February 21, 2009

Good Cop, Bad Cop

When we handle situations in our firm with regards to indiscipline and even management issues, my partner and I, the two persons who has full control on administration, have developed this habit which is infamously used by cops in movies. Whether it really happened in real life or not is immaterial. It is just our way of shifting the blame of being the bad boss from one to the other as our employees then will take precaution against taking us for granted. They will also wouldn't be able to say that one of us is biased towards them or just wouldn't listen to reason. We sometimes are used to it that when one of us really feel negative on one subject, we let the other say the positive thing about the matter.

What is this management style actually do? In a good cop, bad cop situation, one of the cop who interrogate the suspect will be so angry with the suspect that he/she will start to make threat and demand the suspect to reveal the whereabout of the loot or the victim. In some extreme situation, the bad cop will already have the suspect in his grip and will already beating the guy like a punching bag. The good cop will then step in, just at the moment the bad cop nearly hit the suspect or stop the bad cop from killing the guy, will ask the bad cop to go out of the interrogation room and sit down in front of the suspect. He/She will then proceed to talk nicely to the suspect and said that he/she is actually on the suspect's side. Usually the suspect will buy the story and tell his deepest secret.

Although real detective work wouldn't be as easy as this, or maybe much easier, you might wonder on how do my partner and I apply it in managing our 15 strong legal firm. We are actually not believers in suffocating our staff with rules. They are allowed to have breakfast whenever they feel like it. They are allowed to have smoke breaks but must limit it to once every session (either morning or afternoon). They are allowed to take time-off to settle personal matters. They can take longer lunch break if necessary. I don't think there is a more lenient bosses than the two of us. We also know when we are being made fools hence that is the time we tap our acting gene to get the best result. And sometimes this skill is used during appraisal or negotiation of terms with our other associate/partner. And when we do it, we are heartless as any lawyer could be in that situation.

We usually open up the discussion on how or what is the issue at hand. We also propose them a solution which my partner and I would have agreed beforehand to be the best solution. We would then hear out the person's take on the matter. If, and that is a big if, there is a need for one of us to show his or her displeasure on the solution, one of us will disagree on it and the other one will try to find a reason to like it. What do we accomplish from this bad acting? The person who is on the other side will then approach the one who is the 'good cop' and will pour her or his out to him or her making us easier to come to a decision on the matter. 

Another time it is applied is when something both of us have agreed to disagree but only one of us will tell the whole office of the decision. For a few weeks or months, that one person will hold the esteemed or cavoted title as the Bad Boss, which is normally bestowed on most boss around the world, which I am proud to be a part of. I still think we are better than a friend I know who owns his own legal firm who likes to tell his staff, I have my name on the nameplate outside, when you have yours, you can decide on the matter according to your whims and fancies.

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