A number of small practitioners have rung me up recently to talk about their staffing needs. One in particular struck me with his lament. "I need a secretary, Dom, they are not called that anymore, right? I need someone to help keep my clients' confidential matters. I have been sitting on this for some time now, since Spring time." Prodded a little bit more on why they have not hired one, it seemed that the last few they have hired have fallen short of their expectations. "I hired Mary 25 years ago, when I was just starting my practice, she was the one who showed me the ropes. I have lost count on how many times she saved my bacon. She knew what was more important. She knew when to chime in, but for the most part, she just did her work. Quietly. Too bad she retired. The young ones are not like her. High maintenance."
I could not help but think about Star Trek's resident Betazoid Deanna Troi, who possessed a high level of emotional empathy (EQ); she served as an effective counselor to Captain Picard. In the real world, EQ is harnessed over time, often just by working with the lawyer closely.
(Photo courtesy of www.startrek.com)
I acknowledged that they were right: finding someone who had a high EQ would be challenging, but the key is to design a concise and clear job description to reflect your expectations. I told them: "A good place to start is to analyze the job as it exists today. Ask yourself what the work outcomes and descriptions of the tasks to achieve the outcomes are. Next update it for what you would like job to look like. Consider your practice plans, are you expanding or contracting specific practice areas?"
Lisa Dawson, having practiced as a small firm administrator for over 20 years, suggests that your job description should include:
For more, read here.
If you have staffing needs, check out our website here. Or connect with me.
Here are the other courses this Fall:
Notable firm management and trust accounting resources and webinars here.