Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Staff Meeting

I thought I'd let you look over my shoulder at my notes for a recent staff meeting, not that you'd be interested, but I think these may be helpful.

1.  I'm the attorney here.  Do you know what that means?

That only means that I went to law school and passed the bar.  It doesn't mean I'm smarter, it doesn't mean I know best, it simply means I'm the one with the student loans.  Therefore, if you disagree with my conclusion, or if you have information that may help me come to a different decision, I expect you to share it.  I will value that more than I will value you simply agreeing with me.

After a staff meeting some years ago, two of my directors came to me separately and each told me they disagreed with a decision I had made.  They shared some information which would have changed my mind.  I was not pleased.  I had to publicly change my decision (that affected many people, some who did not even know me).  Not a good feeling.  Don't do that to me.

2.  Be where you are supposed to be.

My number one pet peeve, by a far margin, is tardiness.  Show me you value this job and my time by showing up when you are supposed to.  After you tell me, for the third time in a row, that traffic delayed you, I expect you to be intelligent enough to leave your house earlier.  If you have a legitimate scheduling issue, I may work with you, but lack of proper planning gets no sympathy.

I had one receptionist that was often a few minutes late.  I remember driving to court one day, calling the office repeatedly to make sure she had come in.  Then, it hit me.  I was more worried about her showing up than I was about my case.  That's a waste of my time.  We fired her.  Don't be that person.

3.  Don't be afraid of the push.

If I like you, I will push you.  If I'm getting B-grade work from you, but I think you can do A-plus work, I will push you.  If I catch you slacking, I will push you.  It doesn't mean I have it out for you, it just means I want to see you grow.  If I ever stop pushing you to do better, start looking over your shoulder.  Start looking for another job, too.  It means I've given up on you.  I may be biding my time, but you will be replaced.  That's not a threat, because I like my team.  Just keep that in mind.  Don't be afraid of pressure.

4.  Don't lie.

This is a biggie.  I'm quick to give the benefit of the doubt.  I've needed grace often enough to know I need to dish it out as well.  And, I do.  In spades.  But, if you lie to me, regaining my trust will be near impossible to do.  Not impossible, but nearly so.  Even if you do regain my trust, it will be as tenuous as a strand of hair.  Take responsibility for your actions.  I don't like blame hunting.  For most of our problems, we don't have time.  I'm just trying to fix it and prevent it from happening again.  That process is a lot quicker if I know where to start.

And for heaven's sake, don't fudge your time sheet!  That's stealing.  I will find out, and when I do, it very well may be the last time sheet you sign here.

Don't make me think I made a mistake by trusting you.  I can be very hard on myself when I make a mistake, and I don't like to repeat the process.  That's not good for you if the mistake I made was trusting you.

5.  Don't poison the well.

We all drink from the same well here.  We all spend the majority of our weekdays here.  I don't expect everyone here to become drinking buddies, but I do expect everyone to make a huge effort to get along.  We all have quirks and issues (I have more quirks than any normal person should), so flare-ups are going to happen, but that should not be the norm.  I don't tolerate a lot of drama.  Clients can bring it in (it's how we make money), but they take it out with them.  If we start manufacturing our own drama, I will shut it down.  To that end, I can't stand gossip.  Don't bring it.  Handle your issues with your co-worker and leave everyone else out.  If that doesn't work, bring me in, but I'd better not be the last one in the office to find out.

When I was working as a consultant for this firm, I quickly identified three employees that were poisoning the work here.  They are no longer here.  It's that important to me.

6.  Pay follows work.

There's plenty of work to do here.  Don't be afraid to do some.  That means that, if you see work that needs to be done, don't let it sit just because it is not in your job description, or because you think you ought to get paid more to do it.  This is a small business.  Everyone wears multiple hats, and I will never ask you to do something I have never done or am unwilling to do.  In prior jobs, I have mowed lawns, I have cleaned toilets, I have worked with garbage, etc...  As the managing partner of this firm, I have answered phones, set appointments, and done many other things I ask you to do.  If I'm not too good to do it, neither are you.

There are some times when a promotion comes before you do the work. But, don't be afraid to take on greater responsibility if you have the ability to do so.  I see pay increase as a reward for good work, not as a way to improve work habits.  Usually, pay follows work, not the other way around.  Who knows?  You may end up being so good at some other work you pick up here, that I am forced to promote you to the new position and hire someone else to do your old job.  That's how I became co-owner and managing partner of this firm, even after the founder told me it would never happen.

Remember, if I ask you to do something new, it's a task.  If you do it before I tell you, it's initiative.


Sailorcurt said...

You sound like exactly the kind of person I like to work for.

Too bad I'm not in the Lawyering game.

Lawyer said...

Coming from you, I'm honored. Of course, I'm simply trying to treat people as I would want to be treated.