Proctor : October 2018
45 PROCTOR | October 2018 As a QLS member, you have access to LawCare (qls.com.au/lawcare). We encourage you to use this resource, which allows you to talk to a professional who can help in dealing with strong emotions and reframe the situation. You also have access to QLS Senior Counsellors and the QLS Ethics and Practice Support Centre (see the back page for contact details). Whenever you have a critical conversation (one in which the stakes are high and strong emotions are typically involved), you need to have a framework for the conversation. You need to prepare, and you need to know what you need from the conversation – for example, recognition, acknowledgment, to be heard, to vent or all these – as well as arrive at a constructive solution that works for you, your clients and your organisation. How to discuss workload by Sheila Kushe, QLS Professional Development Manager Here are some steps to help set you up for success to have a critical conversation. 1. Preparing for the conversation a. Facts: In a task list, clearly set out all of your workload, small and big tasks and deadlines. b. Productivity: Is there anything on that list that can be ‘chunked up’ and that you can get through? Is there anything that a colleague can take off you? Can some of the tasks be delegated to support staff? c. Building or maintaining trust: We can typically have difficult conversations and find solutions with our supervisors if we have built mutual trust and respect. If you are new to the firm, or you have a new supervisor, it may be early days and the trust may not be in place yet. Be mindful of this when you enter the conversation. You are also trying to build trust or maintain trust during the conversation. d. Asking for an appointment: Be mindful of how you approach the discussion – your supervisor may not be aware of your struggles, so something as daunting as “we need to talk about my employment” may trigger your supervisor to think you are unhappy/wanting to leave. Make your intention known; “I’m struggling with my workload, can we discuss support options?” This will alleviate some of the unknown for your employer and give them the opportunity to prepare for the meeting as well. e. Time and place: Make an appointment or find a suitable time to talk about your matters (the sooner the better). f. Emotions: Be conscious of your emotions. Practise with a friend or in front of the mirror about what you are going to say in a clear, succinct and rational fashion. g. Outcome: Be clear at the start what you want the outcome to be. For yourself, what do you want from the conversation? What do you want the outcome to be? h. Solutions: Come with possible solutions that you can offer: • Is there anyone who you can team up with to do the tasks? • Can tasks be delegated to someone in the team? • Discuss new internal deadlines or deadlines with the client. i. Rehearse: Practise and rehearse the conversation with a friend. by Rolf Moses and Sheila Kushe Wellbeing 2. The conversation itself: a. Create a safe place: Thank them for their time, ask them if you can discuss your workload. Remember they may not be expecting this conversation and they may be overworked, too. b. Job satisfaction and workload: Express that you enjoy your role and you’re learning a lot and you want to ensure that you are delivering the best quality work for all clients and at the moment you are struggling to do so with the workload, so you want to discuss possible solutions and are asking for their help with finding solutions. c. Receipt of the request: You cannot control how they will react however, providing your request in a rational, logical and calm fashion is the pathway of a professional. You may have hit a raw nerve, so watch the body language and non-verbal cues. d. Facts and options: Explain the facts and also your suggested solutions to alleviate workload. If you have a great supervisor, they will ask how they can help and what support you need from them. e. Gratitude: Thank them for listening, regardless of the outcome. f. Don’t act too quickly: If you don’t get the outcome you need, don’t overreact. Your supervisor may need to process the request. You may get a different outcome from them the next day when the emotion has come out of the situation.