address broader themes and professional skills such as leadership, business development and emerging trends in the legal industry. By providing a mix of frequent, targeted learning opportunities and broader, more in-depth training, we ensure that all our people continue to develop both their technical expertise and their overall professional competencies.”

Q: How do you enable individual learning paths for each employee?

“We enable individual learning paths through a diverse approach that includes job rotation, systematic internal knowledge sharing, acquiring external expertise and working in cross-functional teams with colleagues and clients.

While much of the individual growth and learning takes place through day-to-day tasks, we also provide specific tools and practices to facilitate development. A key part of this system is mapping out each employee’s development path in a personalized learning plan with the guidance of a designated Star Coach within the firm. Each employee is paired with a Star Coach who acts as a sparring partner on a range of work-related issues and plays a crucial role in providing support, identifying growth opportunities, such as specific cross-practice projects that align with the
employee’s development milestones.

For our young lawyers, the journey typically begins with a broad exposure to different areas of law, which gradually narrows down to more specific and tailored roles. Besides developing a wellrounded skill set before specializing, this approach gives room for individual exploring of interesting legal areas.

As to other people working at us, we address their specific training needs through development discussions, which are integral to understanding their strengths, areas for improvement, and career ambitions. Only by considering all these factors, we can provide targeted training and development opportunities that are relevant and impactful.”

Q: In what ways does your work culture foster learning?

“As an employer, we aim to create a progressive and inspiring working environment for talented people. Achieving this goal requires a culture that is psychologically safe, promotes learning as a natural and continuous process and encourages collaborative problem solving.

We work hard to create and maintain an environment where people feel comfortable expressing their ideas, asking questions and admitting mistakes without fear of judgement, and I would say that it is the most important way to foster learning in any working community. Other important ways to achieve this goal are internal networks for knowledge sharing and for connecting our employees at the same career stage across departments so that they can learn from each other’s experience and expertise. Regular social activities and shared interest groups maintain open discussion culture and build interpersonal relationships and a sense of community, which are essential for a thriving learning culture.

“We work hard to create and maintain an environment where people feel comfortable expressing their ideas, asking questions and admitting mistakes without fear of judgement.”

Q: What areas will you focus on for learning and development in the near future?

“We will increase our focus on future training needs at different stages of our employees’ careers. This will include, in addition to legal expertise, leadership skills and business understanding and a systematic approach to building all relevant skills needed as an attorney or other kind of expert within our organisation. Raising awareness and knowledge in sustainability-related topics, and developing proficiency in utilizing new technologies are some examples of important topic areas. In addition, we will need to prioritize fostering a workplace that not only values but expects diversity, equity and inclusion To achieve that, we will need to provide continuous training to promote these principles and to enhance our abilities to serve a diverse clientele. Personally, I believe in promoting a curious and open mindset to identify and understand relevant phenomena”.

 

Read more: Sustainability Report 2023 (pdf)

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