Stress gets a bad rap. So often heeded as “the bad guy,” stress actually serves a vital role in our lives. It pushes us to accomplish tasks more efficiently, produces our body’s fight-or-flight response, and can even improve memory. So, while wishing for a stress-free career sounds nice, as professionals, we strive when stress is present in our day-to-day.
However, especially as attorneys and entrepreneurs, the stress of running a small law firm or solo practice can sometimes get the best of us. And by “sometimes” we mean “pretty damn often.” From troublesome cases and dissatisfied clients, to employees who need to be babysat and aren’t pulling their weight, the stress of running a business and being an attorney can be pretty burdensome. And it can also lead to anger. And that anger tends to come out in the worst way…and is nine times out of ten directed at an employee.
Maybe one too many balls was dropped. Maybe your employees were getting too wrapped up in senseless office drama, leaving them disconnected and distracted. Maybe you were just sick of helping your staff with tasks that they should be able to easily accomplish without any involvement from you at all. But either way, something pushed your stress levels past their breaking point and now…you’re upset. Really upset.
We all get upset and triggered at work. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t. But learning to get upset at work without sacrificing your professionalism is superhero stuff. Here is some advice for keeping your calm and staying compassionate when the going gets rough…while still holding your team members accountable for their actions.
1. Keep calm and ask for advice…before saying anything. Explosions happen because leaders don’t take the time to cool off before confronting their employee(s). Run the situation by a trusted colleague or business coach, see what a neutral person has tor say about the situation. Burn off steam by taking a quick walk, or running out to your car to scream at the top of your lungs. Write down the details of the situation as you see it—your perspective, their perspective, and any suspected misunderstandings. And please, before having “the talk,” determine a desired end result so that your conversation is focused on a specific goal.
2. Use “I” statements and forget about placing blame. When you focus on your feelings, you open the door to a more productive conversation that feels like less of an attack on your employee. It also shows them that their behavior has impacted you, and how. Don’t place blame on your employee; rather, suggest a solution and discuss how to best realize it. This is a more compassionate and constructive approach that will also hold your employee accountable.
3. Don’t be afraid to walk away. If you find that the conversation isn’t going well and you’re getting angry all over again, walk away. It’s okay to admit you’re at an impasse. Sometimes, issues need time and space before they can be resolved.
4. Follow-up with your employee. If your conversation goes well and you and your team member are able to come to a mutually satisfying resolution, great! Just make sure you reach out via email to recap the discussion and confirm the action plan. Don’t forget to thank them for their time and perspective—part of accountability is making employees feel ownership.
5. Prevent stress & anger by developing your team. If you really want to cut back on the amount of time you spend upset at work, invest in coaching, training and development for your team members. In our 20+ years of experience, we’ve seen so much untapped potential go wasted because employees weren’t properly coached and empowered. An employee training and development program could change your attitude—and your firm.
At the end of the day, no one is perfect and we’re all going to slip up and blow our lids at work from time to time. However, following these tips and properly developing your team can help prevent workplace explosions and keep your conversations calm, your leaders compassionate, and your team members empowered and engaged.
Start Coaching & Developing Your Law Firm’s Team Today
Hiring & Empowering Solutions offers the only nationally-recognized employee empowerment program. Based on our decades of experience, this program promises measurable results within 8 weeks. Your employees will come out of it with new skills that will enable them to take day-to-day tasks off your plate so you can focus on your top revenue-producing activities. Schedule a quick call with our co-founder, Molly Hall, today and learn how we can support your law firm and its team.