If a law student is rude to a staff member, insist that the student apologize and make ere he or she understands the consequences of rude behavior in a professional career. Similarly, if an unthinking faculty member is rude, he or she, too, should apologize. When members of the staff know that you respect and protect their dignity, they will be far more willing to respect yours and help you move forward. When chairing (or umpiring) a faculty meeting, work to maintain a culture of both civility and open discussion, and ensure that the more polite people have at least as great an opportunity to contribute as the boldly outspoken.
C. Praise Often Praise can be especially important to a new employee who might be unsure bout how he or she is doing or to a staff member taking on new responsibilities. When there is a new dean, all staff members will be a little uncomfortable until they know that they are valued. Take every opportunity to appreciate staff and faculty. 1 Sometimes a thank you is sufficient. Other times an email will do.
For really good things, a handwritten note will be particularly effective. There will also be opportunities to provide public praise at meetings or gatherings to celebrate particular achievements.A dean is uniquely positioned to show respect every time he or she introduces a member of the staff or faculty. At speaker events, I enjoy introducing the faculty member who will introduce the speaker (making my job title “the person who introduces the person who introduces the speaker”).
This gives me the opportunity to share the faculty member’s accomplishments and prominence with students and lawyers who might not be aware of them. Similarly, alumni events provide the opportunity to introduce the audience to the accomplishments of talented and valuable members of the law school staff.This is a public way to show them your personal appreciation and to help build their credibility in the alumni community. D.
Create Appreciation Events A law school succeeds because some members of the staff, student body, and faculty set a positive tone and make things happen. Finding ways to celebrate these people in a way that brings the law school community together will be an important means for you to say thank you and encourage similar 1 . When you praise someone for a success, be careful not to deflate the praise with an offhand comment.Avoid the “Great job, but… ” Trap bayou can.
For example, “You did a great job planning this event is praise. “You did a great job but was hoping for more people” devalues the praise and turns a positive moment into a negative one. When you meet to plan the next event, you can then talk about how to enhance future attendance.
661 contributions from others. Among other things I have enjoyed is creating an annual staff appreciation luncheon with awards. Members of the staff, faculty, and sometimes students nominate a staff member for his or her extraordinary contributions.
Staff members are asked to fill out nomination forms explaining why the person nominated is special. He or she might be the one to help out when you are overworked or the one who listens with care when you have a family tragedy. He or she might be the person who rightness everyone’s day with a good word. In presenting the award, I am able to read some of the nomination forms submitted for the winner (without revealing the nominator) as well as some of the other nice things said about others (revealing neither nominators nor nominees on these) as a way of sharing our sense of community.The nominations help me, too, to appreciate the often unsung efforts of the good citizens. Additionally, the nominations can be the basis for a personal message down the road.
I have held student organization recognition banquets for the same reason, bringing together law view, moot court, trial advocacy, student government, PILL, WI_AS, BALSA, and other organizations for a year-end banquet at which they can salute their leaders in front of the greater community. I present Outstanding Service Awards at this banquet to those student leaders who have made a difference.A Public Service Recognition Reception supplements these efforts by letting us recognize the many who volunteer for the public good. Some schools do more. In a 2004 Dean’s Essay, for example, Dean Dairy Dickerson shared details on Stetson’s admirable staff recognition and appreciation programs. 2 Designed to support her efforts to increase staff recognition and morale, the program includes an employee newsletter, special programs for staff, recognition and service awards, and gift certificates to recognize good work. Recognizing faculty is also important.Publicizing faculty achievements, scholarship, and service allows students, alumni, staff, and other faculty to appreciate them and will enhance faculty effectiveness and credibility.
E. Deal with Criticism Openly and Sometimes in Private In every community, there are people who are critical of new ideas, especially those of a dean. When the criticism is raised in public, it is important not to be defensive, but to welcome all input. We all want to be part of a community in which ideas are freely exchanged and disagreements do not leave the meeting room.Sometimes, those who raise questions are the most valuable people in the room because every idea can be made better and there may be more effective alternatives that can be explored. When the criticism seems more than idea-based, however, it is often both disarming and effective to visit the critic in his or her office and share ideas. Beginning my first deanship, encountered a senior and accomplished faculty member who was rumored to have been a thorn in the side of the previous dean and who seemed almost angry in the tone of 2.
