Rule No. 5: Learning Lessons Does Not End

Once again, this course, “When to Lay the Weapons Down” was written for attorneys and the lessons were loosely based around Rules for Being Human.   While you may not be an attorney, this is based on how you work with the people around you, those above and below you.   It is attitude, not position or title that makes a leader or a follower.  As you read the questions below, you will see the same question for how the attorney treats his or her secretary or paralegal.  This is because in the law hierarchy, these are considered different classes and valued differently.

LEARNING LESSONS DOES NOT END

There is no part of life that does not contain its lessons.  If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.

PERFORMANCE   REVIEWS

It is tradition for reviews to always flow downwards from top to bottom.  Many times, a higher standard of excellence would be achieved if it was occasionally reversed.

At the risk of being accused of heresy, the following exercise is for you to imagine how your staff would review you.  The following was made up by polling legal secretaries and paralegals.  It is worth noting that both groups wanted, above everything else, to know in current time, rather than at review time, what they could do to improve their work performance.

Description Poor Needs Improvement Good Excellent
Do you let your secretary know where you are going or how you can be reached?
Do you give your secretary concise instructions?
Do you give your paralegal concise instructions?
Do you turn your timesheets in daily?
Do you write in a legible manner?
Description Poor Needs Improvement Good Excellent
Do you put documents in your out-box and “assume” your secretary will know what to do with them, without giving necessary instructions?
Do you wait until the last minute to do things and then expect your secretary to return the project in an unrealistic amount of time?
Do you wait until the last minute to do things and then expect your paralegal to return the project in an unrealistic amount of time?
Do you answer your own calls or expect every call to be screened?
Do you treat your secretary with respect?
Do you treat your paralegal with respect?
Do you interrupt your secretary when she is in the middle of working on a rush for you?
Do you interrupt your paralegal when he is in the middle of working on a rush for you?
Do you ask your secretary to do things for you that you should do yourself?
Do you ask your paralegal to do things for you that you should do yourself?
Do you require your secretary to work on projects that are of a personal nature and not related to client or firm business?
Do you require your paralegal to work on projects that are of a personal nature and not related to client or firm business?
When your secretary needs information from you in order to complete a project for you, do you give him/her the information he/she needs as soon as possible?
When your paralegal needs information from you in order to complete a project for you, do you give him/her the information he/she needs as soon as possible?
Do you ask your secretary to make excuses for you or blame things on your secretary for which he is not responsible?
Description Poor Needs Improvement Good Excellent
Do you ask your paralegal to make excuses for you or blame things on your paralegal for which she is not responsible?
Do you make your secretary feel like she does not have a brain?
Do you make your paralegal feel like he does not have a brain?
Do you thank your secretary when he goes beyond the call of duty?
Do you thank your paralegal when she goes beyond the call of duty?
Do you take things out on your secretary or vent on him/her unnecessarily?
Do you take things out on your paralegal or vent on her/him unnecessarily?
Do you spend time visiting with your secretary so she is unable to perform her duties and then question why a project has not been completed?
Do you spend time visiting with your paralegal so he is unable to perform his duties and then question why a project has not been completed?
Do you require your secretary to “read your mind”?
Do you require your paralegal to “read your mind?”
Do you communicate with your secretary and keep him apprised of upcoming projects or dump projects on him at the last minute with no prior notification?
Do you communicate with your paralegal and keep her apprised of upcoming projects or dump projects on her at the last minute with no prior notification?
Do you try to make your secretary stay late and “not write down the overtime”?
Are you clear in communicating to your paralegal the billing time appropriate for a project?
Do you allow your secretary to take breaks and/or lunches when she wants to or do you require that she do so according to your schedule?
Description Poor Needs Improvement Good Excellent
Do you ask your secretary to delegate work to others that would more appropriately be passed on from you directly either verbally or via a memorandum?
Do you criticize your secretary’s performance behind his back rather than discussing it directly with him and giving him the opportunity to improve?
Do you criticize your paralegal’s performance behind her back rather than discussing it directly with her and giving her the opportunity to improve?
Do you revise your documents over and over and over and over and over again unnecessarily?
When dictating, do you dictate clearly?  Do you eat while dictating?  Yawn?  Chew gum?  Sigh?  (Noises are magnified – have you ever listened and/or typed your own work product dictation?
When your secretary catches a mistake on your part, do you appreciate her or punish her for it?
When your paralegal catches a mistake on your part, do you appreciate him or punish him for it?
When you win, do you remember your staff?

COMMENTS:                                                                                                                                                _

To be continued…  Rule No. 6 coming up next.

Note: This is part of the AWOL Manual, “When to Lay the Weapons Down,” copyrighted 1995, renewed 2008

12 thoughts on “Rule No. 5: Learning Lessons Does Not End

  1. Hunt, I took a long time going thru the evaluation as written, and in fairness, I would have aced this. I was a great boss, not always having been the boss, from those before me I took the good, what I liked, and what was right and made it a part of my “style.” By the same token I left behind from bosses that which didn’t work for me, that which was destructive, and that which was just plain wrong. I know I was far from perfect, and I know I was hard to work for, but I was always fair, and I always treated my staff with the utmost respect. (even thumper). Yes these evaluation criteria could be applied to any field at any level. It is a shame, that 95 pct of bosses and corporate environments don’t look at their evaluation systems in such a manner. This was an extremely good lesson, a very difficult lesson, but I had a ton of opportunities to see many bosses and eval systems up close and personal. I got to learn from them. Everyone is not as fortunate. Great work, take care Bill

    Like

    • As I was reading it again and uploading it, I thought of you, Bill. From prior comments, I had a feeling you would ace this for the exact reasons you state. I confess to being surprised you got so much out of this one. I kinda thought people would find it too outside their field. So glad I was wrong. 🙂

      Like

  2. having been on both ends of the management scale, I like to think I’d have done reasonably well on this.
    But being a manager also taught me I don’t ever want to manage people again.

    Like

  3. Looking at these lessons, I could name quite a few bosses who would score very poorly on their own habits. It was interesting to read what the “employees” would choose to review their bosses on!

    Like

    • Yes, I remember being a bit surprised as well. Curiously, in California, it was always attorney and staff vs. Human Resources, whereas here, in Seattle, Washington, it is staff and H.R. vs. the attorneys.

      Like

  4. I would have flunked a couple of bosses I had during my working career. I sure like the idea of reversing performance reviews, especially with difficult managers. Their bosses should then evaluate the results compiled by the employees. I’m giddy imagining what a great idea this is. No, I don’t mean give the boss a taste of his or her own medicine but more of leveling the field.

    Loving this. Of course if shows. 🙂

    Like

Come talk with me...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s