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Red Cave Consulting Law Practice Management Tip

Wrong Distance: Creating an Employer-Employee Relationship

Managing people kind of sucks; it’s one of the hardest things to do as a business owner.  And, it’s hard to generate a formal employer/employee relationship, especially the first time you ever hire somebody.

You see it all the time; but, if you get too buddy-buddy with your employee, and you try to act like somebody’s friend – the next thing you know, your work ‘friend’ is taking three-hour lunches, or bagging at 3 pm, without any kind of notice.  This kind of thing is particularly fraught in a remote work environment.

Now, this can be remedied; but, it’s tough to fix (but, not impossible), once the horse is already out of the barn.  But, you also don’t need an internal HR person or COO, to make to create a professional distance between you and your staff(person).

There are several things you can do, even as solo business owner, to build in some control over your employee(s).  For one, it helps to have job descriptions.  How else is someone supposed to know what their work should entail?  If you think your staff is going off-book, but there’s no book – they may just be trying to do their best to support the business, in an environment in which little guidance exists.  Now that you’ve got a job description, have your employee sign off on it – as well as the rules of professional conduct respecting the confidentiality of client data in your jurisdiction, while you’re at it.  Next, be clear about the things you don’t want to happen; if you think an employee is doing something they shouldn’t be doing, or not performing in a way that they should be – tell them.  And, identify what you do want.  If the behavior continues, issue a verbal warning; then, written warnings.  In terms of tracking an employee’s work – you don’t have to be Big Brother, and logging keystrokes; but, instituting workflows make it more obvious what people should be doing and when.  It’s also to determine when they’re not doing those things.  Finally, this should be a working relationship – so, you should be transparent with your employees, and solicit their input.  But, you have to remain ‘the boss’; and, it must be known that your decision is final.

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Want to talk more about hiring for the first time, or righting some wrongs, in terms of how you deal with your existing employees?  Contact us today!

The Rhode Island Bar Association offers free law practice management consulting services through Red Cave Law Firm Consulting.                                         

To request a consult, visit the Rhode Island Bar’s law practice management page, and start running your law firm like a business.