See generally Dairy Dickerson, “Staff Matter(s),” 36 U.XII_. L REV. 47 (2004). 8/15/2011 2:46 PM 662 some of his remarks at faculty meetings. I visited him in his office to discuss our apparent disagreements and to let him expand on his ideas while I asked follow up questions.
At the end of our conversation, I explained where I disagreed, why was going forward, and my hope that we could agree to disagree on this one item and still have a good working relationship. Rather than reacting poorly, he was grateful that I took the time to hear him out, and we developed a friendship of mutual respect in subsequent years.The meeting also gave me the opportunity to learn about some difficult personal challenges he was going through, and I learned how to be helpful. Had I labeled him an “enemy/’ in my mind, I never would have gotten to have such a friend. Although not all efforts will end so well, they will let you rest easy in the knowledge that you have done all you can do. F. Provide Guidance in Private Just as there will be times for praise, there will be times when you need to elf people do a better job. Even here, you can be nice without being weak.
If you criticize a person in front of others, you will create resentment and barriers to communication. If you meet privately, explain your perception and expectations, and give the person a chance to respond, you will have a far better chance of improving performance. We are all quite sensitive to criticism, even when wilderness.
Handling such moments well is truly an art. 3 Sometimes, the problem will be a simple one of miscommunication. Other times, it may be a problem requiring better efforts.If you can introduce he subject with something like “It seems to me that you’ve been having problems with What can you tell me about this? You may learn things that will make you glad you did not start out with a more hostile or accusatory tone.
There have been times, for example, when I have been tempted to start a meeting With a very critical tone, but then learned that the person was dealing with an illness or a family tragedy. In such cases, I have been very happy I did not begin on a judgmental note which would have blocked communication. Instead, was able to express support and work with the person to create a productive solution to the work issues.For those situations that do not involve personal revelations, you will want to end the meeting with a clear agreement on future steps.
In serious situations, you will want to memorial the agreement by providing the person a short memo confirming what is expected. Even in such situations, a tone of respect is good: “Thankful for meeting me to discuss recent delays in I appreciate your willingness to deal with this problem and understand you will be in the future. Let’s meet again in six weeks to assess our progress. ” For the very serious situations, of course, we need to convey the seriousness and potential for 3.I think most of us remember words of criticism, especially from those we respect, far longer than we remember words of praise. It can help to begin the conversation with something positive to praise, which can then be followed with a transition such as, “However, I’m concerned about leading into a two-way conversation about the situation and its solution.
If it is possible to conclude with another message of praise and a sense Of constructive direction, the criticism will more likely be deemed constructive. Spring 201 1] 663 discipline or discharge.Even then, though, we can find a way to include a message of “l want you to succeed.
Positive outcomes require positive attitudes. G. Extend These Attitudes to Mid-level and Hourly University Staff A law school within a University must rely on others.
Middle-level and hourly university staff in departments such as personnel, payroll, public relations, and bookkeeping are all our partners in serving our students. Many of their departments have suffered cutbacks and are understaffed. Many of their staff members are underrepresented and often criticized by those they serve.Some work in a political environment, not unique to universities, in which some people rise to managerial ranks by being subservient and respectful to hose of higher rank and bullies to those in lower ranks. The law school can develop a unique reputation and working relationship in such an environment. In some universities, we benefit from an atmosphere of low expectations in which they expect the law school and its people to be arrogant or to demand special treatment. Although we will sometimes need special treatment, we can impress and stand out by showing respect and consideration.We can begin every request by thanking them for prior help and acknowledging that we know how busy they are.
We can engage them in personal conversation and find out who they are. We can remember their names and try to meet with them in person sometimes, rather than sending emails and memos to faceless strangers. When a staff member does something well for us, we can send a detailed thank you with a copy to the person’s supervisor. When we call or see them walking, we, unlike many of their constituencies, can be friendly and cheerful.