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Melissa Shanahan

#155: Be On Your Best Game as an Employer with Molly McGrath (Part 2)

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Do you know why you’re experiencing high turnover rates in your law firm? Are you ready to figure out what it takes to retain your employees so you can finally stop running around in circles and get back your precious time and money?

Team development and empowerment extraordinaire Molly McGrath of Hiring & Empowering Solutions is back on the show this week, and she’s here to give us the lowdown on employee retention. You got a taste of the amazing work she does in part one, and on this episode, she’s offering her top tips for all law firm owners who know their staff are their greatest asset but who may not be showing up as the leader they need.

Tune in this week as Melissa quizzes Molly on what it takes to be a great leader and invest in your people to maintain employee retention. Molly is sharing the three keys to having a team-centric approach in your business, how to have a team that has your back and vice versa, and the importance of being willing to have courageous conversations with your employees.

Show Notes:

What You’ll Discover:

Why law firm owners lose out when they don’t have courageous conversations with their employees.

The 3 keys to having a team-centric approach.

Why money is the least important factor in employee retention.

Molly’s insights on what makes a great leader.

Why it’s your job to invest in your team.

The importance of true transparency and having clarity in your hiring process.

How a lack of intentionality as a law firm owner is detrimental to your team.

Why your admin staff and receptionists are the most important people in your business.

Featured on the Show:

Create space, mindset, and concrete plans for growth. Start here: Velocity Work Monday Map.

Join Mastery Group

Hiring & Empowering Solutions: Website | Podcast | Blog

Law Firm Admin Bootcamp

#153: Be On Your Best Game as an Employer with Molly McGrath (Part 1)

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Full Episode Transcript:

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This podcast is for attorneys who are running their own firms. We explore tactics, tools, and stories related to pushing past simply lawyering well and into building a successful firm. Working in your firm and working on your business are two very different things. This podcast focuses on the latter.

Melissa Shanahan: Welcome, everyone to this episode of the Velocity Work. podcast. I am here for part two, with Molly McGrath. Molly, thank you so much for coming back to share with our listeners.

Molly McGrath: Oh, thank you for having me, Melissa, I'm excited.

Melissa: Me too. There's a couple of things I wanted to get to last time and we didn't have time. So, looking forward to digging into those today. One of those things is employee retention, and how law firm owners need to be thinking differently and show up differently with their team. So, that they can actually retain those that they have, instead of just this turnover rate, which is really frustrating, totally unproductive, costs a lot of money, and… Yeah, not the way to go.

So, I'm really looking forward to hearing what you have to say there. And then the other side, though, just as we were getting on the call, you mentioned that you had just hung up with someone who reached out to you. It was not a law firm owner, they were actually a team member, or the support staff for a law firm.

Molly: Yes.

Melissa: They're coming to you because they want you to find them a great firm to work in. That struck me because, I don't know, maybe I'm alone in this. I just always assumed that the primary relationship that you have is with law firm owners. You put your tentacles out into the world, you find great candidates, you screen them, and you vet them and all of that. And then, eventually, you help get them placed into your clients’ firms.

But what I'm realizing, is that there is, yes, of course, you have a relationship with law firm owners, and it is just what I said. But you also have a relationship, and people reach out to you that are support staff. That are saying, “Hey, find me a great place to work.” Which basically means, “I'm going to leave where I am, so find me a good spot.” I would love for you to say a little bit more about that, if you don't mind. I can ask something specific if you want to, but I don't know that people really understand; you have both angles coming at you.

Molly: Yes, and you know, as you say that... So yes, I do have both angles coming at me. I've been doing this for 26 years now, involved with many, many different legal organizations; I've taught Team Empowerment Academy, the Key Assistant Academy.

I'm coming out with my revised program 12-week Bootcamp for Law Firm Admin team members, because there's endless training for paralegals, endless training for associates and for law firm owners, business owners, but there's nothing out there for the front-of-house. I don't say this to be slight, but the lower-level positions, admin positions, which, I feel, is the most important position within a law firm.

I do have people that reach out to me all the time that either, I've known throughout the years, and/or now that we're all, especially since COVID, we're visible, now. So, people are spending time on LinkedIn. Especially when you're not happy, or you start perusing. So often people will say, “I just went on Indeed to see what the market wasn’t bearing. I just went on LinkedIn to see what was out there.”

