“I can’t” versus “I can”

I can in law firm“I can’t” versus “I can” is an important mentality in any work environment. This is true as well within a law firm.

No matter whether somebody is a lawyer, paralegal or other administrative employee of the firm, employees have job functions that they have to perform. The job functions sometimes have to be performed for the benefit of the clients. They also sometimes have to be performed to ensure the smooth operation of the law firm.

Some employees go into their job duties with the mindset of “I can.” In other words, they believe that they can get the job done. Even where difficult, they problem solve and find ways to complete the task. They understand that believing that they can is an important first step to performing their job functions.

Other employees go into important job duties with the self-defeating mindset of “I can’t.” They believe that what they’re being asked to do is not possible. They believe that the requirement or goal is not obtainable. Or, they believe that even if a particular way of performing job duties supposedly worked in the past, that it does not work now.

They might believe that management is puffing about what worked in the past. They might believe that even if it worked in the past, it is outdated. They might believe that they have a better way.  They might not even believe in the goal or job requirement.

When employees believes “I can’t” versus “I can,” all kinds of problems begin to surface:

  • First, employees quit performing important job functions. This can cause the quality and productivity to go down.
  • Second, some employees become insubordinate or creatively disobedient by simply refusing to do what they are asked.
  • Third, when employees believe “I can’t,” this mentality can begin to permeate an entire office or department. When this happens, quality and productivity can go down quickly on a wide-scale.
  • Finally, when employees are firmly entrenched in “I can’t” versus “I can,” they can embark on a mission to prove that they are right about their “I can’t” beliefs. When this is an employee’s mission, the law firm cannot operate effectively.

At the end of the day, as it relates to critical job functions, you need employees who believe “I can” versus “I can’t.” If a truly employee believes “I can’t,” talking to the employee about their concerns (while they are still persuadable) is critically important.  To the extent that you can help them, it is vital to step in early.

But if that mindset takes hold, and the employee cannot be persuaded to perform their job functions as asked,the reality is that you need to bring in employees who believe “I can” versus “I can’t.” Believing “I can” is a vital mindset that you need in any employee.

If you have any thoughts, feel free to share them below.

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