The Difficult People: Who They Are & How to Keep Them from Ruining Your Law Firm
These toxic individuals must be defused. Here’s how:
There are difficult people everywhere. You know – the ones who challenge your patience, insist on having things their way, and are constantly annoying, pushy, and controlling. In life, it’s nearly impossible to avoid encounters with folks who are tough to get along with. But when it comes to your law firm, you must be able to identify these individuals and keep them from wreaking havoc on your practice. Here’s a run-down of our favorite difficult people and how you can counteract them:
The Drama Queen
Despite the feminine connotation of the term, the drama queen can be male or female. This is the person who always has some emergency, major issue, or problem taking over their life (and it’s usually never their fault). They are always making mistakes and blaming others; always claiming to be the victim of someone else’s error; and blowing issues out of proportion. The drama queen often spends a lot of time rushing around in a panic, calling you, and badgering your inbox with an elaborate tale to weasel their way out of a missing deadline.
Handling the drama queen takes a lot of perseverance. You need to begin to hold this person accountable for his or her own mistakes. It may seem easier to beat around the bush, and it probably is, in the short term, but it’s crucial to stress the importance of personal responsibility. Implement a system of consequences when an error occurs or a deadline is missed. If necessary, keep a progress record and even consider putting them on probation if things don’t improve.
The Smarty Pants
Everyone has met a know-it-all and it’s not surprising that most law firms have at least one of these types amongst them. And although the smarty pants people are typically smart and usually well-equipped to excel at their jobs, their giant egos and seemingly superlative intelligence tend to get in the way quite often. Nobody really likes a know-it-all, and having an attorney in your midst who cuts others off when they’re trying to get a point across can be a total hazard. It’s time to take action.
Wrangle your smarty pants attorneys by giving them complex and difficult cases to work. Doing this will not only keep them occupied and engaged, it may also make them less inclined to impart unnecessary wisdom on the cases of others.
The “woe is me” person can really have a detrimental effect on your team. Identify this crybaby by their inclination to complain and find the negative in every situation. Although they’re mostly talk, it’s precisely this type of attitude that can bring the team down and cause morale to slump. While they usually don’t mean any harm, dealing with the bellyacher is crucial to ensuring that their mindset doesn’t impact your firm’s culture or productivity.
Helping your bellyacher understand that it’s important to have boundaries and to stick to facts could be a bit of a challenge. Take some time to explain that you are willing to listen, but they must respect the firm’s goal to remain a positive environment.
We’ve all had to deal with a co-worker who is self-centered, has temper tantrums, and refuses to see other’s points of view. This person is manipulative and does whatever it takes to get his or her way. The baby can cause major upset in your firm if not handled properly because they don’t often consider other’s feelings. Unfortunately, the baby is usually ok with stepping on toes, doing things behind people’s back, and solely having their own interests at heart.
Putting the baby in his or her place is essential to your firm’s survival. In fact, if you can’t get this person back down to earth, you may consider getting rid of them promptly. Having an egocentric employee on your team can compel quality attorneys to seek employment elsewhere – the last thing you need or want to happen.
Having difficult people in your firm can adversely affect your team, your level of productivity, and your success. Follow these tips on identifying and mitigating them, and if all else fails, take the appropriate action to protect your practice.
Check out our blog for more helpful ways to improve your law firm. Remember to turn to us when you need experienced, real-time court reporters. We lead the industry and have been the preferred partner of law firms throughout South Florida for more than two decades. Schedule your court reporter online or give us a call at 954-467-6867.