That's when our phone starts ringing, because we are recruiters. People will see our ads, and things of that nature. A really good admin team will go as far as to research my company, find a phone number, and then call me. So, we do have a database of people that I've known throughout the years, over 26 years, whether it be legal admin, associated attorneys, marketing coordinators, what have you, that will reach out to us and say, “I'm not happy.”

I do want to say this really, really loud and clear though, I do not poach people's employees that I have relationships with my existing clients and things of that nature. So, if it is somebody who will call me and say, “You know my attorney, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…” I will lobby really, really, really hard for them to get into a coaching environment to have a courageous, crucial conversation with their attorney, or if they have a law firm CEO or COO, or something of that nature, and really empower them with those skills. To see, so they… Because the pathway is not necessarily easier than where you're at, and you're going to have to hone those skills anyway for your own personal professional growth.

If it's a law firm, that I've worked with, that I know intimately, I will start very, very hard. I actually will tell them, “I won't help you, unless you have an adult conversation with your attorney, especially in this market. Go and tell them. I know you think you've told them you're not happy. I know you think you did, and they're not willing to change. But this is how you should go have a conversation with them, in a very empowering format.”

That's my favorite; is when people come back, either the attorney or the legal team member, or them together and say, “You know what? You're right.” It's almost like a bad marriage, so to speak. “We need therapy. We need help. Get us some coaching because we don't want to break up. We really truly want to work on this. They're a phenomenal employee. They're a great law firm, it's just sideways.” I'll talk a little bit about what's occurring and how to retain your employees.

Melissa: I love that. Because really, truly, if the law firms that you're working with don't win, you don't win. And so, you want to give that its best possibility, with what they've got.

Because, I would just imagine, if someone's not happy, and they just called you up, and you're like, “Okay, let's find you a new place.” Then, it puts the law firm owner, that you knew, in a bind, and you're also not helping the person that just wants to exit stage left. You're not helping them develop, to be able to learn how to have those kinds of conversations, or to develop the skill set to deal with things the way they should be dealt with.

It's just such a good approach. It's not like… I think the easy thing would be like, “Alright, I got a guy with a need over here. Let's see what you have over here.” That will be the easy thing to do for you.

Do you wish… You would make money faster if you did that? But it's not playing the long game, you play the long game. You want everybody to really win, really win. And, that means going slow, making sure people are deliberate and methodical and adult. And, that's great.

Molly: Yes. Thank you for saying that. It really, truly is. I would not be able to… I only work with people that really believe in having courageous conversations, having transparency and vulnerability, having an open-door policy, if you will. Where people could come in, and to your point, be thankful that that assistant called me and not another recruiter from some of the national brands, or what have you. Because they're like, “Oh, yeah, let me get you a job.”

Really, truly, that's a headhunter function versus a recruiter, that is the difference. Usually, employees reach out to a headhunter, which I am not a headhunter. However, if I have legal people, legal team members, legal employees reaching out to me, I'm going to take it as an opportunity to have a coaching conversation with them and empower them.

And whether… Really, truly, even if I don't know the law firm, I’m not going to quickly say, “Great, let me go find you another law firm,” because it's going to come back if they aren't able to have the courageous conversations and be a leader, leading leaders.

Melissa: Yeah. Those are the kinds of people you want to place your clients. It’s someone who can have those conversations and understands that side of things. Yeah. So good. Okay, well, let's talk about employee retention. You just did a presentation on this for the North Carolina Bar Association meeting, yes?

Molly: On Friday.

Melissa: Yeah. So not that it's not always fresh on your mind, but that struck me. It's like, “Oh, she just did this a couple days ago.” Let's… You can just regurgitate some of the main points, I don't know.

Molly: Yeah.

Melissa: I would love to hear what you have to say on this topic. I can ask specific questions, and I probably will, as we dig into it, but just out of the gates, what would you say about employee retention?

Molly: Well, you know, it's interesting, because I was brought in to speak, and the topic I was speaking on was, Associate Compensation Profiles, which I found was really interesting that they used that term versus models, and fee structures or pay structures, and things of that nature.

