DO YOU KNOW YOUR PARALEGAL’S LOVE LANGUAGE?

Published: January 17, 2022

Our jobs are often demanding and draining. Our personal lives provide meaning and happiness, but come with their own stressors. Health and financial issue abound. Add in a global pandemic and many of us have been stretched to our limit. It is exhausting just thinking about it all.

So maybe we shift focus. This year let’s recalibrate. Let’s focus on finding meaning, joy, and success where we are at right now, including in our jobs.

As a first—and simple—step, we can all focus on making our day-to-day work lives more meaningful. We all want to find meaning and joy in our work, energized to go to the office each morning. We want to be happy. And there are three principal questions that drive employee happiness:

In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise (from anyone) for doing good work? Does someone at work care about me as a person? Is there someone at work that encourages my development?

Marcus Buckingham

Outlined below are a few simple ideas you can try to drive employee happiness and re-energize your team.

do you even know your paralegal’s love language?

Ok, I know one of the love languages is physical touch! Putting that one aside for the time being, do you know your team members’ love languages? What validates them? What do they respond to? Do they respond to words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, or quality time?

On a side note, this is a foolproof system for remembering what the five love languages:Words of

  • Affirmation: Your tacos are delicious
  • Acts of Service: I made you tacos.
  • Receiving gifts: Here’s a taco.
  • Quality Time: Let’s go out for tacos together.
  • Physical Touch: Let me hold you like a taco.

Anyway, figure out your team members’ (work) love languages. Once you know, try incorporating them as often as weekly (remember the three questions outlined above that drive employee happiness) to recognize team member’s good work. As with your significant other, you can effectively appeal to a team member’s love language without necessarily doing anything grandiose, i.e., you DO NOT need to buy hundreds of tacos a year for your “receiving gifts” team member to demonstrate that he or she is doing great work.

Our personal injury law firm is located next to the soft drink shop, Fiz. So I run over frequently to get drinks and “chonuts” for the team. (Apparently churros in the shape of a donut. Who knew?) I try to do that type of stuff routinely, especially for the members of my team that are the “receiving gifts” peeps. It’s not a big deal, but is an easy way to let team members know I appreciate them.

I use these note pads for my “words of affirmation” folks. The messages I write are often profane, but nonetheless affirming.

But what if you are not the boss or not otherwise in charge of a team? You should get to know the love languages of your co-workers. You don’t have to be the boss to recognize the good work your co-workers are doing or to simply make their work life a little more bearable.

huddle up buttercup

Try re-energizing your team this year by re-energizing the start of the workday. Hold team huddles first thing. I hold our team huddles at 9:15 a.m. The start time encourages people to get to work on time and allows them to ease into work a bit.

I shoot for 15-minute huddles. The format is generally three-question, each of which is asked to each team member in turn. The questions are generally something like: (1) what was your win yesterday?; (2) what are you going to get done today?; and (3) a personal question.

The first two questions are designed to add focus to your team’s work-day. They ensure that your team members have specific goals for the day that they can verbalize to the other team members. They also add a measure of accountability. It is embarrassing for team members who cannot report strong wins in morning huddle from the day before. It is likewise embarrassing for team members who cannot articulate a single, solid goal for the coming work-day.  

The personal question is designed for something else entirely. Its purpose is to get to know the members of your team as human beings and to create a strong sense of camaraderie. I usually ask question like what’s your favorite movie; who is your celebrity crush; what’s your guilty pleasure; what song are you listening to on repeat; what’s your favorite vacation; and your most embarrassing moment. As time goes on, you find yourself coming up with questions that are more and more odd, which keeps the huddle fun and light.  

your team is hangry

The first law firm I worked for provided lunch every Friday for the attorneys. I thought it was a wonderful gesture and always looked forward to going.

I have kept the tradition alive at my small firm. We go out to eat every Friday as an office. Sometimes depositions or court hearings interfere, but by and large we have successfully maintained Friday lunches.

They are a great way to bond with one another and also act as a small reward to one another for getting through what are often stressful and difficult workweeks. Plus, that is where we usually learn the best gossip and get the most dirt on one another.

i survived another meeting that should have been an e-mail

Let’s be honest. Meetings are the bane of corporate life. They are inconvenient, eating up valuable work time. And they are generally dreaded by everyone involved, including the person who set the meetings. In the wrong hands, they can be unproductive, tedious, and too long. But they are often necessary to move work and projects forward.

Try doing a few of these things to make them better.

Start with some humor. I try to start our weekly staff meetings with several law-related memes. Usually I get a few pity laughs, which makes the whole thing even funnier.

Bring some snacks. I usually pick up fresh donuts from Deli and Donuts on 2700 South and State for our meetings. That way, even if the meeting is a complete disaster, at least everyone got fresh donuts.

Ask for Participation Beforehand. Before the meeting, assign one or two team members to prepare something for the meeting. Maybe a quick thought. A reminder on firm policy. An update. A short training. Get everyone involved.

Say Something Nice or Don’t Say Anything at All. Hand out compliments as much as you can. If a team members make insightful comments or suggestions during the meeting, let them know in front of the team how much you appreciate their insights.

Keep Them Short. Beat meeting tedium by holding shorter meetings. Maybe schedule meetings for 45 minutes instead of two or three hour marathon sessions. Or better yet, schedule twenty to thirty meetings. Shorter meetings help team members beat cognitive fatigue and overload.

Notes in Real Time. I keep notes in Word in real time on the tv screen for the entire team to see. It let’s everyone focus on the agreed upon course of conduct and refine as needed in real time. At the end of the meeting, I convert it to PDF and immediately e-mail to the team.

It Is Not All  About You. Really It’s Not. So spread the love when it comes to team meetings. Invite different members of the team to run the meeting each week or month. Let them be responsible for developing agenda items and directing the meeting. You might be surprised what you learn and it gives team members an opportunity to grow and learn.  

one-on-one

I know, I know, we are trying to decrease meetings, right! We are. But one-on-one meetings are a different animal from team and staff meetings.

The weekly one-on-one meeting is one of the most powerful tools a team leader has at his or her disposal to re-energize his or her team members.

These meetings are a safe space for team members to set the agenda and express their needs directly. They have the side-benefit of reducing the amount of unscheduled pop-ins needed throughout the remainder of the week, especially if you actively encourage team members to reserve as many of those issues that they can for the weekly one-on-one.  

Shane

Shane Gosdis is a personal injury attorney in Murray, Utah. He represents injured clients across Utah. To contact Shane, call or text 385-429-9960 or e-mail him at s@gosdis.lawyer.

H/T @dietcoke_esquire for love languages post.

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