My turn to ask for help


yesterday was not a good day. Well it started out good, they always do and went down hill from there. At the end of the day, just as I was about to get out of the office, a pleading came in. There were two paralegals left in the office and I asked them both if they could please just do some quick research. (can’t really go into it).

Then it started…. One of them began to complain that she worked through lunch and she should have left the office at 4:30 and the only reason she was still in the office was because she was finishing something up. “why do I always get stuck with things when I should not have been here?”. I could not believe she was actually saying this. I turned around, took the pleading off her desk and told her to turn her computer off and go home. I’ll deal with it tomorrow, I thought. I went to the other one’s desk, mind you this paralegal #2 is completely swamped, and asked her if she could take this pleading and take care of responding to it.

She immediately looked at me and said “this is not fair, she complains and doesn’t have to do the work. When did I ever complain?”. It dawned on me that she was right. She never complains, about anything. This must have felt really unfair to her. I asked her to pack up and go home, it was already late, and told her we would talk the next day (today)

I could not sleep last night. I’ve been up forever. I made a decision to take that pleading and give it back to paralegal #1. It is after all part of her job and she should be handling it. I will have conversations with both of them today and explain that sometimes things aren’t fair but, as much as I hate the saying, it is what it is.

I’ve come to realize that reporting to me is difficult for them. I was “one of them” not long ago. It hasn’t been that long since I was promoted to manager and have had to reassess the relationships I have with each of them. I don’t want to stop being their friend, but ultimately, I am their boss.

Have you been faced with s situation like this? How did you handle it? How do you remain friends with the paralegals you supervise and get them to not cross that invisible line that must be drawn in the sand?

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4 thoughts on “My turn to ask for help

  1. Would either of them responded as they did if you were an attorney? If not then they (especially #1) are taking advantage of your friendship.

  2. It can work if the people are grown-up about it since I’ve been through it on the friend side. Of course, I’m coming in without the background on your situation, but I think it’s a matter of setting the appropriate expections for them. They have to realize your are the boss and if you have to pick between being the boss and being the friend, the boss has to win. You will at times have to tell them what to do. I work someone who will NEVER stay for anything and it is very frustrating. Sometimes people just need to grow up and realize that they’ll have to do things they don’t like at work.

  3. It’s difficult when you’re conflicted with the friendship thing, but at work they need to realize you are also the boss and respect that. If they don’t, then a quiet talk about the relationships and the position you are in might be necessary. If they are a good friend and a good employee – one or both – then they should respect that.

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