I know the attorneys were feeling a little agitated with me, because I didn't just drop in and do, “Okay, here's the eat-what-you-kill model,” which by the way, does not exist anymore, and what have you. But I started and I said, “Guys, listen, we can talk about the models, and what the market’s bearing, and what's working, and what's attracting, and retaining new employees, etc. But at the end of the day, it's not about the money first, and foremost.”

So, from an employee retention perspective, I kid you not, money is the last. I've had people leave positions and come take a position for $25,000 less than what they're making right now. Because the energetic and the emotional energy. This girl that just called me, and I think this story is really, really valid. She called me, young, oh gosh, she's 30 years old, working for a law firm in California Just had a baby not too long ago, what have you. Husband got transferred to Tennessee. She still stayed with the firm, been with the firm for about a year now. Started off as Operations Manager, for lack of better term.

They've had so much turnover. And, now she's doing some paralegal work. In addition to, now she's a recruiter, trying to hire and find new people, and fill these positions because people are leaving, etc.

Talking to her, I said, “Well tell me why is this happening. Tell me what is happening.” And what I love, Melissa, and I think this is worth saying, she said to me, and I couldn't believe the vulnerability; I had a 20-minute conversation with this girl. She said, “Alright, we moved from California to Tennessee. We had, you know, tons of wine, right? So, we belonged to a wine club, things of that nature, what have you. Well, we've been here, in Tennessee, for about four months now, and my husband said to me last week, he's like, ‘The wine’s disappearing.’ He goes, ‘I'm noticing that you are drinking more at night.’”

And she's like, “Thank God, my husband said that to me, because I am so stressed out. I was hired for 25 hours a week, and now I'm working 35 to 40. I have two small kids, one who's not even walking, and then a two-year-old. I have tiny kids. They're at daycare. I'm showing up late for daycare all the time… Where I'm trying to recruit my husband, pulling him out of work to go get them, because there's constant emergencies in this law firm.”

Wait, timeout. There are no emergencies, in this area of law that they're working in, in estate planning and elder law. The emergency is not like you have the court opposing counsel, things of that nature. “Talk to me about this.” And, it came back to that the attorney’s just never available.

I'm saying this in a place to really demonstrate, I'm like, “Tell me how much you're making an hour.” She's like, “$45 an hour.” I'm like, “Okay, great. You're going to have a conversation with the law firm owner,” which, full disclosure, I don't know, I've never heard of them before.

“And, I'm going to give you an hour coaching call, to go back and have a conversation with the attorney. You're going to be very clear that you're at your breaking point, and what have you. Talk to them about what you see as the pain points, and the problems, and what's happening. But in addition, I'm not going to be able to, probably, get you a position that I'm thinking of. Of ones that you might be a good fit, for $25 an hour, making $45.”

Telling her already, in the first 10 minutes of our call, “I probably can get you some [inaudible]. She said, “I don't care. Just get me a place. It's not about the money.” So, I say this to the attorneys that are listening; it's not. That's the last… And we all know this.

We all see marketing studies of why clients buy and etc. “Price,” we think as business owner, salespeople, what have you. That it’s because of price. Prices don’t last. If there's no value, then price goes to the front, because they're not seeing the value in it.

This employee, when she's going… And, she came to me from their outsource drafting person, and said, her and I are starting to commiserate because the attorney is blowing off deadlines. Not blowing off internal meetings, but not having any communication about it.

And so, when it comes time for, and I just did this at the North Carolina State Bar, I’m like, “Number one, you have to start with transparency: Where true north is, what's going on, what's working, what's not working, where you're available, where you're not available, what people can expect to use, so they can plan your work and work your plan.”

“Number two, is that you really, truly have to have clarity in your hiring process.” Because what was happening, the attorney’s hiring these people, not communicating with anyone in the firm, especially this office manager, and then dumping them on her desk, and like, “Great, I just hired a 1099 outsource paralegal,” not involved in the process at all. It's not a team-centric approach.

And the next thing, is you need consistency, collaboration and communication, in order to keep your team. It's that simple. As I'm thinking of this presentation, fresh in my head, I quickly interview her on these three things. “Like on a scale of one to ten, where would you rate this?” She’s like, “Less than zero, on all three of them.” She goes, “Right now, this morning, I just came out of a meeting which sent me to my breaking point to call you.” Thankfully I was available to answer the phone.

