Recently I’ve been working with two very different clients that have exactly the same challenges-incompetent staff. One is a partner at a national firm, and the other is a small firm owner. If you follow my writing you will note that I have been a very vocal advocate for lawyers and staff in that I believe in giving them everything they need to succeed in the way of development and support.
This however is one of those times where I am clearly on the side of ownership/management.
Their perspective is limited while mine is broad working with lawyers, paralegals and mgt across Canada. And from my perspective there are some pretty talented and amazing people out there. So there is no good reason to settle for incompetence whatsoever!
When they don’t show up, show up late, or constantly produce inadequate work? When they constantly complain. When they… Time to let them go. Don’t settle for less than excellent. Your clients won’t.
In addition to performing poorly, these people will drag the rest of your team down to their level. When you settle with the bar so low, other people will follow. Be firm. Be clear on expectations. Give them support and encouragement. But sometimes it doesn’t work out and you need to let them go. Don’t worry-there are great people out there who would love to work for a great boss like you!
I am a fan of keeping a running ‘to-do’ list updated each day. Not only do I use it myself, I suggest this to all of my clients. Things will come at you from all directions, that is a given. But if you start with a plan for your day, when you are sidetracked, you have something to go back to so you can get focused again.
Start with ‘Must do’ items. These are your top priorities and likely based on client needs. Then look at ‘Should do’ tasks. And finally, ‘Like to do’. They may change throughout your day, but this will help you keep pace with your ever-changing demands.
Each night before you leave the office, review your day, and plan ahead for tomorrow. Think about coming into the office the next morning fresh, with a plan, and ready to hit the ground running.
Practice this. Over time it will become 2nd nature to you and alleviate a great deal of your day-to-day stress.
Another thing. When and where possible, get the mundane tasks (the ones you continually procrastinate about), out-of-the-way first. This will give you a great sense of accomplishment and free your mind up for the more important tasks you face. You know what these tasks are: recording your time, and small admin things that pile up. They won’t go away, so you might as well tackle them first and then move on to the work that you enjoy.
Think about a time when a leader really stood out for you. It could have been on a sports team, a teacher, public figure, manager, friend, or mentor. Do you remember why they stood out? Do you remember why you respected them so much?
Take a minute to write down the qualities that you admire or admired. Then write down how they made you feel. Did they inspire you do to better or your best? Did they teach your something valuable? Did they instill a feeling in you that you had potential and could achieve anything you wanted if you put your mind to it? Did they make you feel part of the team? Did you feel they listened to you?
If you are in a leadership position, any position, take a look at your notes and then follow that approach with the people you are leading. And watch how they respond to you. You will be well on your way to taking your team, project, group or firm to an entirely new level.
As a coach I am acutely aware of how people in general look at change. It’s big, scary, unknown, and can be intimidating; filled with apprehension. The funny thing about change is that it is one of the most ‘constants’ of our daily life.
If you are looking to change something, anything, it all starts with forming new habits. I encourage you not to look at how far you need to go, but look at what you can do today to start on the path forward.
Based on my work and my own life and business experience, the most important thing about forming new habits is consistency. It’s less important how much time you devote to this new habit, and far more important to do it every day-that builds the habit! Let’s face it, we are all busy, Some days you will have more time than others to focus on your new habit. That’s ok.
The other day I was at the gym. I had a busy day but decided a short work out was better than no work out. I was chatting with a couple of personal trainers about this. They work with people every day, just like me, helping them to form new habits. They both totally agreed that it was far more important to establish the ‘habit’, than how long you were doing it.
So, one day at a time. Whatever new habit you are looking to form, whether it’s about eating, exercise, business, relationships, giving more time to yourself; do something, even it it’s just a little focus, everyday. Before you know it, this new habit will become second nature, a part of your daily routine. And you will be one step closer to your goal. In fact, keep it up every day and before you know it, you won’t be able to live without it.