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How to Manage that Challenging Manager in Your Law Firm

Posted by: Lynn Sedgwick

In a perfect world, every legal professional would have a great manager, dedicated to helping them pursue their career plans and overcoming business challenges. Unfortunately, while there are some fantastic and supportive managers out there, there are some individuals that can only be described as terrible.

It’s a well-documented fact that the key reason employees leave organisations is because of a challenging relationship with their first line manager, rather than their level of compensation or the culture of the organisation as a whole.

I am sure many of you reading this post will have experienced your own terrible boss from hell. No doubt it made it harder to thrive within the organisation. If you've ever had an ineffective manager before, then you'll know how frequent scrutiny or disapproval can damage your confidence.

Whether the person you work for is a micromanager or simply doesn't do enough to support you, it's important that you know how to make the most of any situation.

Seek First To Understand

Remember, it's not the easiest job in the world to manage a team or lead a company, and your manager will be under a great deal of pressure to keep the business running smoothly.

In Stephen Covey's book "7 Habits of Highly Effective People", he suggests that one of the most important things a successful employee can do is "seek first to understand, before being understood."

Let’s say you have arrived late for work on a number of occasions during the week because of roadworks and your manager is annoyed and frustrated.

Instead of expecting them to understand that you were late to work because of the new road works; look at it from their perspective. If you know that traffic is now a challenge, it’s reasonable that you take responsibility and leave the house earlier rather than getting annoyed that your manager is frustrated at your behaviour.

Putting yourself in someone else's shoes can and will save you a lot of heartache.

Identify Their Triggers

If the problem you have with your manager is that they're frequently criticising your work, or as we like to call it ‘giving you developmental feedback’, then work out what is triggering their behaviour?

Perhaps you aren’t following a specific process that is important?

Being open to feedback from a boss is a great way to set the foundations for a stronger relationship and overcoming any personal hurdles that might be holding you back from success. 

Prove Yourself

A micro-managing boss can be the most difficult to deal with. If someone frequently hovers over your shoulder, it can feel as though you have no room for creativity or expansion. A good way to reduce micromanagement is to conduct an audit of your work and skills.

Think about how you can improve your performance in the role so that your manager has nothing to complain about. A friend of mine says “every day is a school day Lynn”. A learning mindset will help you excel and stand out to your manager. Pretty soon you’ll find you are respected, and their micromanaging behaviour becomes a thing of the past.

Become Indispensable

Becoming an incredible employee is a great way to improve the relationship between you and your manager. If your manager often overlooks you, then making sure that you have the right skills to improve profitability for the business will certainly make you stand out to your boss in the right way; trust me, managers are always looking for employees that add value.

And If All Else Fails?

An ineffective boss doesn't have to be harsh or insensitive. Some employees can struggle to perform well under a manager that simply doesn't deliver frequent feedback or support to their staff. If your manager, despite all your best efforts isn’t helping your legal career or valuing your contribution It might be time to reconsider your career. First of all, read our comprehensive post on the subject here. Then once you have a plan in place get in contact with us here, and let's have a conversation.


Thanks

Lynn

 

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals and legal IT personnel to practice managers.

If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help.
Call us on 01772 259 121 or
email us here.

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year download our latest guide here.

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