“But we're in our team meeting, the attorney hasn't showed up for three weeks, and finally shows up and loses her religion on the drafting coordinator because there's mistakes. Or, because there's absence, or missing things, for documents that she drafted three months ago.” The attorney kept pushing off reviewing, pushing and ditching their meetings.

It's that simple. You're hiring human beings, first and foremost. You have this person who's drinking at night to de-stress before her kids come home from sports, and what have you. Her husband's like, “Let me just take it. I know you're keep doing these emergency meetings.” And, she's like, “At night, I just had to sit on my deck and stare at a tree, and drink two glasses of wine.”

She's not a full-blown alcoholic, but she's like, “I have a Peloton™ that I used to do every single day, before this job. I was running, I was in the best shape of my life. But now, I'm not. Please find me a job where I get paid less, so I can get my emotional energy, and to get freedom, and to get some congruency in my life, because I'm feeling so stressed out.”

Melissa: Hmm. Gosh, it's just all so unnecessary. That's what’s…

Molly: Right!

Melissa: It's so unnecessary. It's certainly not intentional by the law firm owner, but it is the lack of intentionality that’s getting them where they are. And, it's just so unnecessary.

Molly: It's a lack of intentionality. It's also the mindset. So often, I will hear from attorneys, they will call me and they're like, “Listen, I just got, probably, two emails over the weekend about this. I need to hire someone. They need to come “batteries included.” I've absolutely no time to train, and I am so busy,” is number one.

But then, number two, there's still this old-school mindset that starts with, “When I was an associate… I didn't get any time from the managing partner. We didn't have team meetings; I got dumped all this work. I work 60-80 hours a week, and I only got paid…” You know how that lands?

Like when our parents would tell us, “When I was a kid, I walked up hill, in a blazing snowstorm, with no shoes. Up, both ways to school.” Nobody cares. It's not empowering. It's not helpful. When it's, basically, communicating to your team you do not care at all what they think, and you are so stuck in the past, and this is a sweatshop.

Melissa: Mm-hmm, yeah. Totally. Okay, so consistency; say the three things again.

Molly: Yes. I mean, this story, just alone, is number one: Transparency. Like having a meeting. Here's true north. Here's where we're going. Melissa, you run retreats all the time, and starting with those strategic plans, and what have you. So often, business owners will build that and then put it on a shelf, or they'll keep it secret, and they don't share it with their team.

Melissa: Totally 100%. And, yeah, you say put it on a shelf… Like they don't even execute on it. And, let alone share it, so that everyone is rowing in the same direction. Amazing. Yeah, exactly.

Molly: And that's… I love that you use that term, “Everybody is rowing in the same direction.” It's that simple. That people want to know that. Where are we going? Who's doing what to reach goal? And, being able to lay that out. When I say transparency, call it vulnerability, call it what have you.

So often, the only thing that team hears is you're so stressed out, so busy, and there's no time, at all. It is okay. Whether you're saying that out loud, or thundering silence or not silent, it’s waking through the office, whether it be virtual, or brick and mortar, halls, so to speak. They're making up their own stories in it, right?

So, if you're ditching meetings, or you're not returning clients’ phone calls… I've actually had employees say to me, “There's no way that this attorney or our attorneys would not care about the clients, we’re not returning client phone calls. We're not getting clients their documents, or getting them whatever the next step in the process that’s delivered on. So, we must be going out of business, because they don't care anymore.”

These are the stories that people go to, especially if there's more than one attorney, partner. Maybe both of you aren't showing up at meetings anymore. Just one of you showing up at meetings, or not having… They're not clear on where we are, where we're going, etc. So, then they make up stories of partnerships breaking up, “We're out of money. We don't have any money. The phone's not ringing. They're not showing up and doing their podcast, or their webinar, or whatever for marketing. They won't get… Marketing department’s constantly calling us because they're not getting them the YouTube videos. So, this thing must be sinking, right?”

