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Keep Your Employees Happy and You’ll Keep Your Employees

High employee turnover is expensive. It costs money, time, and productivity – and it lowers morale. So it’s no surprise that today’s most innovative employers are investing as much as they can in employee retention.

As with any investment, however, you want a solid return. So knowing how to invest matters.

Most employers don’t have the resources, financial or physical, to install Olympic-sized pools, indoor rainforests, or NBA-regulation-sized basketball courts to keep their employees engaged and happy. The good news is they don’t have to.

Employers can ensure that team members feel valued and engaged by providing things like challenging work, a space conducive to productivity and efficiency, and a flexible approach to work-life balance.

Some examples:

  • Give team members the kind of space they need to do their best work. Provide those that need it a quiet place to focus and concentrate, while also offering open work spaces that enable collaboration and communication when necessary.
  • Offer competitive benefits like health insurance, life insurance, and a retirement-savings plan if you can.
  • Be flexible where possible in scheduling and PTO policies. Employees appreciate being trusted to know the best way for them to balance work and family/non-work commitments.
  • Delegate real responsibilities to your team members. We all have to do mundane tasks here and there, but those should be few and far between. Employees are happier when they feel that they are contributing value and are given autonomy.
  • Keep your employees in the loop. Certainly some business dealings require confidentiality, but where you can, share your big-picture mission with your team – and, as important, the way in which each member’s role contributes to the success of that mission.
  • Really listen to your employees. Encourage open communication with team leaders as to the good and bad of your company culture, specific workloads, or overall company direction.
  • Offer seemingly small perks, like a high-end coffee maker in the break room, free bagels or sandwiches on Fridays, or discounted gym memberships nearby. Little things that help employees feel appreciated go a long way.
  • And last, but certainly not least, thank employees for a job well done. This often gets lost in the shuffle. The expectation is that employees should do their jobs because they are being paid to. While that may be true, appreciating good work costs nothing yet is priceless in keeping employees happy.

You know your employees. Perhaps a foosball table in the breakroom will go over better than something like complimentary dry-cleaning delivery services. The point is that employee retention doesn’t have to drain your resources. If you focus your investment in your employees in a manner that keeps them feeling valued and engaged, it will be an investment well made.

We invite you to consider all the options available to you for boosting employee retention. Contact Loeb Leadership Development Group to learn more!

What No One Tells You About Being a Manager

Many professionals aspire to attain management level roles. In order to perform at a high level, it requires commitment, dedication, and the skill to build a cohesive team. No matter how you prepare to assume this position, there are inevitably some surprises that await you. Simply put, you don’t really know what it’s like to manage other employees until you do it.

Being an effective manager requires great effort, to not only achieve the goals of the organization, but also to build the relationships necessary to oversee a high functioning team. With that said, there are a few things to keep in mind when meeting the challenges of the position.

You’ll Be in the Spotlight

Your actions, and the way you conduct yourself in the workplace is always noticed by the other employees. You’ll be their example—so make sure you are modeling the behavior you expect from your team.

To that end, candor and communication are key. For example, if you need to leave work early or take a day off, you should explain to your team the reasons why you need to do so. So to, when one of your team members needs time off, they should feel comfortable approaching you and being forthright about their personal circumstances. If you leave this unexplained, the other employees may think you’re just leaving early for no reason, and they may believe that you lack the commitment the position holds.

It’s Easy to Misappropriate Your Time

When you are supervising employees with different skill levels, it is easy to misappropriate your time and not allocate your resources effectively. Just because an employee is productive and a high performer, it doesn’t mean that they don’t need guidance and feedback from a supervisor. Be mindful of spending too many resources on employees not meeting expectations, and who may not be right for the position.

It is common for managers to spend too much time with underperforming employees, at the expense of the other team members. One thing you should do early on is assess why these employees are falling behind. If it’s a lack of training, that’s something you can address proactively. If it’s that the team member is in the wrong role, that may also be an adjustment you can make. And if it’s a matter of cultural fit, you can decide whether coaching or termination is appropriate.

