We are all humans, so human things will occur. And sometimes our knee-jerk reaction is to run and tell someone. We try to solve it, or get it off of us, right then and there.
For example, we get a client complaint or emergency – when the attorney is getting ready to do a workshop presentation. What do you do? Do you hit the attorney with the problem, right then and there? Preempting the hurried restroom break before the workshop?
There is an ideal time and place for front-stage and back-stage activities. And this is one of those situations where we need to have a back-stage conversation with the attorney AFTER the workshop. Doing anything less is dumping on someone who needs to have a front-stage presence – cool, calm, confident and collected – when they can’t do anything with the information you dumped on them anyway. It sucks the life out of them before the lights are on them and they are presenting.
Throughout our day, things come to us that are time-sensitive and important. But is it necessary to have the conversation right then? A lot of times, when we have the opportunity to have a conversation, we always hit what is most important for US. Here are some questions to ask the mirror when you're wondering, “Can this wait?”
(1) Does the person need to know this information RIGHT NOW?
(2) Does their livelihood depend on the information?
(3) What can they do with the information?
(4) Is their house on fire? Has there been an accident? Are the kids OK? Are you canceling the workshop because of the news/information?
As team, the greatest role we have is to protect our attorney's confidence. It's one of the “Confidence Builders”. Attorneys are in back-to-back meetings most of the time. The weight of the world is on them as entrepreneurs. We see their calendars, and many times they don’t take time to eat – on their best day. And many times our only opportunity is to communicate in a hallway conversation, so we're tempted to lunge at the chance even when the issue is not crucial. If we feel it is very important for the attorney to know, we need to stop and ask “What can they do with this information right now” before we proceed.
Using the “Confidence Builders,” it may not be so important to let them know at that very moment that we got fired by a client. Although this information needs attention, we can talk about it more effectively in our team meeting later, and address “what worked / what didn’t work.” Hold anything that needs to be addressed until our next meeting or daily huddle.
Ultimately, when running a small boutique business it becomes more necessary to protect those responsible for generating revenue. And we do that by protecting their confidence and being mindful of what they are walking into. It’s not always about them protecting us. It can go both ways – which we will blog about later – but we don’t have to be on the front stage as much as they do. It is our job to protect them when they need to be ON.
Molly L. Hall, Co-Founder, Lawyers with Purpose, LLC, and author of Don’t Be a Yes Chick: How to Stop Babysitting Your Boss, Transform Your Job and Work with a Dream Team Without Losing Your Sanity or Your Spirit in the Process.