No, but attorneys, they're so busy because the thing’s on fire, it's rockin’-and-rollin,’ it's good. So, people go to this place of story-making. The more that you can share with them, regardless of… I'm not saying open up your QuickBooks™, and your P&L’s, and things of that nature. I have seen law firms, and Melissa I know you probably have seen this with the firms that you coach, when the attorney is so transparent, and is really clear, “Guys…”  I've had firms say this, “Guys, we're in trouble. We need to get the phone ringing. Right now, our calendar’s not booked up. We have all these leads that we're not following up.” That's a very, very common one, and I’ll just stop there.

They'll say, “We need to get this calendar booked. We need to get leads start to be followed up on. I need to get freedom of time, so I can start making these team meetings, I can start getting some of the marketing stuff done.” And, you might not know what to do or how to do it, as a business owner and the attorney.

I have seen teams rally so hard and take a bullet. They're like, “Oh, you want the calendar full? Great. What does it look like? What's our formula for success? What do you want me to do? Okay, great. If I'm doing that, then somebody's got to take inbound-outbound mail off my plate.” Someone has to do, what have you. Your busy attorney, paralegal says, “Hey, what if I handle this part of the process?” I mean, they rally together. Right? You see it every day.

Melissa: Yeah, that's so, so good. Something you just said a moment ago, as well, that employees will start making up stories about what's going on. They're just assumptions. They're just like, “Well, I assume things are not going well, because they don't show up anymore. Or, they're doing X-Y-Z or whatever. And, it just made me think… I wrote down, the signals that maybe it's not because they're unintentional, but that's a part of it. But when you aren't intentional, as the owner, with how you show up at work, it gives signals that you may not mean to give, and it spins people off in their own stories about what's happening. And then, there's talk.

Molly: Yes.

Melissa: Yeah, it just creates this, without transparency, I guess, without transparency, there is this smokescreen that's created, that people are just trying to figure out what is going on. Trying to make sense of it, and probably wonder if their job is secure, all at the same time.

Molly: Their job secure also is… These are things they hear every single day, right? I talk to candidates, my number one question is, “Why are you talking to a recruiter today?” They'll say, “Well, the writing's on the wall, and…” Like, what writing? And, they will give me these exact scenarios. It's not even, “Am I going to be out of a job?” It's also, “Is this thing even intentional? Is it growing? Is it…? I don't just want to show up every day and have a paycheck. I want to be part of… I want to be a difference maker. I want to give impact.”

Especially, in law. It is such a service-based industry. So, anybody who's in the area of law has to have… Start with heart in some way, shape or form.

Melissa: Do you think that it's a common belief for law firm owners to think that an admin role, or a support role, of any kind, is not going to be fulfilling? Because it wouldn't be for them, right? They went to law school, they went wherever. So, it's like, “Well, I'm always going to end up with a pool of people where the job doesn't have great meaning, because this job wouldn't have great meaning.” Which, coming out of my mouth, that sounds terrible. But I imagine that that's a belief.

Molly: I love this question. Yes, it is a belief. And sometimes, it's a belief of the candidate, too. In all honesty, people will use the term like receptionists, okay? What does everybody believe the definition of receptionist is? You’re a bottom feeder, your desk is the dumping ground for all the crap that nobody else wants to do, and you're just going to answer the phone and sort mail. Oh, that sounds… Life goals. No. Or, law clerk. Just even the term clerk it just has such a temporary connotation to it, and you're just on a conveyor belt. But that's not the truth. It isn't at all.

So, when you find somebody who is willing to take a position… I don't use the term receptionists anymore. I use Client Service Coordinator. I've heard people say, Chief Happiness Officer, I've heard all these great terms.

You take someone from where they are, and take them to where they want to be. Again, having conversations with them. This goes back to your hiring process. Talking to people, and really making certain that you're painting the pictures of the walls here. So, yes, “This is your job percentage answering phones. Your job is to be the gatekeeper. Your job is not just, take this position.”

It's all in the delivery, and how you are enrolling people into that. Making sure they have key performance indicators, they have goals. The receptionist, for lack of better term, is the most important position in the law firm. Without them, the attorneys are irrelevant. They have no one to meet with. They have nobody to meet with because this is your director of first impressions; it's the very first person.