The bottom line is, managers need to appropriate their time effectively.

You’ll Be the Go-Between

Most of the time, the manager ends up becoming a liaison of sorts between employees and the corporate leadership team. It is of utmost importance that the manager fully understands the concerns of the employees, so they can be properly communicated and addressed.

There are potential challenges of being a liaison, as managers can often misconstrue the concerns of their team, and can in some cases, create conflict and confusion. It can also be a challenge to translate the company’s vision and goals, if they are not clear.

At the same time, your team will look to you for direction and answers regarding company policies and procedures, so it is helpful to be well versed, or know who to turn to in order to find the answers to questions asked.

As you prepare to become manager, make sure you are comfortable being a go-between.

Learn More About the Manager’s Role

As you seek to become a team leader, an executive coach can help you clarify expectations and develop the appropriate skills. We invite you to learn more about this process. Reach out to Loeb Leadership Development Group today!

An Executive’s Approach to Building an Effective Leadership Team

One of the hallmarks of a great leader is to identify the leadership potential in those around them, nurturing their people management skills and positioning them for continued success and development.  To effectively grow a firm or business, leadership is one of the most important driving forces, as it can inspire and motivate a workforce, and conversely, poor leadership can demoralize employees and encourage them to seek other opportunities.

Whether you’re hiring from the inside or casting a wider net, it is important to show care in your recruitment efforts. In this post, we have highlighted five skills you should be looking for as you build out your leadership team.

The Characteristics of Effective Leaders

Trust. The first trait you should look for in potential leaders is their ability to establish trust. Leaders do this by modeling the behavior they expect of others and holding themselves accountable to nurture a high trust culture.  Successful leaders establish trust by individually engaging members of their team, to build relationships both personally and professionally.

Vision. Seek out a candidate who can communicate the vision of your company—condensing it into a clear and succinct message, and getting other people excited about it. In order to achieve an effective message, communication needs to be authentic and sincere. It should also include input from the shareholders and stakeholders of the organization to solidify buy-in.

Commitment. There is a saying — Commitment is the glue that bonds you to your goals. Leaders who are driven by achieving goals tend to play a role in motivating and inspiring those around them.  Look for leaders who view their role as being part of something greater than themselves and demonstrate follow through.

Organization. Any department leader or division chair you hire is going to provide employees with a roadmap, showing both short-term and long-term goals and clarifying key processes. That’s going to require a high level of organization. Look for leaders who can take complex concepts, ideas, and methodologies and break them down into digestible and easily understood processes or actions.

Communication. This is arguably the most important skill a leader can have, so make sure you emphasize this for any leadership position. A good leader excels in both written and verbal communication and can deliver a message with key takeaways and no confusion. Additionally, leaders in a high trust culture encourage the sharing of constructive feedback – so it is important to identify a leader that has the capacity to foster that environment.

These are some of the touchstones to keep in mind as you look for employees with the potential to lead—and remember: Those who show potential may still need development. To learn more about nurturing new and effective leadership in your company, contact Loeb Leadership Development Group today.

How to be Mindful When Engaging a Potential Mentor

Mentorship can be a rewarding experience for mentor and mentee alike. In today’s corporate environment, the mentoring process offers an exchange of knowledge and experience for both participants and has proven to be beneficial for career advancement. However, the process is also a real commitment, that requires time, patience, and dedication.

As with any task or goal that is worthwhile, obtaining a mentor requires commitment and a growth mindset. It is important to be self-aware and be open to an honest and introspective dialogue. The benefits can be limitless. The first person you ask may not be available to mentor you, but if you continue to search for a mentor that aligns with your goals, you will eventually find one that says yes.

Maybe the mentor you seek is a more senior attorney who works at your law firm, or a seasoned professional who you met at a networking event or industry conference. Before you approach this individual and ask them to take you under their wing, make sure you have a good sense of how to ask—laying bare your expectations, and acknowledging the commitment you’re asking this individual to make on your behalf.

