“It’s only April, and she’s already missed 16 days this year!”
Every week, I speak with law firm leaders or employees who, having reached the end of their rope, let their frustration—whether with a boss, a particular colleague, or an employee—absolutely explode. Nine out of ten times, their grand plan to address these bubbled-over frustrations is to have a “come to Jesus meeting” first thing the next morning.
The emotional seduction of a come to Jesus meeting is hard to resist. I’ve had my fair share of come to Jesus meetings, pacing outside my boss’s door, or stalking him in the hallway as he was hurrying back from the bathroom. However, after some painful meetings and whole lot of aggravation, I realized that I’m not Jesus, I don’t perform miracles, and thus, come to Jesus meetings don’t work.
The idea behind a come to Jesus meeting that you have the chance to “lay down the law.” You can voice your grievance and let its severity be known. You can let the offender know that you simply won’t tolerate this-or-that behavior anymore. This style of meeting leverages fear-mongering and shock value. But the most shocking thing of all is that, for a month or two, it actually works…even though these kinds of meetings focus more on problems than on solutions.
Now, back to the boss who was so frustrated with his employee’s poor attendance…
This boss was determined to have a come to Jesus meeting with the offending employee, letting her know that she would be fired if she didn’t change her ways. However, diving deeper into the conversation, the boss admitted that he didn’t think she was faking sick. He believe that she was truly overwhelmed by the position. She was young and smart—had been quickly promoted from reception to Client Services Coordinator. She was a full-time college student, also running a small online business on the side. The boss agreed that she had too much on her plate. She was literally burning herself out to the point that she would become sick and miss work.
A come to Jesus meeting would fix all of that…right?
Well, for about two weeks, it did. She seemed to be doing better. Of course, this was completely out of fear—she didn’t want to be fired! She was a good employee with integrity…she wanted to be a good employee, and was probably disappointed in herself for letting the boss down. But no one can operate on fear for that long. We usually see the behavioral changes instigated by a come to Jesus meeting fade away after about 60-days.
And that is why come to Jesus meetings don’t work: problem resolution does not occur. In this situation, the employee was able to act in a certain way for a limited period of time, but she didn’t really know how to stop the problem at its root. She didn’t know how not to burn herself out with so many balls in the air. She didn’t know how to not make herself sick—literally—with overwhelm.
This goes the other way, too. If you’re an employee and you’ve given your boss an ultimatum, chances are that he or she doesn’t actually know how to solve the problem. They only know how to temporarily change their behavior to quell your dissatisfaction. But, again, within 60-days, those changes will become unsustainable, and you’ll be back to square #1.
So, what is the alternative to a come to Jesus meeting? In this situation, the employee just needed some help handling the many tasks on her plate. She needed help organizing and prioritizing her to-do list. In fact, anytime that anyone feels a come to Jesus meeting is necessary, it almost always comes back to the need for training and development, to further develop some key soft skills.
A note to bosses, it’s hard to resist the urge to complete these tasks for your employees, but it’s important that they learn these skills for themselves. You know, the whole give-a-man-a-fish thing…
Fortunately, that’s what we do. We teach law firm leaders and their teams to fish, so to speak.
At Hiring & Empowering Solutions, we work alongside law firm leaders and their teams, helping each member of the team to develop and refine the skills they need to better support each other, and the firm as a whole. Our Team Empowerment Academy offers weekly, virtual Masterclasses and over 200 tools and techniques, designed to develop and empower employees—and deliver measurable results in 10-weeks or less.
If you’re on the verge of having yet another come to Jesus meeting, stop and call us first. In fact, schedule a free discovery session with me by clicking the button below now. I’d love to hear what’s going on at your firm and give you some guidance towards permanently overcoming your struggles!