So, when you find someone… And again, the second one is your hiring process, and making certain that you hire human beings, first and foremost, versus human doings. Often, I'll have attorneys say, “Why are you sending me this crappy resume? This person blah, blah, blah…” Like, whoa, whoa, whoa, timeout. It's the human being stuff that get people fired, not the human doing.

You can always train skills and knowledge. You cannot train mindset, emotional intelligence. You cannot train integrity, communication, attitude, all of that. Yes, I do believe that there's that perception.

But also, it's our opportunity, I believe, as business owners, or leaders if you're in a C-suite or PLA position, or what have you, or office manager… It's our job to take people from where they are, and grow them up, and to invest in them. That's the number one job description, if you own a law firm, or you own anything, is to truly invest and pour into your people. It's a greatest asset within a firm.

I do believe that the employee, sometimes, even thinks that. Then people will say, “There's so much turnover. She keeps job-hopping, or what have you.” I'm like, “Consider the possibility; the reason this person is job-hopping is because nobody ever poured into them. So let your law firm be the very last position they ever take, and let them retire here. And let's just invest some time into them.” Again, that consistency, collaboration and communication.

Melissa: Yeah. And, it's not like you're asking people do this blind. I mean, they go through an interview process. You do try to make sure this is the right fit. They do see the full picture; they buy into the full picture. If you vet well… And I love what you said, “Just decide that this is this person's last job.”

Molly: They're going to change their world like you change the world for your clients. You're going to change your own world, as the attorney, because you're finally going to have somebody who has your back.

Melissa: Yes, just decide that that's what's going to happen. I mean, worst case scenario, you're wrong. But you gave it your all to make sure that you show up in the right way. So that if, for whatever reason, it didn't work out with that person, it's going to happen for you. Where you can actually retain someone because it was a good fit. And, you are showing up with what you're supposed to show up.

I think that really is taking control where you have control. People think, “Well, I can't decide this is going be that person's last job. I don't know that to be true.” No, but you can decide that that's how you're going to show up. That this is that person's last job. If you can do that, you give your firm the best chance to retain someone fantastic. And, to let them see and feel the purpose of their role, not just their title and tasks.

I mean, what you said to me, strikes me as helping even the employee. They may not have a great understanding of how they contribute. Sharing with them the purpose of the role, not the tasks, but the purpose of why they're there, and why that matters so much. Because every role that you have, there's a reason why they're there and it matters so much, or else you wouldn't be hiring for it. So, getting in tune with that and being able to share it with them.

Molly: Yeah, it's the hiring, and it's also the retention. So right now, listening here, whether you're hiring or you have people already, really our goal, my goal for you listening today, is that you will take a stop-drop-and-roll. You will do the power-of-the-pause and really look at where are you showing up transparent with your team.

Get a retreat with Melissa, if you don't have the skill sets and the knowledge, or what have you with it. Hire someone to support you with getting that framework together with… Whether it be level-10 meetings or whatever terms resonate with you; daily huddles, quarterly employee growth plans, doing a review with everyone and checking in with them. What's working, what's not working from their…

There's no shortage of resources. There's no shortage of strategy. You have to start with shifting your mindset. Today, I would invite you, after listening to this podcast, to no longer ever say, “You're too busy,” ever again. I tell my clients all the time, “We are not allowed to ever say that. We’re burning the boats on that language.”

You have to invest in your employees, guys, that is our greatest resource. Even if you have subpar people, what have you. And to your point, Melissa, so often I will interview people, and our job as recruiters in this insane, tight market in the legal space, is to talk to everyone and anyone. I don't even read the resumes anymore. I’ll glance at it really quick, or what have you…

Because this is one thing I will say, with all this artificial intelligence, and the internet, and all that, there's all these one-click applies. Indeed’s the worst. If any of you are hiring on Indeed, their resumes that they have, their algorithm is so wonky that, so often, my recruiters and I will call people and they're like, “Where the heck did you get that resume?” I’m like, “Um, Indeed, again.”

Talk to as many people… So often, I will send resumes to law firms, and they'll say, like I said earlier, “Why are you sending me this resume?” I’m like, “Trust me, get in the Zoom Room with this person.” And, to your point of hearing, “Why have you job-hopped?” Throw out all the canned interview questions that you get from the Googles, and everything else.

