Archive for category: Human Resources

In the diverse landscape of a professional firm, understanding the nature of your employees is key to fostering a thriving work environment. By using the simplistic outline below, it can be easy to quickly identify who is contributing the most to your team. While ‘puppies’ and ‘stars’ contribute positively, two types often pose significant challenges: ‘anchors’ and ‘bandits.’


These employees have low core values and skills, contributing nothing but draining resources. Their presence can demoralize dedicated team members and impede growth. Removing ‘anchors’ is essential because they:

  1. Drain Resources: They consume time and energy without contributing to the firm’s goals.
  2. Lower Morale: Their lack of contribution and commitment can demoralize others.
  3. Impede Progress: They can slow down projects and hinder the development of more promising team members.


Although skilled, their low core values negatively influence the team. They may produce results, but at the cost of the team’s integrity and cohesion. Here’s why transitioning away from ‘bandits’ is vital:

  1. Infect Team Culture: Bandits can corrupt the work environment, leading others astray.
  2. Risk to Reputation: Their questionable ethics can harm your firm’s reputation.
  3. Short-term Gains, Long-term Losses: They might deliver now, but their approach can lead to significant problems down the line.

Action Steps For Anchors and Bandits

  1. Identify and Address: Regularly assess your team to identify these types. Once identified, take appropriate action.
  2. Invest in Training: For those with potential, like ‘puppies’, invest in training to develop their skills and align their values with the firm’s.
  3. Foster a Positive Culture: Promote a culture where high core values and skills are recognized and rewarded.

Who Do You Need On Your Team?


High Core Values, High Skills, High Contributors


  • Exceptional Performers: Stars excel in their roles and consistently deliver high-quality work.
  • Positive Influence: They inspire and empower team members, elevating the entire team’s performance.

Managing Stars:

  1. Empowerment: Give them autonomy and challenging projects to keep them engaged.
  2. Recognition and Reward: Acknowledge their contributions to motivate and retain them.
  3. Leadership Roles: Utilize their skills and values to mentor others and lead by example.


High Core Values, Lower Skills, Trainable


  • Eager to Learn: Puppies possess a willingness to grow and adapt.
  • Aligned with Core Values: They share the firm’s ethos, making them ideal for nurturing a positive culture.

Managing Puppies:

  1. Invest in Training: Provide skill development opportunities to enhance their capabilities.
  2. Mentorship Programs: Pair them with more experienced employees (‘stars’) for guidance.
  3. Monitor Progress: Regularly assess their development and provide constructive feedback.

The Importance of Balancing the Team

Fostering Growth

Encourage puppies to grow into stars through training and mentorship.

Phase Out Negatives

Gradually remove anchors and manage out bandits, replacing them with more positive influences.

Culture of Excellence

By focusing on nurturing puppies and leveraging the strengths of stars, you can create a culture of excellence and integrity.

Final Thoughts

In managing your firm, recognize the value and potential of each employee type. By strategically developing puppies into stars and reducing the influence of anchors and bandits, you create a more robust, productive, and positive work environment. This approach not only enhances immediate productivity but also sets the stage for sustainable long-term success and a strong, value-driven company culture.

Remember, the path to a successful future lies not just in immediate results but in building a team aligned with your firm’s core values and long-term vision. Let’s work towards a future where every team member is not just a contributor but a champion of your firm’s ethos.


Onboarding, defined as the action or process of integrating a new employee into an organization, is a largely discussed topic today.  Google it, and you will find there are over 27.5 million results.  Why has it become such a large part of our culture?

Onboarding is more than just a “warm and fuzzy” PC practice of expecting everyone to like everyone and be singing kumbaya.  It is a practice that is very important to your business.  Turnover is expensive.  Training is expensive.  And, in today’s market, good, qualified employees are extremely difficult to find.  When you are lucky enough to get a great hire, chances are you had to pay a recruiter a hefty sum to find them, and the last thing you want to do is lose them after the investment of recruiting fees, training costs, and the slow productivity while they get up to speed.

The results of onboarding are not just subjective.  They are also quantifiable.  A good onboarding program has been shown to result in better job performance, greater commitment to the organization, reduced stress, higher job satisfaction, and better retention.  The cost of hiring a new employee averages $65k, and it takes an average of 5 months of full-time employment to bring new hires up to full productivity.

So how does one successfully onboard an individual for successful integration into the firm?  For starters, onboarding begins well before the employee actually starts their employment.  If you wait until their first day on the job, you have waited too long.  Engaging an employee in the onboarding process before his or her first day not only helps them get a leg up on the process, but it can actually mean the difference between them starting and not starting at all.  With competition for good people being what it is, it is not uncommon to lose a new hire to a better offer before they even start – oftentimes due to a better offer from their existing employer.

Make sure they are so excited about joining your firm that they wouldn’t even consider another offer.  You can start by creating an onboarding platform that can be shared with the new hire before their start date.  This platform can include instructions for their first week, forms that they need to bring with them, notes on who their peer mentor(s) will be, information on company culture and core values, and even a “who’s who” of existing attorneys and staff in the firm, complete with photos so that they have some idea who they will be seeing on their first day.  It should also have a checklist for all of the training they will need when they start, and anything else that needs to be completed by a new hire.  This checklist will ensure that nothing falls through the cracks in getting them up to speed.  A Trello Board works great for this process.  It is a free online platform, and you can copy the firm’s onboarding Trello Board for each new hire and make it specific to them.  The Trello Board can be shared with anyone responsible for the employee’s training.

In addition, phone calls to the new hire on at least a weekly basis to make sure they don’t need anything and to answer any questions that may have come up for them can go a long way to show you care.  When they arrive, having a clean work space that has been set up with any supplies they may need and a computer that is ready for them with their passwords and software ready to go will go a long way to show that you have made an effort on their behalf.  We have all been in situations where we inherited someone else’s mess – don’t let that be your new hire’s first day experience.  There may be a mess for them to clean up out of necessity, but that doesn’t mean they have to be greeted by it on their first day.

Ensuring the successful onboarding of a new employee is not difficult if you have the right systems in place.  With a little planning, you can have a platform in place that will ensure every new employee receives the appropriate welcome and training that they deserve.

To be the first to be notified when our Human Resources Basics for Law Firms Course has been published, email