It Starts with Gratitude

Once you make some preliminary connection with your potential mentor, send an email asking them if they are willing to meet with you. Be clear about your intentions entering into this relationship.

It’s important that this initial message be grounded in a grateful attitude. You’re asking them for an investment of their time, and you shouldn’t act entitled to it. Instead, make it clear that you’re thankful for whatever time they can offer you.

On a related note: Be respectful and aware that your mentor has a lot of demands on their time already, whether professionally or personally. Avoid hasty follow-up emails if they don’t respond right away.

Also, when you email them, it’s okay to mention some of the reasons you think they’d be a good mentor, and to note your admiration of them—but don’t cross the line into “buttering them up.” Try to avoid listing all the bullet points from their resume in an effort to flatter.

In the Initial Meeting

When you meet with your mentor for the first time, you should focus on establishing a personal rapport and get to know each other’s backgrounds. Finding common interests can be beneficial to the mentor/mentee relationship. Next, create a foundation for communication that helps facilitate a free flow of thoughts and ideas, and establish a basis for trust and confidentiality.

Here are some additional tips for continued communication with your mentor:

  • Be clear about what it is you’re looking for; guidance, coaching or to shadow them at their job.
  • Ask your mentor how he or she would like to communicate; by phone, email, Skype, or in person?
  • Commit to a regular schedule of meetings. Again, be mindful of your mentor’s time, but do try to set up a consistent meeting time—once a week, once a month, or whatever other rhythm you can agree on.
  • Be willing to put in some work. Ask your mentor if they have any “homework” you should do between now and your next meeting—and whatever it is, take it seriously!
  • Finally, remember that a potential mentor may simply not have the hours in the day to take you on right now, and this probably isn’t anything personal. Be gracious if they respectfully decline your request.

Identifying an individual who exemplifies a similar vision of success, and who you feel offers the experience and wisdom that you want to align yourself with, is worth the risk of asking. Use these tips to initiate a mentor/mentee relationship that will begin your journey.

To learn more about the value of workplace coaching and mentorship, contact the Loeb Leadership Development Group team today.

Is Your Law Firm One Bus Hit Away from Chaos? The Urgency of Succession Planning

By:  Natalie Loeb, Gordon Loeb & David B. Sarnoff, Esq.

Succession planning in the corporate world is vital to the survival of the entity beyond the involvement of its founders – does your firm have a plan for future leadership? For companies that sell products, proprietary programs and services, succession of leadership typically doesn’t affect the quality of the product or service.  However, law firms and other professional service companies can be greatly impacted by the death or departure of a highly skilled practitioner or rainmaker.   Many law firms are created by individuals who either have an expertise in a specific practice area and/or have established relationships that produce revenues to sustain the ongoing operation of the firm.  A significant challenge facing law firms of all sizes, is how to establish a stable business model that can survive and withstand changes in key personnel.

First, let’s start with the definition of “succession planning:”

“Identification and development of potential successors for key positions in an organization, through a systematic evaluation process and training. Unlike replacement planning (which grades an individual solely on the basis of his or her past performance) succession planning is largely predictive in judging an individual for a position he or she might never have been in.”[1] 

The goal of any succession plan should be to elevate the most qualified individuals who can maintain and improve the firm’s production, culture and leadership.  Succession planning is not an easy undertaking and requires strong leadership, a supportive culture, humility, objectivity and the absence of outsized egos.  Given the fact that many law firms are controlled by the individuals who produce the most revenue, or their closely associated allies, succession planning can present difficult challenges to initiating the planning process.