Have a human being conversation with them. “What's your story? Why are you even working in law? Why do you want to be just a receptionist?” I use that all the time, like, “Alright, what do you think? What's your experience with being at the front-of-house? Don't you feel like this is the lowest level position in a law firm?” Be quiet, and see how they answer it.

And then, sell your firm, in regard to what you do. When I have my greatest super-weapon for anyone, whether it be an associate attorney, or a receptionist, or law clerk, or paralegal is that this firm invests in personal professional growth. They have Melissa on staff. They belong to this organization. They do quarterly retreats. Every single week, the attorney shows up at the meetings, the attorney doesn't ditch meetings. Actually, everybody has a team-centric approach.

When I paint the picture, in the office, of how things happen… I have some of my attorneys that will say, flat out, “I'm not the boss. I need you to tell me what to do, because I cannot be leading this thing. I need to be serving clients.”

I had an interview last week where the attorney showed up and he goes, “Listen, I am so stressed out. I have four kids and I am raising, as a single parent, that overnight, I did not anticipate. I'm running this huge litigation firm. I am, right now, I am showing up and I'm screaming at my staff. I told them, ‘I'm totally aware of how I'm showing up. And, I just need to get an associate attorney in here, and a law firm administrator. But right now, I can't breathe.’” The team were like, “Okay, we know where we stand. We know who you are.” And, even the candidate in the interview is like, “I love this. This is exactly why you need to hire me.” They weren't like, “No, I won't work with this screamer,” because he named it. He's like, “This is who I am. This is how I'm showing up. This why I'm showing up this way. And, it's temporary, right now.”

Melissa: Just be real. Just be real.

Molly: Yes. Oh, yeah. When I'm interviewing people, I'm like, “Listen, this attorney has a personality of a cinderblock. They're going to show up in the Zoom Room. They're not going to smile at all. There's no warm and fuzzies here. They're highly analytical. This is what their Kolby is, this is what their DISC is, this is how they're wired, or what have you. What you see is what you get. But they are really, truly, they treat their employees very well. And you know, it is a very stuffy, traditional law firm.

And, people will be like, “Great.” Two out of ten people might say, “That's who I am. I'm analytic. I don't have time for small talk. I don't care what you had for breakfast. I don't want to hear about your kids, blah, blah, blah.”

And then, another eight of them might say, “Oh, no, no, no. I need the Kumbaya, that's not going to work for me.” Great. Just be honest and transparent of who you are, how you show up, your expectations, how you manage, and you don't have to change you, or maybe you do, we all should be changing and evolving.

Melissa: Oh, it's so good. Okay, you said transparency was the first thing, but then you said three other words.

Molly: So, the second one is a hiring process. Bringing your team in through the hiring process is, number two. And then, number three, is really… And, in your hiring process, have it be that. “Alright, this is who I am. This is how I show up. Here's my expectations. Here's what you can expect. I don't have any time to train. I do have a lot of time to train. Here's what's going on,” and bring your team involved.

Whoever's responsible for training, onboarding, and communicating with this new employee, should be part of that process. Secondly, I'm going to say about hiring, is that the old-school hiring mentalities of four interviews, 62 different writing samples, 92 different assessments, and running them through the wringer no longer work.

If you're hiring, even for a receptionist or an associate attorney, if they're really, really good, and they're a rockstar, they have interviews lined up, they have other job interviews, offers on the table. I lost three candidates, on Friday alone, for three different associate attorney positions because they showed up for the second interview, and then they told them there's going to be, “Oh, wait, we forgot. You’ve got to do this assessment, you’ve got to fill this out, you’ve got….” And, they're like, “I’m out. I don't have to work this hard for a job.”

So, really take a look at your entire hiring process, from cradle to grave, from beginning to end. Communicate that to the candidate. Get really clear and make sure your calendar is freed up for that, to be able to support it, because you have to move fast. We're never going back to a 14-step hiring process, ever again. It has to be clear, concise, and well communicated, and streamlined. Communicate it, up front, to the candidates that you are interested in. If you don't have time, then have someone on your staff do it. They would love to.

Melissa: And that's something you help facilitate, is that correct?

Molly: Yeah.

