Challenges For Lawyers: Working in Interdisciplinary Teams
This series of reflections are based on a work developed as complementary handouts for workshops on M&A topics realised originally for the AIJA Winter Session of 2020.
As a business psychological consulting team, we would like to contribute to this session offering you some insights based on our specific studies in social and business psychology as well as on the experience gained with clients in similar roles to yours.
Starting from the briefing offered us by your colleague, we understood that one of your goals might be to overcome the challenges of working in interdisciplinary teams.
What sort of prejudice towards other professionals or approaches do we have, or perceive on us? What impact can they have on our performance, both individually and as a team? How to overcome them?
Our brain is wired to be effective and efficient. One of the most powerful resources in this regard are Heuristics. We could consider them short cuts that allow us to be faster in decision making. This function is designed to help us focus only on relevant issues and process less significant information more efficiently. Unfortunately, we happen to overuse this cognitive strategy and apply it also against our own interest.
When this happens we turn a Heuristic into a Bias.
A Bias applies a general, superficial, rule to a specific situation or person. For instance, we consider all Germans to be precise, or Italians to be inaccurate, or all women to be sensitive and all men to be rational… further we may consider all lawyers to be critical or all engineers to be rigid. Biases are the biggest enemy of interdisciplinary and intercultural teams, especially as they are often unconscious!
How to overcome then?
Make it an exception.
Consider each team member as an individual, beyond gender, culture or profession. Make sure to call them by name, this allows your brain to overcome the general category and create a new, more accurate, one.
Make it an opportunity… for them.
Don’t consider your team members as mere executors, make this project their project. Help them recognise the opportunity this projects represents for them.
Make it one team.
Before getting into delivery mode, align on overarching criteria. Clarify the main goal and identify the client’s KPI, the metrics that are relevant to the client beyond your respective professional references.
We will develop on this topic complex and crucial topic even further in the Saturday morning session.
We are well aware that these inputs are just the tip of the iceberg. They are meant as a teaser and starter for your own reflections.