In a hole, don't decorate!

When you bring on a new employee or contractor, preparing them for success is critical. After all, new hires are often nervous about all the new colleagues they’ll meet and the uncertain responsibilities they’ll take on. 

You can help ensure that your new hire assimilates quickly by avoiding these mistakes:

  1. Missing Meetings

Meetings are one of the best ways to communicate with employees. They open opportunities for discussion and bonding that don’t happen over email.

Therefore, avoiding missing meetings with your employees is critical, especially if they’re new. If something comes up that you need to attend, reschedule the appointment for later in the day. 

  1. Not Preparing for Your New Hire’s First Day

Ideally, you’ll have a schedule for your new worker’s first day, and they won’t be languishing with little to do. Start the day with a one-on-one welcome and schedule a group meeting later so they can meet the entire team. 

You’ll probably have a few onboarding tasks that they’ll need to complete, like getting them access to company servers, software, and email. It would help if you listed their initial duties so they know what to expect in the coming days and weeks.

  1. Failing to Provide Answers to a New Hire’s Questions Within 24 Hours

When new hires start, they’re unfamiliar with your processes and need quick answers to their questions to move forward on new tasks. Of course, you’re probably very busy, so answering their inquiries may be challenging, especially if you have a large caseload.

However, it would help if you tried to respond to your new hire’s questions within 24 hours. That way, they’re not stuck on a task for too long and can continue their duties. If you need more time to address their questions, ask another staff member or manager to handle their onboarding and training.

  1. Fostering a Poor Learning Environment

Bringing on a new employee is an exciting time. You’ll breathe new life into your department and hopefully improve productivity among your team. However, new hires often have heightened sensitivity, and they’ll be on the lookout for any red flags with you and your team.

A positive learning environment can positively impact your new hire’s experience. So try to make training enjoyable. Stay positive when talking about other staff members, as that may influence your new hire’s opinion of them. Understand that your new hire may take a few days or weeks to learn their responsibilities. Be cautious about blaming them for early mistakes and avoid talking to current staff about any missteps during their training period.

  1. Failing to Explain “the Why”

An often overlooked element of delegation is sharing why the task for completion matters. Saying something like, “I need this researched for case such & such,” without explaining how the results will serve your end goal is like asking someone to pick up a To Go order under your name at a restaurant and then complaining when it’s all wrong. The typical assumption would be that the restaurant got it right. But haven’t we all received incorrect orders? Did you tell the person picking it up what your order was precisely? Did you mention that you planned on sharing lunch with a coworker? Or that you have a nut allergy? Or that your daughter, a preschooler, was eating with you? If you had, then the person picking it up could have:

  • Asked for additional plates
  • Double-checked to make sure there were no nuts in your Pad Thai
  • Requested a coloring book & crayons with the order

So when you bring on a new employee, it’s critical to clarify the reasons for their tasks and how they impact you and others in the law firm. That way, they understand the importance of their work and know how their mistakes can affect your clients and team.

  1. Micromanaging

When you’ve built your law firm from the ground up, it’s hard to hand over tasks to new team members. You’re used to handling everything, and you may fear that if you let go of your work, it will lead to mistakes that can hurt your firm.

However, micromanaging your staff is inefficient and only damages relationships with your team members. If sharing your work is hard for you, start with smaller tasks. You’ll gradually build a trusting relationship as you see your staff excel. Over time, you’ll learn to release more responsibilities and feel assured they’ll handle them properly.

  1. Setting Unreasonable Expectations

Your latest employee needs to learn about your team or clients, and they’ll likely need some time to acclimate themselves to your firm’s procedures. While you want them to scale up their capabilities quickly, be careful about setting the bar too high. 

A good rule of thumb is to communicate the result you are looking for on a particular task, explain your processes, and then let them complete it. As they grow more comfortable with your team and your operations, you can increase the difficulty and scope of their responsibilities. 

  1. Tolerating Current Staff Resentment

Occasionally, you’ll hire a new paralegal or executive assistant perfect for a new role but raise the ire of existing employees who want the position. Staff resentment is a tricky problem to overcome, especially if you like the worker who feels resentful but knows they didn’t have what it would take to handle the job you hired someone else for.

If you notice resentment, it’s best to address it privately – but head-on. Ask open-ended questions to get to the authentic source of the friction you are picking up on. Then, repeat it back to ensure you understand their position correctly and so that they feel heard. Assure the person that you value their contributions (if you actually do) and provide specifics. If, at that point, you need to get back to them to continue the discussion after you’ve given their comments thought, that’s fine and much preferred to putting them down, getting defensive, or answering sarcastically. When you return to the conversation, ensure they have your undivided attention and be decisive on the path forward. Employees respect leaders who occasionally admit mistakes but don’t dodge hard conversations or challenges.

  1. Worrying the New Hire Will Be a Disappointment

If you’ve had difficulty filling your open role, you may worry that the new person will be another disappointment. Those feelings are natural, especially if you’ve spent time training several individuals who didn’t work out. However, try to look on the bright side and retain the optimistic outlook that the new hire will be the perfect fit for the job.

  1. Failing to Use Current Technology

Law firms commonly stick with familiar processes rather than adopting new technology. After all, updating your software and moving to a new system is time-consuming and often comes with a learning curve. Rather than make adjustments, you’ll save time and additional expenses by sticking with software you know.

However, law firms can benefit from new systems and software that expedite the client intake process and make managing your caseload a breeze. While you may be nervous about switching, find out what’s available and how it can benefit your new hires and yourself.

Your New Hires Can Benefit Your Law Firm

While bringing on a new worker is time-consuming, you’ll see greater productivity and a smoother workflow if done with intention. Keeping fear in check and not allowing it to stain your assessment of a new employee’s progress is essential for onboarding success. Improve the experience by avoiding these ten mistakes. Your new hires (and your existing staff) will appreciate your efforts. 

Find out how Woven Legal’s virtual legal professionals can benefit your firm. Contact us today to schedule a discovery call!



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