According to David Robert, a leading Organizational Development Professional who has substantial experience working with law firms, “Effective succession planning is guided by three factors: (1) What role(s) are you focusing on, (2) how will you objectively evaluate successor readiness, and (3) how will you engage and develop your successors prior to their transition into the new role?”  In addressing the first question, the management of a law firm must identify the leadership positions of the firm that need to be staffed and sustained in order to successfully run the business of the firm.  Succession planning does not only apply to the attorney side of the firm, it also applies to business services positions such as the firm’s COO and CHRO.

“Successor readiness,” is a key element to planning for the future.  To properly evaluate an individual’s practical legal skills, leadership abilities and assess intangibles such as emotional intelligence (“EI”) requires an objective eye.  Often, rivalries, firm politics and a toxic culture can derail the succession planning process.  In many cases, firms will engage external consultants such as OD professionals and executive coaches to assist with the design and implementation of the planning process. These professionals are generally certified in personality, leadership and values assessments, to assist in designing and outlining the necessary training to prepare future leadership.

Once you have the right pieces in place to enact a plan, it is critical to have a fair process established to encourage participation from firm stakeholders.  As the succession planning team identifies possible successors, they must agree on how to approach that individual about being considered for a leadership role and whether that person is interested in being considered for this future role.  Assuming they are, the planning team should explain the purpose of the succession plan, what the firm’s process would be and the time frame in which it will be carried out.  There should be complete transparency about the process so that there are no misunderstandings or unintended surprises during the process.  This is not an easy undertaking, especially when multiple people are being considered for the position.  Obviously, personal feelings, professional relationships, egos and competition impact the process.

It is likely that a law firm management team that initiates a succession planning program has a supportive firm culture.  However, a crucial question that David Robert raises is, “How does a firm’s culture influence the likelihood of a successful succession planning process?”  He continues, “for succession planning to ignite engagement and motivation across a firm, the process must be transparent, fair and objective. As soon as a partner bypasses the formal process and goes all in to advocate for a sacred cow, the process immediately loses credibility and could adversely impact engagement.”

Many law firms have stood the test of time and have existed and thrived for decades.  However, there are law firms, including several that were once ranked in the AmLaw 200 that no longer exist because of significant lateral departures, planned retirements or turmoil that ultimately brought an end to the firm.

There are many factors that can contribute to the demise of a law firm.  However, with a transparent, authentic and thoughtful succession planning process, a firm can harness significant buy-in from its stakeholders and rally support for the leaders that are selected to assume a higher-level role at an agreed upon time.  The process also allows for the individuals up for consideration to receive high caliber coaching, training and development to be equipped for the challenge.  The succession planning process positions new leaders to establish themselves and works to ensure the survival and vitality of the firm.

 

INFORMATION ON THE AUTHORS:

NATALIE LOEB is the Founder of Loeb Leadership

Development Group and an Executive Coach.

She can be contacted at natalie@loebleadership.com,

866-987-4111, or www.loebleadership.com.

 

GORDON LOEB is the COO of Loeb Leadership Development

Group and an Executive Coach.

He can be contacted at gordon@loebleadership.com,

866-987-4111, or www.loebleadership.com.

 

DAVID B. SARNOFF, ESQ., is the Principal of Sarnoff Group

LLC, an Executive Coach and a consultant to Loeb

Leadership Development Group.

He can be contacted at david@sarnoffgroup.com,

646-665-4899 or www.sarnoffgroup.com, and

dsarnoff@loebleadership.com, 866-987-4111, or

www.loebleadership.com.

 

[1] Business Dictionary, www.businessdictionary.com

Recognizing the Symptoms of Burnout

As a leader, one of the most important things you can do for your team is provide them with a work environment where burnout is taken seriously—and where appropriate, preemptive measures are in place to avoid it.

A good starting point is to simply recognize the signs of burnout. Burnout is not just a feeling of overwhelming stress; that’s just the new norm. Burnout is something more pervasive and longer lasting.

Do You Know the Signs of Burnout?

It manifests in different ways for different people—but there are a few signs and symptoms of burnout that are fairly common.

