Help Me Help You

As a manager I have always prided myself in keeping an open-door policy. I always make the time for anyone and everyone who just wants to ask a question, or even just chat. Even if I am in the middle of something. I never turn anyone away. I truly believe that, even though I am the manager, I am, first and foremost, a paralegal. I am one of you. Not that long ago I was where you are and I do not want to forget that for a minute. I believe this is what makes me a successful manager. At least I think I am a successful manager. 

So I write this post, first to apologize for not having as much time as I once had and second as an explanation and a request for your help. 

Lately I have found that my time is less than enough to meet all the deadlines I have been assigned. In today’s economy and the land of small budgets and small staff, I am faced with having to take on more and more of the day-to-day paralegal work as well as my other managerial responsibilities. There are millions of phone messages and e-mails to return and, as usual, the end of year means more work for the legal department. In the end, the amount of work coming in is too much for my small group to handle without me putting in a full day, or almost a full day of case work. I’m not complaining, I love what I do. However, for me to put in a full day of case work means that the managerial aspect of my work gets placed on the back burner and piled up to be done later. Later means either doing it at home or staying really late to complete it. The past few weeks this has happened every day.

In thinking about ways to stretch my day one of the things I thought of was to stop having such an open door policy. I thought about discouraging my team from coming in and talking. The small interruptions can take up a lot of my day. Then the word TEAM repeated itself in my brain.

We are a TEAM and as such, there is nothing wrong with me asking all of you for some help. I promise I will not add to workload. So here is what I came up with. This is how you can help me be a more efficient manager/paralegal:

1.  Come into my office prepared with a problem and a few solutions worked out in you head or your notepad;
2.  Bring in a few questions at a time. Save a few files and bring them in once a day or even twice a day. 
3.  Instead of just coming to my office, what about sending me an email, if it’s not an urgent matter. 
4.  You don’t have to justify or recount everything you did during the day. Believe me, I trust you to do the right thing.
5.  If you scheduled some time to meet with me, please make every effort to show up. If you cannot make it, let me know. Having me sit in my office waiting for you is very unproductive. Also if you are going to be late, please call me. I may have another meeting scheduled and may have to reschedule our meeting. Sometimes five minutes can make a lot of difference. 

So these are some of the small ways in which you can help me. How can I help you?

Your Paralegal Supervisor,

3 thoughts on “Help Me Help You

  1. Great article, Ana. Constant interruptions always lead to decreased productivity for everyone. It’s impossible to get anything done if someone pops in every time they have a question … and they interrupt themselves, too. Saving questions and files for a once or twice a day ‘meeting’ is a better idea and the end result will be that everyone gets more done.

  2. I am not a manager and found this to be very informative. Those of us who are not managers tend to forget that our supervisors have deadlines and “chores” to complete each day. Thank you! I can now help my manager help me better! Great post!

    1. I complete understand and I’m sure your manager feels the same way I feel. We want to spend as much time as you need usbto spend with you. It’s fun gettingnto known the people we work with but sometimes we just do not have the time. It’s not our ideal situation but I think it accomplishes two things: 1) you learn to be more independent; and 2) we don’t rush you because we’ve had time to get our other work done.

      Thank you for understanding.


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