As lawyers, we are responsible for the culture of our firms and companies. Each person either builds or tears down the culture. Each person adds to or diminishes it. We must be ever vigilant that each person on our team knows, understands and acts according to our values and principles. Ignoring behavior that undercuts your culture either due to lack of diligence, or worse, on purpose, because the culprits are rainmakers or are too big to let fail, will undermine morale, accountability, cohesion and teamwork.
The following behaviors, if noted, must be addressed and stamped out.
Nobody wants to do someone else’s work, be blamed for someone else not doing their job, or work hard while others hardly work. Listen to complaints from your team about those who don’t put forth optimal effort and address it. Define job duties and expectations and monitor progress (or lack thereof), ensuring the problem team member is pulling their weight. Keep in mind you want to eliminate laziness. You’re not looking to eliminate employees who work hard but may not be the hardest working members of your team. Dedication, not obsession is what you’re pursuing.
A positive attitude can lift an organization and a negative one can sink it. One’s outlook – optimistic or pessimistic, glass half full or glass half empty – affects whether your team will pursue its vision and achieve its goals or fail to do both. A bad attitude, a negative outlook, a prism of fear is a disease, if allowed to spread, can destroy your firm or organization from the inside. It has to be confronted, addressed and changed.
Any form of bullying, yelling, screaming, throwing things, belittling and undermining cannot be tolerated. It doesn’t matter who is doing it or what role that person has at the firm or company. It’s toxic. Turning a blind eye to it validates and excuses that behavior to the bad actor and undermines and devalues the person who is the object of the bad behavior. More and more, firms and companies are implementing a “no jerk” rule. This bad behavior is corrosive to your team and can create an environment where others believe such behavior is not only permissible, but encouraged, and can lead to even more inappropriate behavior which can lead to civil lawsuits.
There are other behaviors that undermine your team, but these three, separately or collectively, can blast a hole in the positive culture you’re trying to create. Search out these behaviors and stop them.