Your secretary, whether you recognize it or not, can make or break your practice. When things are smooth sailing, your business can run like a well-oiled machine. If your secretary is dropping the ball or you two aren't on the same page, it can be a nightmare.
It's important to manage the relationship you have with your secretary to ensure that they feel like they are a valued member of your team and that you appreciate and respect their contributions.
Here are some ways your can work with your secretary more effectively:
Open Up the Lines of Communication
Make yourself available and willing to answer any questions that may arise. You don't ever want to make your secretary feel afraid to come to you if they don't understand something or have a suggestion on how you can be more efficient. Perhaps have a standing weekly meeting to check in so they know what the pressing matters are for the week and they can address any looming issues then.
A lot of times attorneys give very rushed and vague instructions and the secretary is left to try to make sense of it all. It is your job to give your secretary everything they need to complete the task at hand. So be sure to thoroughly explain how you want a task done, the timeframe you need it by and give them the tools and resources to complete it.
Give Honest Feedback Often
Don't wait until the annual performance review to tell your secretary you don't like how they answer the phone or greet clients. When you see something that needs to be corrected, address it right away. Also, don't forget to praise your secretary when they do well and go above and beyond for you. A lot of times, secretaries are the unsung heroes of your firm and it's a thankless job. So be sure to show your appreciation.
Explain the Big Picture
Instead of giving small tasks to complete, tell your secretary about the big picture so they know why a task needs to be done and how it fits into the grand scheme of things. Being armed with this knowledge allows them to pivot more effectively and even come up with new ways to accomplish issues that never occurred to you.
Give Them Autonomy
Give your secretary the authority to act on certain decisions without you. If they constantly have to wait on you to approve something, it wastes time and causes unnecessary delays. Allow them to have projects that they control completely to give them a sense of ownership instead of waiting on you to feed them work.
Ask For and Value Their Opinion
Your secretary is the eyes and ears of the office when you're not around. Let them be your sounding board when it comes to employee and client relations as they may have a unique perspective. They can also tell you about office morale or a disgruntled client. Treat them as if they are your business partner.
Have Them Document Processes
You never want to have a situation where your secretary leaves and you have know idea where anything is or how things work. Make sure your secretary regularly documents their processes and shows you where things are and how things work. You don't want your practice to fall apart in case they are out unexpectedly.
Your secretary is one of the most valuable assets you have. Utilize these tips to get the most out of your relationship with them and make both of your jobs more satisfying.