James Brewster
James Brewster
Managing Director: Birmingham Private Practice

Articles From the Team

It is you, not me. Listen up all you Managers!

Law firm clients of mine often talk about their USPs, a common one is their unique identity, their culture and clear set of values. I think honesty in the work place drives a positive culture. Whenever people look to address an issue with a work colleague they like, a lot of the time we are mindful of not upsetting our ‘friend’ and so we don’t actually tell them what they are doing wrong and sometimes make excuses for their behaviour and often blame ourselves “Don’t worry, it’s us. Not you” etc etc. You think you are doing them a favour, driving a positive culture of zero conflict but actually its having the opposite effect.

You may be reading this and can already think of somebody like this in your team. If a team member constantly makes the same mistake over and over again, no matter how embarrassing it is or how badly the offending person will take the bad news, they have to be told exactly what they are doing wrong. What sort of friend are you if you don’t tell them what it is that they are doing wrong and why they need to change? The knock on effect of not telling them often means other team members become disgruntled because if somebody is behaving in away that is perceived to be outside of the groups rules or set of values, it will cause unrest. Values are important, so long as everybody lives to them. When somebody doesn’t live to them, they need to be told. They should be sticking out like a sore thumb anyway if the values are truly being lived to by everybody else. If they aren’t sticking out, you have a bigger issue on your hands!

“But we can’t tell them, they’re our friend and they are valued within the business, they’ve been here a long time” I hear you say. How can they be valued if they don’t behave like everyone else?? Its your job as a friend to tell them. “What if they leave?” you ask. Now that is an interesting one. What would happen if they left? What would actually happen? You might be glad of it. After all, its likely that the person is causing some sleepless nights, general commotion at work and is being given far too much air time in the pub. So ultimately them not being there will probably help people focus on what really matters.

If you do have the conversation with them, well done. If its done in the right way and that person is truly a good employee, they will take it well and change for the good of team. They may be angry for a period, if so they will need to calm down but hopefully rational thought will prevail. Let them vent, don’t try and talk to them when they are angry, emotional and therefore irrational. If they lose the plot, blame everyone else and look for an exit, well, they were never a great fit anyway and were probably holding everyone else back. Ironically, they may have been unhappy for some time but hadn’t resigned because they thought that staying put would be better than leaving. In your mind, they were perfect when they joined but over time they have become less and less perfect. They might think the same i.e. the company was the dream move when they joined but over time it has become less compatible with their needs.

Ask yourself this question: Knowing what you know now, would you hire that person again? Dr Balaji Krishnamurthy talks about the “parking lot exercise” (car park to you and I) http://thinkshiftinc.com/story/are-some-of-your-employees-in-the-parking-lot. The quicker you tell people they are doing something that doesn’t fit, the better. Don’t let it fester.

For more information contact James Brewster at BCL Legal.

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