Everyone who works had a first day on the job. A first time to interact with customers, a first sale, a first something. For my partner and me, when new employees are hired, they are trained and they ultimately participate on their first jury research project. New employees cannot be expected to know enough from the office based training to get through a research day without supervision or additional, on the job training. Therefore, we make sure that all new Research Associates or Research Technicians who are involved in a research day attend several projects prior to “being on their own” in a shadowing role with someone more experienced. We know better than to put them in their critical role without adequate training. That said, in the past 20+ years of having employees, some have been insecure and very aware when they are “on their own” for the first time. Their lack of confidence has sometimes been evident to us. But, because we are supervising these employees, we know that the client’s needs are not being impacted by the employee’s relative inexperience. However, we realized early on that it is important to train employees to try to disguise their relative inexperience and to never say, “this is my first project.” Employees are not told to lie about their experience, only to not carelessly announce “this is my first project,” needlessly alarming a client and hurting their confidence in the our ability to help them. We all do new things. We still try new methodologies and do research on new types of cases (though we always believe we have heard it all in the past 25+ years, we are sometimes surprised when something new is a factor in a case). With training, experience, education, and confidence, new is not bad – it is an opportunity to grow and learn. But, there is no reason to broadcast that this is a new gig to anyone!
Magnus Research Consultants has employed many people who are working in their first professional job following their graduation from college. Some of our employees have worked during high school and college, while others have never been employed prior to working for Magnus. David and I have spent considerable time over the years coaching these eager, but inexperienced, employees on numerous things that are not directly related to their job performance, for example: (1) appropriate attire when in the presence of clients; (2) the need to purchase a briefcase instead of carrying work supplies in their school kid’s backpack; (3) the requirement of checking out of their hotel sleeping room prior to check out time; (4) proper conduct in an airplane, train, taxi, or car service; (5) how to pack our equipment and their personal belongings when flying on an airplane, instead of driving, to the research site; and (6) table manners. Some of our employees are more easily coached than others, but the most difficult aspect among our “life coach” duties has been training them on how to maintain a calm, cool, self assured demeanor. Having worked in the litigation consulting industry for almost my entire career, I know something is going to go wrong on every project on which we work, despite our best efforts to have a perfect day. For the inexperienced employee, who is often too young to have life experiences to use as resources for handling difficult situations, conveying to our client that everything will be okay, via one’s overall demeanor, is a daunting challenge. On the other hand, many times, the impressive array of equipment we have, combined with the high caliber work we do on behalf of our clients, is awe inspiring to the point the inexperienced employee’s expression is an easy to read indicator of “Wow! I’ve never seen anything like this before!”, which is another extreme reaction we train people to avoid. I usually ask new employees if they play poker, and if they don’t, I ask them if they know the meaning of “poker face.” Maintaining an even temper in the presence of both amazingly good things and frighteningly bad things is a skill many people do not possess when they begin working for Magnus but one, if they are successful in working for us, they soon develop.