  1. Exhaustion. Again, it’s important to make a distinction: Everyone experiences fatigue at some time during their work week. It is when you observe continued physical, mental, or emotional exhaustion, that there may be a sign of burnout.
  2. Lack of motivation. The employee who’s struggling with burnout probably won’t have much pep in their step; they may have a hard time summoning the enthusiasm to do anything more than the bare minimum. When employees are simply coasting through their work, it’s often burnout-related.
  3. Irritability.Burnout makes every little problem or inconvenience seem more frustrating. Those with irritability can be categorized as bitter or intolerant and may sometimes have a short fuse – they may even snap at the people around them.
  4. Cognitive problems. Burnout saps mental ability and can manifest as a slip in work performance—poor quality, missed deadlines, or more frequent mistakes are clear signs there is an issue.
  5. Unhealthy coping methods. Those who are dealing with burnout may try to self-medicate, which can look like smoking, drinking, eating too much junk food, or staying up late watching TV or playing games instead of getting sufficient rest.
  6. Preoccupation. Finally, an insidious form of burnout is being preoccupied with work—even when you’re not at work. Employees who descend into a “workaholic” mindset, neglecting work-life balance, may have burnout to blame for it.

Avoid Burnout. It Starts with Awareness

Typically, burnout isn’t something that affects just one employee. It’s usually cultural and systemic—so if you have one employee exhibiting these signs, it’s worth gauging whether others might be struggling in similar ways.

Be ready to recognize what burnout looks like—and if you have employees who struggle with it, help them seek the assistance they need. Consider evaluating your workplace culture, as burnout can be associated with organizational dysfunction!

There are many effective methods to alleviate the symptoms of burnout and provide a productive work culture. Reach out to Loeb Leadership Development Group to learn more.

How to Make Your Meetings More Effective

The phrase “necessary evil” is overused, but for many of us, there is no better way to describe workplace meetings. Although intended to produce results, poorly structured or misguided meetings can be ineffective and a waste of precious time.

With “Collaboration” at the top of mind at many firms, it is more important than ever to structure meetings and provide the ground rules to be more productive. Effective meetings can produce results and positive takeaways, encouraging further collaboration amongst team members.

How to Keep Your Meetings Productive

Your allocation of time and resources may vary, depending on the size and nature of your team, but some general guidelines are as follows:

  1. Clarify who’s directing the meeting. It’s always best to have one person who is leading the meeting and who can clarify for the rest of the group what the focus of the meeting is. Be clear from the outset who’s directing, and what he or she hopes to achieve.
  2. Set clear start and end times. When the meeting is first scheduled, always be clear about when it starts and when it ends and stick with it! If there is still unfinished business at the meeting’s end, either schedule a follow-up or encourage participants to work things out privately.
  3. Distribute materials in advance. You don’t want to waste valuable meeting time reviewing data together, so instead distribute stats and reports in advance—allowing participants to get up to speed and arrive at the meeting ready for discussion.
  4. Leave devices outside. This one is tough to implement, and at some companies may be impossible—but if you can encourage participants to leave their phones and tablets in their offices, you can maximize mindful engagement and get rid of needless distractions.
  5. Stick to the meeting agenda. Have a written structure to your meeting—a list of topics and decisions that need to be addressed —and stick with them. If talks drift into unrelated matters, the meeting leader’s job is to refocus the group.
  6. Abide by the two-minute rule. A good way to ensure everyone has their say: Allow each participant to have a full two minutes to share their thoughts—without anyone else jumping in with interruptions.
  7. Review action items. At the end of the meeting, clarify the next steps meeting participants need to take—including the action plan for all decisions made together as a group.

Meetings, if not structured effectively, can be wasteful—but by applying these strategies, you are more likely to have a productive meeting.

Learn more about the best ways of running efficient, effective meetings by reaching out to the executive coaching team at Loeb Leadership Development Group.

Develop the Right Morning Routines

Being productive means making every minute count. One of the best ways you can do that is to start each morning right, laying the foundation for energy, focus, and savvy time management all day long.

