The day after a research day is not a holiday

Conducting mock jury or focus group research is hard work. I am the first to admit this. After working as a jury/trial consultant for 30 years, I know everyone who works with Magnus does a great job, for long hours, in difficult environments, with demanding clients. I get it. I really do. I am right there, working alongside my team, for the duration of the research day. Once the research day is over, and we return to our homes, either after driving or flying near or far, the majority of our work has only just begun. I liken the research day to the data collection phase of an experiment, after which the hard work, including data analyses and interpretation, followed by report preparation, takes place. The research day, therefore, is not the end of our work; it is the mid point after which the important work happens. Some of Magnus’ employees have not understood this fact of our lives. These employees have asked to take a day off work after the research day, to rest from having to work hard. Other employees make the huge mistake of complaining to me about how tired they are, how they did not sleep well in their hotel bed, and how much they missed their cat/dog/wife/whatever. When these reactions occur, it’s as if I am Robert DeNiro in “Taxi Driver,” with my reaction akin to “You talkin’ to ME?”. I was there too, people! I worked just as hard, for just as long, as everyone else, including, of course, our clients, who expend considerable effort preparing for, then participating in, our research day. Everyone needs a break, but at Magnus, breaks are taken when there are no client deadlines to be met. The day after the research day is not a holiday. It is a day in which there is much to be done on our clients’ behalf. Fortunately, our current employees understand the importance of completing our work timely and with excellence, such that, while all of us are tired on the day following a mock trial or other research project, we report for work, ready and willing to get the job done to the best of our ability. I love holidays, time off, and relaxing, but not when there is work to be done.

It is interesting, and often frustrating, working with new hires whose perspectives on work have been formed in less demanding environments, if they have even worked in a professional environment. The day(s) after research are critical for assimilating the data collected, the videos uploaded, and addressing client concerns which emerged on the research day. As tired as we are, it is not a day to relax; that will come once the report and other deliverables go out the door (or get posted on the client portal). Importantly, the day after research is a day for organizing and ensuring that any baton one is carrying is passed on to whomever needs it next, without delay. For example, getting the jurors’ surveys scanned so that the research associate who has to conduct the initial data analysis and do chart preparation can do it as soon as possible so that Dr. Pigott is not kept waiting to see the data. As employers, it has been frustrating working with employees who do not share a focus on the client’s needs in the way we, the Magnus’ owners, must. Therefore, employees who are poor self monitors and/or unable to figure this out for themselves must be counseled accordingly. This can be a very awkward discussion. I want to say to them, “Are you crazy for wanting to slack off today?” But, I have had to try to be tactful to keep the person on the task at hand without offending them. Of course, some newly hired employees have not been able to learn, or learn fast enough, about the totality of their jobs and the importance of client focus to survive their probationary period. Sending the message, hopefully unintended, that one, as an employee, is not dedicated to client service is not a good one to send to the boss. Having to counsel employees about this is not a good sign of their likely success. I have spent almost all of my working career trying to ensure that my clients are satisfied. Whether as a photographer, or, for the last 25+ years as a trial consultant, I know that my income is based largely on keeping clients happy. That seems automatic to me. So, it has been a surprise when we have faced the situation when employees did not understand this concept. Rather than their following our lead, a few have pushed some limits, and thankfully, they moved on, or were encouraged by Melissa and me to do so. When we find employees who get this, we rejoice!

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