Melissa: With your clients?

Molly: Yeah, I'd be happy to share my process with anyone, too. Yeah.

Melissa: Well, okay. I was asking you what the few things… it was like…

Molly: The third one: Consistency, collaboration and communication. And, put those all in one.

Melissa: Okay. Okay.

Molly: In one.

Melissa: Consistency, collaboration and communication. I love that.

Molly: That is all together because you can have collaboration, but if it's not consistent, and it doesn't have the communication with it… We go do a fun 90-day or a strategic retreat, or what have you, or we have a one marketing meeting that was a one-and-done and never happened again, it doesn't have a stickiness. And, your team won't believe it, especially if you've had the absence of this. You have to really look at where we are consistent, plus collaboration, plus communication, and this is one, all together. One does not stand without the other.

Melissa: Mm-hmm. So good. I am so grateful that you came back on. We'll definitely be doing this again.

Molly: I love it. I love it. I’m just so… You know, Melissa, I think I said this on the last podcast, I'm writing a book right now called, Fix My Employees (er). And, in parentheses, it has e-r, like fix my employer. And, they're both right. I hear from employees all the time, “Fix my attorneys.” I hear from attorneys, all the time, “Fix my people.” It's really just comes down to they both want the same thing.

I really, in this book, want to give a framework that is very much like this conversation, that's a two-sided relationship. And, really, truly, in closing, I want the listeners to hear, if there's nothing you could take away from this, is really, the employers have thought that “employees” was a transaction, for so long. You show up, do your job, and you will get rewarded with money. And, for employees, it's always been about the relationship. They just didn't have the context or the language.

I don't want to keep saying before the pandemic, all that, but it's true, because people were home. If you're really great and you believe in personal professional development, you spend a ton of time online and coaching programs, and podcasts and blogs, and things that they're trying to figure out. And, where do we spend most of our waking hours? At work. So, that's a relationship, that I hear from people all the time, that takes the most energy, mental energy of what they think about and worry about, even above their personal relationships.

Melissa: Mm-hmm. Yeah, absolutely. I've been in a job where that was happening. It's terrible. It just sucks the life out of you, over time.

Molly: Yeah. Or, it can be super rewarding, where you're like, “Oh, my God, I love when people are sending me emails on Saturday, my team members.” I’m like, “What are you doing?” They’re like, “Oh my god, I'm so excited. I finally have two hours, my kids are napping, or what have you. So, I can just have this white space, and be able to knock out this project.” That is when you know that you have, really, truly have created a firm with that consistency, collaboration and communication.

Melissa: Yes, yes. So good. So, you revised this program that is successful over the years, but it's for law firm owner admin employees. Can you say a little bit more about that?

Molly: Sure. It's called the Law Firm Admin Bootcamp. It's a 12-week program. It's one price for the entire law firm. I have a whole academy of my hiring process, my employee handbooks, everything that I've created over the past 26 years. I created this program. For a long time it was called the Key Assistant Program. Then, we revised it into the Team Empowerment Academy.

And, I just realized that I'm going to call it what it is, it’s a Law Firm Admin Bootcamp. It's a 12-week program. There's nothing out there for admin team, the front-of-house, to really empower them and support them in creating that framework. To own the calendar, to own the client journey, to own the follow-up, because they're all responsible for it. When you think of it like that, versus just a receptionist, it's a game-changer.

So, we have that program and we have revised it. Then, we are relaunching it, and it starts in June, the third week of June. Tuesday at four o'clock Eastern Time, is that next class that kicks off.

Melissa: That’s so great. If they want to learn more, go to…


Melissa: Perfect. Okay, that's good. I mean, this sounds like a no-brainer. People should definitely do this. I'm going to tell all my clients about it.

Molly: Oh, thank you. This has been wonderful. Thank you so much for coming back on, and I look forward to the next time we do this, because there will be a next time.

Molly: Yes. Thank you.

Melissa: Bye-Bye.

Molly: Bye.

Hey, you may not know this, but there's a free guide for a process that I teach called, Monday Map / Friday Wrap. If you go to, it's all yours. It's about how to plan your time and honor your plans, so that week over week, more work that moves the needle is getting done in less time. Go to to get your free copy.

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