Managing the “Street Lawyer” in the Care Environment

We need humans to care for other humans.  We are all different in one way or another, busy being better, fighting toPIC - THE STREET LAWYER accomplish our priorities but all flawed.  Sometimes these flaws reach a different level of severity and if not monitored can cause lots of grief for the care environment, including when you hire the “street lawyer”.  Now we are not referring to the charitable hero of the John Grisham novel, which by the way was a great read.

We refer to that direct care worker who knows, or wants you to think they know, every possible administrative rule, legal procedure, legal maneuver and everything else affecting the care environment.  Of course this knowledge base they feel they have has not catapulted them to business ownership so they can set and enforce their own rules.  However, in their mind they still feel an air of superiority over others in the workplace and often see more wrong than right,  (glass half-empty syndrome) often masking their internal fight with what appears to be a really generous and compassionate approach to work.

The “Street Lawyer-Drama King” Can be Managed and Their Trouble Causing Avoided

The problem with this personality type is that they thrive on the creation and witnessing of drama in a variety of ways.  This includes a desire to get others to follow their immature lead, making false or baseless regulatory complaints and all the while never finding anything worthwhile to say about others who share the workload.  In their minds they are the hero and this is the case in their thinking even if their past is no more than a series of one unfinished goal after another, one failure after another.

So how do you manage the street lawyer in the workplace to ensure they do not create problems for your business?  Here are a few strategies:

  1. Be sure and demonstrate how rule focused you are.  Stick to proper procedure and while no one can avoid every mistake, never give them a legitimate basis to complain based upon your negligence.
  2. Manage with high visibility.  Ensure supervision keeps a regular eye on this person, not to intimidate but to avoid their developing a comfort associated with the thought that the “cat is away, so the mouse can play”.  Remember the “street lawyer” is often in denial about their own shortcomings, industriousness or lack thereof and will be the first to lie in documentation to give the impression they are accomplishing more than they are.  They need to be closely supervised.
  3. In complaint related conversations, always take them back to the published, regulatory rules governing the business to let the air out of their “this is not right” attitude
  4. Perform and maintain regular, written evaluations, highlighting their positive accomplishments, while not ignoring deficiencies including if they misrepresented anything in their work documentation or if they are alienating coworkers with their attitude.  This is important just in case you have to terminate them for poisoning the work environment.

The care business is hard enough without it being potentially destroyed by the street lawyer. If you manage them properly, you might save yourself and your care business lots of grief and, who knows, maybe help an internally negative person to see the error of their ways.

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