Bench & Bar of Minnesota is the official publication of the Minnesota State Bar Association.

Training Staff

At some point in their career, every attorney takes responsibility for training a new person, usually someone who is replacing an already trained or more experienced member of the staff. Unless one is careful, it’s easy in these circumstances to expect the same level of support from someone who has neither the training nor the experience to provide that support. Following a few simple and straightforward training principles can greatly lessen the time required to train a new person up to speed.

First, consider what you expect from a member of your staff. Take the time to fully analyze what is essential and what is less so. Strip the various tasks down to the essentials and only add more bells and whistles as the trainee grows into the job.

Second, be patient. Treat the trainee as you would like to be treated. Praise in public and criticize in private. Never embarrass the people you work with in front of others.

Third, do not ignore shortcomings. It does the person being trained little good to continue to perform in a substandard manner if they are never told that they are failing to live up to expectations.

Fourth, actively seek feedback from the person you are trying to train. Do not rely upon them to take the initiative to ask questions. They may be embarrassed or think that they should know what is unclear to them without having to ask about it.

Fifth, and finally, be willing to admit your own mistakes. There is nothing more frustrating for support staff than to be blamed for something that is not their doing.

Michael J. Ford

Quinlivan & Hughes PA

St. Cloud

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