Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Top 10 Ways a Lawyer Can Mismanage Staff

Listserve question: "How can I fire this employee?" Readers were outraged at the behavior described and in post after post eagerly and sagely gave advice.  It took all day for someone to finally add that the original poster might consider taking some personal responsibility for being at the firing stage with his employee.  I've been concerned that I'm showing up too much like a preacher than a coach on this list, so I didn't comment there. Now I transfer that risk to my own blog!

With that, here's my top 10 list of ways you can mismanage your staff:

  1. Don't define the job - you think it's Y, he thinks it's W

  2. Accept pitiful performance - you think good performance looks like Q, he thinks it looks like G

  3. Keep doing the same stuff - you think telling him something three times will improve his ability to "get it"

  4. Everything is urgent - you don't prioritize or specify deadlines

  5. Be inaccessible - you don't have time to answer questions or give guidance

  6. Give vague feedback - your performance feedback isn't specific, based on examples or observable

  7. Feedback only comes at bonus time (or when you want to fire him) - you give performance feedback only when you "have" to

  8. Look the other way - you don't handle office problems

  9. Waste their time - you assign the same task to multiple people

  10. Inappropriate conduct - you behave inappropriately, unprofessionally or disrespectful
If you don't deal with performance issues by establishing standards when Joe Newbie comes on board, by observing and giving Joe feedback, and by letting Joe know if his performance isn't up to par- then you might end up checking the "How can I fire" thread of advice yourself.

Ineffective hiring and eventual firing cost far more in dollars and energy than the time it takes to screen, hire and then manage employees.  Block time for your role as a manager and create an effective team.