When it comes to small law, the caliber of your staff can be a blessing…or a curse. If you have a team of empowered employees who are willing to step up and lead, well, that’s the blessing side of the legal staffing spectrum. However, when even just one member of your team is an uninspired, unmotivated nine-to-fiver with an unwillingness to work hard for the benefit of your firm, that’s where the curse comes in. And the biggest effect is the drain it has on the rest of your team—just one unmotivated employee can poison or tax the focus and motivation of other team members. It’s essential you provide your team members who are actively working to grow your small law firm with an environment of like-minded co-workers.
As legal staffing experts, we know how important it is to find, recruit and hire the exact right team member for the open position at your firm. We also know how time-consuming the recruiting and hiring process can be. And time is money, right? Small and solo law firms choose to hire us to handle their law firm staffing needs, because they want to hire the right person the first time…without wasting time, energy, resources and money.
But, of course, in many situations, small law firm leaders try to manage their hiring processes independently. And oftentimes what happens is that they hire in haste, welcoming team members with a less-than-ideal set of qualifications, and personal characteristics that are misaligned with the corporate culture of their firm. This is where the whole curse thing comes into play.
What makes matters even worse is that, even though these team members fail to perform time and time again, small law firm leaders keep them on staff! Maybe it’s a pride thing, or maybe its just failure to understand the nuances of the legal staffing world…but if an employee isn’t cutting it, then they need to be cut from the team.
Here are a few examples of behaviors, attitudes and actions that we suggest you don’t tolerate at your small law practice:
1. No sense of urgency: A good employee gets the job done quickly, even if the deadline is a month away. This opens up your team member’s production schedule to be able to address last-minute challenges that arise, without putting your firm at risk for missing important deadlines or not delivering within the timeframe promised to a client.
2. Doesn’t request clarification or details: How can an employee deliver to the standards of your firm if he or she has no idea what those standards are? A good employee asks questions and leaves nothing to the imagination.
3. Unfocused: Without focus, problems don’t get solved. Period. If your employee is all over the place, chances are nothing is getting accomplished.
4. Doesn’t face-to-face with you: Employees who prefer to communicate via email, online chat, or text will not be able to extract your enthusiasm and passion and infuse it into their work. Face time isn’t always possible, but high performing team members will take advantage of it when it’s available.
5. Refusal to dig below the surface: Unmotivated team members often avoid conversations and interactions that dig beneath the surface. They are uncomfortable working to uncover the root issue of behaviors and problems. They are not coachable. Thus, there isn’t much you can do to engage or change those behaviors. They may not be the best fit for your firm.
In some situations, these traits can be remedied with proper employee empowerment and engagement efforts. But if you are going above and beyond to give your employees the tools they need to succeed—and are showing your appreciation for them along the way—and they still exhibit these unproductive behaviors, then it’s time to put an end to the curse and hire Hiring & Empowering Solutions to staff your firm with the kind of talent that makes you feel blessed.