Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Update on the Situation with My Secretary

About six months ago she asked for a raise. I don't remember if I knew this or not. It's possible someone told me. At any rate, it arose after she was assigned to a third attorney, one of our new associates. So, she works for me and two associates. She thought that since she would have more work she should make more money. This doesn't entirely make sense to me because previously she didn't even have enough work to fill her day, and now she still doesn't have enough work to fill her day. It's not like she's showing up at 7 a.m. and staying past 5 to get things done. At least I'm assuming she doesn't have enough work to fill her day, given the hour long personal phone calls and constant surfing of the Internet that goes on over there. (Not really judging, since I surf the Internet at work too at times, but I work a lot longer hours than she does.)

Anyway, at my firm, we pay our secretaries very well. I know this because I am on the compensation committee. Believe me, she is not getting shafted in the pay department. Usually someone would not be given a raise in the middle of the year (we do all that at the end of the year), and our office manager told my secretary this. The office manager wasn't necessarily opposed to the idea of giving her a raise if she deserved it, but she wasn't sure if it was warranted in the middle of the year. My secretary then asked if she could have a formal review after six months (which would be end of August), and would they then consider upping her salary if the review goes well.

Needless to say, the office manager's jaw dropped that she asked for a formal review. We're a firm of about 30 attorneys, so we don't really engage in things like formal reviews. Basically, if you are still working there, you can assume you are doing okay, with a few exceptions. (There are always exceptions to the rule.) My secretary was supposed to get fired about two years ago, but then she had some really bad things happen in her personal life, so we did not fire her then. Thus, she is still here. And apparently thinks she is doing a great job (which is frankly baffling to me given the informal feedback I've given her.) Year end reviews go like this:

Partner: You're doing a great job, keep it up.
Associate: Thanks.
Partner: Your salary next year is X and your bonus for this year is X. You will see your bonus in your next paycheck.
Associate: Great.

The office manager does a similar thing with the secretaries and clerks. To be honest, I have no idea what anyone other than me has told my secretary about her work from year to year. It really doesn't matter -- if she's not making me happy, there is a problem.

Now, I have been keeping track of things my secretary does since about March in great detail because I had planned on sitting down with her to address her many deficiencies, but I wanted hard examples that I could talk her through. I didn't even know this evaluation period was going on until yesterday. So, it works out very well that our office manager came to me yesterday with an evaluation form.

Screw the form. I've got a lot to say with dates, cases, and specific examples to back me up. I had raised issues before with the office manager and other partners about my secretary's performance, so when the office manager came to me she said "Can you believe she asked for a formal evaluation?" she was in shock. Hey, she asked for it -- she's going to get it. At least one of the associates who shares her with me is also fed up. I've given her feedback along the way during all of this, and I'll admit gotten short with her at times because I'm so frustrated. I tell her things over and over again, yet it seems like she doesn't hear me. She doesn't read my e-mails. She doesn't even listen to my voice messages. (Yes, she told me this.) She's a good hearted person and means well, but this is not the job for her, and she is simply not that smart. I'm not trying to be a bitch by saying that, either, because I do like her as a person. She just cannot figure anything out on her own and retains absolutely nothing. You would never guess she's been a legal secretary for over five years. She still needs help filing 90% of the filings I do, and she's probably filed over a hundred documents with me.

Ugh! But I'm not going to get myself all worked up over it. I wrote out a very detailed eight page document to give to the office manager. I told her I would sit in with her for the review if she wants me to. I'm not looking forward to that, but hell, I was planning on doing it anyway. She just beat me to the punch. My secretary does not take criticism well, and she is going to get defensive. This will not be fun, but....she asked for it, right?


  1. Reading this makes me pretty glad I'm not in any sort of management position. I don't do well with confrontation. Good luck with the review!

  2. Oh my...8 page review? That's pretty intense, Good luck with the review. I'm not going to lie, this secretary story is about 70% of the reason I'm following you. Can't wait to see how it turns out!

  3. Oh man... this is gonna be good!