Once law firms get to a certain level, the main challenge is their team. I’ve witnessed many lawyers complain about and even fire team members only to have the next team member create the same challenges. Why? Let’s think this through together.
Mirror Mirror On the Wall, Who’s Responsible for It All?
If you’re having issue with a team member, I invite you to look to yourself first. You’re number one on the accountability chart and if you’re not, your firm will make yourself (as well as everyone else) miserable. Your firm will fail to thrive. It’s time to hold a big ol’ mirror up and be totally truthful with yourself.
Here are the questions you need to be asking yourself:
1.Did I provide a thorough and up-to-date job description, test assignments, and multiple conversations during the hiring process? Did I use a checklist of qualifications? Did I request team input? Did I check references? Did my challenging team member waive red flags that I chose to ignore?
2. Am I displaying bad behavior myself? Am I a PITA? Do I show anger and impatience? Do I lawyer-up, looking for and exploiting perceived inconsistencies or mistakes? Am I tolerating bad behavior in other team members? Do I order or ask? Am I creating a positive work environment? Am I passive/aggressive? Do I intimidate? Do I show appreciation?
3. Has that team member been properly trained? Are the right written policies/procedures in place? Have I been truly listening to feedback? Do I hold regular reviews, coaching sessions, and team meetings? Do I ask for input or do I dictate? Do I know how to communicate effectively with each team member’s work personality? Have I provided helpful feedback? Do I provide written instruction? Do I confirm that I’m understood? If there is a misunderstanding, do I shame the team member or make him feel stupid?
Everyone’s a Rock Star
I’ve heard lawyers brag about being hard to work with. That’s so not cool. Everyone’s a rockstar and if you’re quashing someone’s soul, take yourself out behind the wood shed. Then, for the love of lawyers, do something about it.
If you’ve done all those things and the team member isn’t a good fit, then letting him go so he can move on to the place where he can be a rockstar is the right thing to do. If you haven’t, take it as a learning opportunity. 100% self responsibility is the most important success principle in the legal solar system. Always start there.
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