It should be easy to figure out who the boss is and whom, therefore, employees should try to please. But, for various reasons, sometimes things are not as obvious as they seem apparently. Over the years we have had some experiences with employees who either forgot who the boss is or try to slide by using a children’s trick of playing “Dad” off against “Mom”. In the latter instance, sometimes employees have asked me questions rather than ask my partner, thinking perhaps I would be easier to approach or less busy. Problem is, I’m not the ultimate boss, at least not on many aspects of our trial consulting practice. Given the duties we have divided, I am “the decider,” to quote someone once powerful, on some issues, while my partner is that on other issues. As an employee, it is important to know whom to ask. Failing to do so creates new problems for both the employee and sometimes the boss/manager who gets drawn into the situation. It can lead to a wrong answer as well as a bad working relationship. That said, it is important also for owners and employees to remember that the real boss is the customer. Particularly in a service business, the person to be most responsive to is the one who is hiring the firm. We have also had to explain this and train employees to approach, acknowledge, and assist clients. It is not enough to just “do your job” – a big part of any job is ensuring all clients’ needs are met.
Almost everyone who works for a living has a boss. Although I am the co-owner and thus, the boss, of my company, I have many bosses: the clients who retain my company for our litigation research and consulting services. In a service based company, such as mine, it is important for the employees to realize they, too, have many bosses; the people who are responsible for our employees’ paychecks are the attorneys, insurance companies, and other corporations that hire us. There have been numerous examples over the years of my partner’s and my employees forgetting it is our clients, not us, who are responsible for their employment at our company. I have been shocked on too many occasions at the rudeness of our employees, some of whom have ignored our clients because they were too busy performing other tasks, some of whom have refused to speak to our clients on rare occasions when they have come to our office, and one who had the audacity to inform my partner and me that she did not like lawyers, knowing full well that ALL, that is, 100%, of our clients are lawyers! I have never tolerated rudeness in any form, particularly when it comes to the treatment of our clients, who are responsible for my and my company’s livelihood. I have spent countless time counseling employees about the importance of courtesy, particularly when it comes to greeting our clients, ensuring they are comfortable, and in general, being friendly. In our line of work, relationships are key and knowing that, although I am the boss of my company, I have many bosses, all of whom deserve to be treated like the V.I.P.s they are. It is not enough, in my workplace, to perform the technical aspects of one’s job absent performing the human aspects with courtesy and respect for the people who place their trust in my company and me.