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Stop a bully senior manager without losing your job

By Lynne Curry Question: I face a situation that has no easy answer and no good solution. As the newly hired human resources director, I supposedly enforce our organization’s code of conduct and oversee the human resource issues. I report to the report to the chief operating officer, a bully who runs roughshod over any employee unlucky enough to cross his path. If I keep my mouth shut, I turn a blind eye to what he’s doing, but he’s my boss and according to the five senior partners above him a “leader who gets results.” I read your book on bullies and you seemed to think bullies can change their ways. Can they, even when they’re on top of the organization pyramid? Answer: Bullies can change—though often they won’t. Bullies… . . . read more


5 ways to say goodbye to the procrastination blues

By Lynne Curry The report’s good, but not good enough. You should have worked on it a week ago, but you put it off. Friday afternoon, you panicked. You killed a perfectly good weekend to get everything finished by the Monday morning due date. If you want to break the “put it off until nearly too late” habit, try these five strategies. 1. Decide you’ll start projects when you need to start them — even if you don’t “feel ready” Procrastinators hesitate to begin projects until they “feel ready.” Unfortunately, you may not feel ready until long after you should have started. The antidote? When you commit to a project, assign a “D” (no more delay) date. When that date arrives, start the project, even if your only action is… . . . read more


10 tips to turn toxic management into teamwork

By Daryll Esposito You know how valuable your employees are. The question is, do they know you know it? The working world is changing fast, and so are the demands of leadership. Successful law offices must nurture an environment that is not only productive but also provides flexibility, opportunity, and job satisfaction. Almost two-thirds of small to midsized companies report that employee retention is a bigger problem than hiring new talent, according to recent research from Zenefits. And when good staffers leave, it creates costly disruptions that can hamper overall productivity. WHAT IS A TOXIC BOSS? Leadership is never easy. It requires big-picture thinking, tough calls, and a deft touch to nudge things in the right direction. It also requires mutual trust and respect with everyone you work with. A… . . . read more


Carve out some calm amid the chaos

With the demands of your job as a manager in busy law office, turnover in today’s staffing market, worries about world upheaval, and your own personal challenges outside work, life is stressful. Executive leadership coach Hortense le Gentil says you need to reclaim some mental space to make room for your intuition. Here’s her advice: Let your brain take a break! Breaks allow you to check in with yourself and refuel. Checking in helps you align with yourself as you step back, get some distance, remind yourself of your “why,” and examine whether your thoughts, your words, and your actions are congruent. Ubiquitous technology is making unplugging far more difficult everywhere, as email and cellphones follow us wherever we go. To make things worse, it is often difficult to switch off this… . . . read more


Beware the Bermuda Triangle of workplace conflicts

By Lynne Curry We don’t always understand why we react to some people, nor they to us. Or why otherwise talented employees and supervisors get tangled in interpersonal messes that create toxic work environments. Over the years, when I’ve helped clients fix workplace conflicts, I’ve discovered some of the most challenging conflicts stem from drama triangle collisions. Like the Bermuda Triangle, that North Atlantic Ocean region where ships mysteriously vanish, the drama triangle lurks beneath the surface of many messy person-to-person interactions. The drama triangle represents a three-way match of negative energy. If you’ve not heard of matching energy, consider what happens when you meet a coworker who talks about everything that’s going wrong. Your energy vampire coworker drains your energy until you feel negative, matching her energy. In this… . . . read more


Own your piece of the action

By Lynne Curry “It wasn’t my fault. I blew up because I had the worst day.” “Anyone would have reacted the way I did.” When you lose your temper, shut down, or behave badly in other ways, you may feel tempted to rationalize your behavior. It can feel right to pin responsibility for your reactions on the other person or to attribute them to the situation. When you do, you hide from the truth. You said what you said. You did what you did. You own responsibility for what you say, how you feel and the actions you take. When you admit how you contribute to problems, you win. Owning = winning Consider the difference: “I did it” versus “you made me do it.” “I don’t like sarcasm” versus “you’re too sarcastic.” “I was… . . . read more


5 steps to take after you lose out on a promotion

By Lynne Curry You put your blood, sweat and heart into your job and this office. When a promotion came open, you thought it was yours. Except it wasn’t—you were passed over. If this has happened and you want the next promotion, or simply to be able to stand remaining in your job and at this office, take these five steps. Use your upset You can use your upset or be used by it. You may feel frustration, disappointment, anger, betrayal or all of the above. Don’t let your emotions run you. Don’t vent, mope, snap or quit. Let your emotions power you into constructive off-the-job actions, such as looking for a new job or taking classes to gain new skills. Let your anger power your outdoor or treadmill running,… . . . read more


Win a promotion, lose a friend

By Lynne Curry Question: When I started with my current office, I met and bonded with a coworker. We were hired at the same time and shared similar interests. We ate lunch together two to three times a week and went camping together. Three months ago, I got promoted. I now supervise her and other former coworkers. She and I went out for a celebratory lunch. It was horrible, the conversation stilted. She took potshots at me. I called her on it. She told me I’d misinterpreted what she’d said and had lost my sense of humor. Since then, things have awkward between us. I’ve asked her if something was wrong. She told me my status has gone to my head. I asked her how and insisted I’m still the… . . . read more


What you write can come back and bite

By Lynne Curry Your recorded words—they’re direct evidence. Direct evidence is evidence that proves the existence of a fact. Direct evidence includes someone else’s direct observations as in “I saw…,” “I heard….” Here’s a recent case where a staffing firm torpedoed itself and their client. The firm’s recruiter emailed 66,000 recipients. They emailed 66,000 individuals seeking applicants for a desktop support position for a client with a subject line “Desktop Support (Need Young Folks Only).1 Really? That’s direct evidence. And in September of 2021 the EEOC sued the staffing agency. Here’s a landmark case, Stewart v. Wells Fargo Bank, 5:15-cv-00988-MHH, that shows how a manager can undercut a potentially needed termination. Wells Fargo bank hired Deborah Stewart as a treasury management sales consultant. She had experience that qualified her for her… . . . read more


What stops you from saying what you want to say?

By Lynne Curry A law office manager must be able to have difficult conversations with staffers, speaking up with the right words at the right time. Is this difficult for you? Why can’t you say what you want to say? Is it: You’re afraid if you speak up or try to fix things, you’ll make them worse? You’re afraid you’ll make someone angry and lose a relationship or job? You’re afraid you’ll say the wrong thing or otherwise stick your foot in your mouth? You’re afraid the other person might retaliate? You fear that regardless of what you say, it won’t make a positive difference. You’re afraid you’ll be seen as uncaring or judgmental. You fear that if you start to speak, you’ll have “taken the cork out of the… . . . read more