The Importance of Employee Reviews

Having employees assumes the daunting task of employee reviews. Some employers dread giving their employees reviews. But employee reviews are not entirely a bad thing. It’s a time to assess performance goals, address problems, and set your employees up for success in the future.

Giving employees quarterly, semi-annual, or annual reviews can benefit not only the employee, but your company as a whole. “Employee reviews are a process that should happen all year long,” says Paul Falcone, author of 2600 Phrases for Effective Performance Reviews. “How much do you value me as an employee if out of the 2,080 hours I work, and—Lord knows it’s more than that—you only give me one review? It’s just not enough.”

This performance review should be a mutual sharing of perceptions regarding the employee’s accomplishments as well as areas that can be improved upon. The employer should provide the employee with a copy of the review form ahead of time to enable them to read it and reflect on it. Have the employee complete the form prior to the review to determine where the employee sees their productivity and success in the company. Encourage them to emphasize areas both in which they did well and areas in which they need further growth and development.

Some may view reviews as a time when the employer informs the employee of everything that they are doing wrong. Quite the contrary. This can be a time where the employer informs the employee of everything that they are doing right. It can be a time of praise for all of the hard work and effort that the employee has put forth in the company. It can also be a time to let the employee know where they need room for improvement. Constructive criticism, if done correctly can be a positive influence on anyone. This can be a time to make the employee aware of the things that they may have not known that they needed improvement on. Having this conversation and the positive feedback will better the overall productivity of the employee, and thus have a greater effect on the company. Both the employer and employee must agree on future goals that will lead to their success, along with setting milestones during the coming year to measure accomplishments.

Having documented employee reviews can also be a benefit to the company in the instance where they need to terminate the employee. Having documented proof that the employer discussed where the employee was lacking in performance and needed to make improvements will be essential if the employee decides to challenge the termination. The employer can refer back to these documents as justification for the termination of the employee.


How to Handle Difficult Clients

Every attorney knows that with good clients, comes the bad ones. Difficult clients should be expected with any business. Obtaining and maintaining clients is an essential part of having a successful firm. The clients are what drive the firm to become more successful. Clients seek out the assistance of attorneys because they themselves do not possess the knowledge and understanding of the law to be able to represent themselves in a civil or criminal matter. Clients instill their trust and confidence in their attorney, and are usually happy with the job that they have done for them. Not all clients feel this way….

When your firm has a disgruntled client, damage control must be done immediately in order contain the problem before it gets worse.

Manage expectations from the beginning

Clients may sometimes have the expectation that attorneys are a cure all for their problems. When the solution or lack thereof does not go in their favor, they may place the blame on the attorney. Difficult clients are sometimes unwilling to make decisions about their legal issues and want the lawyer to do it for them. The attorney’s role is to help the client understand their options and make informed decisions. Your firm should manage the expectations of each and every one of your clients. The attorney handling the matter should give the client realistic expectations of what can happen. Promising too much in the beginning and under delivering in the end can cause problems with the attorney/client relationship.

The client should be made aware of all of the possibilities that could arise from the situation. They should know that past success is not a guarantee of future success. Giving the client the worst case scenario can be the best option. This way, the client will not be blindsided in the end, and wonder why you did not warn them that this could happen. Difficult clients are likely to be unhappy about fees, so you need to establish mutual expectations concerning billing and payment procedures for your services. It’s especially important to bill clients with high service expectations frequently and regularly, and to provide as much detail as possible, so they can understand the cost of those expectations.

Document Everything

Document everything you possibly can, including phone calls, voice-mail messages and e-mail messages. Confirm the client’s instructions to you in writing, and confirm your instructions to the client in writing. Include the possible consequences of various courses of action the client may be considering. These messages and instructions should be saved as part of the permanent record on file. This should be done for all clients that you represent, but it’s especially important for difficult clients. When clients are unhappy, they will blame the attorney more often and with more damaging consequences than other clients.

They do not get along with your staff

When your clients do not get along with your staff, that can cause tension in the relationship. Personalities may differ and when one person is thought to be unreasonable or not being attentive enough to the other’s needs, this can cause an undue hardship in the working relationship. To ease the tension between the client and a particular staff member, have someone else in the firm work directly with the client so that they do not have to interact with the person that they do not get along with. When hiring staff for your firm, it is important to choose someone who not only has the experience and knowledge in the field, but someone who is personable that is able to get along and work with every type of client that you may have. Your staff is an important part of your organization and they build and represent the culture and reputation of your firm. The staff should be able to identify difficult clients.  Being able to identify difficult clients and behaving in a way that minimizes those risks should be priority for the staff. They should be in the habit of documenting contacts, instructions or information regarding that particular client. Make sure they deal with these types of clients with extra care, understanding, and patience.



Can Telecommuting Benefit Your Business?

Telecommuting or working from home can be an added benefit to your business. This will allow your employees to work from home 1 or more days a week. Offering telecommuting as an option for your employees can allow your employees to be more productive on an overall basis. Studies have shown that telecommuters are more productive than their office-bound colleagues. Demanding and overwhelming jobs can add undo stress onto anyone.  Employees who telecommute, essentially use less sick time, there’s less tardiness, and they have improved morale. Work life balance is something that is very important to today’s working class. Having that balance can make a difference in the overall performance of an employee. Happy employees are productive employees. This option can also allow you to choose from a wider pool of candidates to become a part of your team because they are not geographically limited.

There are many added benefits to offering telecommuting as an option. An overall increase in productivity has been a result of employees being able to work from home. People who work in high stress environments for 8 hours or more a day deem to eventually become burned out unproductive. Some people even take their work home after they have finished their shift. This can interfere with their demands at home and force them even further into stress.  Having the flexibility to work from home can alleviate pressure and stress from working in the office. Many telecommuters get their work done in less time which is good for them as well as the company.

The other benefit to telecommuting is saving your business money. The main savings are in the reduced cost of office overhead including the costs of parking, gas and electric, office supplies as well as office space. Companies adopting telecommute as an option achieve significant reductions in total office occupancy. Today’s technology makes it easier for work to get accomplished even when no one is physically in the office.

Working remotely can be accomplished by having your company’s computer infrastructure set up in such a way that it will allow the telecommute employees access to documents and systems that they would normally have access to in the office, from home on their computer or laptop. Your telecommuters need access to internal documents as well as their company e-mail to do their job effectively. Also, if the telecommuter is involved in a team project, make sure there are project checklists and other resources available to ensure that they are still able to contribute and stay connected to other team members.