That’s why many of the most productive leaders have morning routines in place—structures and rituals that allow them to get things accomplished before other people even get out of bed!

There’s no one “right” routine, but there are some basic guidelines and suggestions you can consider.

Formulating Your Morning Routine

Manage your creative energy. One of the first things you should do is take a self-inventory: When are you most energized? When are you most focused and creative? If you tend to be more creative in the morning (as many of us are), be intentional about blocking off that time on your schedule, using it to get creative work done. Schedule meetings, phone calls, and administrative tasks for later in the day, when that creative energy starts to wane.

Prepare for the next day. Another important step is to take the last 10 minutes of each work day to prepare for the next morning. Draft a to-do list, and lay out any papers or materials you’ll need. Be ready to hit the ground running as soon as you get into work.

Give yourself a break from email. This one is hard to do, but it’s worth it. Emails (and social media messages) can drain your energy, overwhelm you, or simply distract you—so put them off for a few hours until you get some work done. Turn off your notifications. Save email until noon if at all possible.

Take care of your body and mind. Always leave room in the morning for the basics of good health—eating a nutritious breakfast and taking a few minutes for physical activity. Yes, this may mean waking up a little earlier, or getting to work a little later—but it will pay off in the form of energy throughout the day, allowing you to get a lot more accomplished.

Be positive. Another thing to consider is spending a few minutes each morning on something that brings you joy—allowing you to start the day with a positive outlook. This can yield more patience, more focus, and heightened problem-solving abilities. Consider just a few minutes each morning meditating, doing yoga, reading a good book, or listening to music that you like—whatever gets you into your “happy place.”

Good Mornings Yield Good Days

Of course, not every morning is going to go smoothly. Things happen, and fires need to be put out. But it’s worth having a basic routine in place so that you know what a productive morning looks like, and can aim for it whenever possible. Ultimately, building these disciplines can help you get a lot more done, all day long.

Another way to get more accomplished? Work with an executive coach. We’d love to consult with you and help you reach your professional goals more efficiently. Contact Loeb Leadership Development Group to learn more.

Advancing Your Career for Attorneys

It is important to distinguish yourself among colleagues in your firm, especially for attorneys seeking to advance their careers.  Given the competitive nature of the industry, building networks and collaborating is part of the recipe to advance within your organization, but is there more?

As the legal industry continues to transform at a rapid rate, now more than ever, attorneys need to stretch themselves to advance in their career. Here are a few suggestions to help establish your path to success.

Make Plans

First and foremost, it is important to have a master plan. Create a timeline for career benchmarks and set realistic timelines to monitor your progress. Your plan may include:

  • Short-term goals (one to two years)
  • Medium-term goals (three to five years)
  • Long-term goals (10+ years)

Some short-term goals may include establishing relationships with at least three to five senior associates or partners within your firm. Reach outside your firm by participating in industry networking opportunities.  Take initiative to learn new skills and programs; asking questions is a good thing. Small steps of engagement can provide the confidence and familiarity to build the required skills for higher level assignments.

Medium-term goals can include client development and networking, building leadership skills by mentoring a junior associate, or take initiative and discuss with the partners opportunities to engage in higher level work within your practice area.

When designing your long-term goals, the seminal question that needs to be asked is what is the path to partnership, and is that a path I want to travel? It is not uncommon during the course of your career to consider lateral opportunities, in house positions or alternative career paths within your firm.

Planning your career requires ongoing monitoring of your progress and reevaluating your goals. It is not meant to be a blueprint you create and set aside. You can and should revise it as needed, consulting it frequently but tweaking it as your interests change. It is not meant to be prescriptive, rather it should provide you with some basic sense of purpose.

Get a Mentor

Having a mentor who can guide you along your career path is an invaluable relationship. Someone who has been through similar challenges, and who has experienced the highs and lows of practicing law can provide relevant career advice.

It’s important to find someone who can help you develop your legal skills, and help you navigate political and institutional hurdles. It may take some effort in identifying the ideal mentor, but don’t settle for someone who may not be the right fit. A good mentor can provide good insight and perspective on the internal dynamics within a firm and can anticipate potential blind spots.

Seek Opportunities

Ultimately, promotions aren’t going to be given to you; they must be earned. That may require volunteering for additional responsibilities and seeking leadership opportunities within and outside your firm.

Meet People

The way to stand out and brand yourself is by meeting people. Get to know the individuals in your office. Take them up on invitations to socialize during non-working hours. Sign up for professional conferences and networking events, and become involved in local legal organizations—often, that’s the best way to build out your professional network.

Hire a Coach

Coaching is a great way to raise your self-awareness, focus on emotional intelligence, prioritize goals and challenges, and elevate your leadership skills. With the guidance of an executive coach, you can develop your interpersonal strengths to complement your already established intellectual expertise.  At Loeb Leadership Development Group, our coaching services are designed for attorneys and legal industry professionals who are ready to be the best they can be. Let’s talk today about your goals; reach out to Loeb now!

 

Handling Coworkers Who Don’t Pull Their Weight

In a perfect workplace, every team member is equally committed to collaborating, achieving shared goals, and moving the company forward. But how many firms attain that level of excellence? Does the perfect workplace exist?

In many work environments, there are individuals who don’t pull their weight, lack knowledge of processes and/or procedures, or who are just not as industrious as the rest of the team. This can cause tension, especially among those who are dedicated and feel like they are going above and beyond. The question is, how can you positively engage with those coworkers who aren’t pulling their weight, and encourage them to be more productive?

What Not to Do

Before we get to our recommendations, let’s focus on the things you shouldn’t do.

First, don’t vent your frustrations to other coworkers. While it’s only natural to want to express how you feel to someone who understands your predicament, venting to colleagues is simply not productive. It may lead to further anger or frustration, may create a divide amongst your team, and may peg you as the office gossiper.

Second, don’t go directly to your boss without trying to work the matter out with your co-worker or team. Most bosses prefer that you are part of the solution, and try to work things out on your own whenever possible. Skipping this step, and jumping straight to “tattling,” can be counterproductive, as it may make you seem unable to work through a difficult matter.

Third, don’t feel like you always have to pick up the slack. Doing someone else’s job for them doesn’t help your co-worker, may foster further anger and resentment, and may alienate you from your colleagues. Assuming additional responsibilities may negatively impact your ability to do your job.

Positive Ways to Help Your Coworker

When a coworker isn’t pulling their weight, there may be a good reason. Addressing this head on, and in a positive manner, can be the most effective way to understand your coworkers perspective.

First, gently mention to your co-worker that they seem distracted. Being a “friend” can create a bond with your coworker, and can provide the opportunity for healthy conversation.

Second, ask if there is any assistance they need with processes or procedures. It could be that their training was not as robust, and that their unfamiliarity of the firm’s resources are holding them back.  Sometimes “jumpstarting” your coworker’s productivity can have a positive impact on performance and acknowledgement that they weren’t reaching their potential.

Third, be forthright with your coworker. Share you goals and ask what theirs are.  Perhaps the lack of productivity stems from gaps or blind spots that they need to be coached through.

When engaging your coworker, it’s best to keep track of all your interactions. Make a note of any offers to help them, but also how they reacted. If their lack of engagement or production persists, there may come a time when you do need to refer the matter to your manager, or to HR.  Maintaining thorough documentation can provide a baseline of fact as you seek a possible solution.

The truth is that it’s always frustrating to have a coworker who doesn’t put in their fair share—and yet it’s vital to address the matter without losing your cool. Hopefully, these simple, pragmatic steps can provide you a positive way to handle the issue.

To learn more about how to work well even with challenging colleagues, reach out to us at Loeb Leadership Development.