The Five Great Lessons of the Pandemic

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Readers,

Like most people, I have found myself working much, much more during this virtual world. It’s a pleasure to work with the variety of incredibly talented people in our profession. I feel blessed every day to do what I do for a living!

This week I am taking a break, finally, and going on vacation with my family, so in place of questions that might arrive – which will be answered next week when I return – I will share some of the most important take-aways I’ve learned from my advisors and the larger firms during this virtual experience:

1. Many advisors believe their skill lies in the “face-to-face.” If they can’t see the person and read the body language, they can’t connect in the same deep way with their clients.

This is simply not true.

My firm has done more than 50% of its client work for many years over the phone; in many cases it was solving very important issues without ever meeting the client in person. If you practice excellent listening skills, ask great open-ended questions, express a sincere interest in others and do not multi-task while the prospect, client or COI is talking to you, you can have a very deep and bonding relationship virtually. Do yourself a favor and don’t tell yourself that the in-person matters and if you cannot have it, you are missing out. Have these in-person meetings when you can, but don’t delude yourself into thinking you are “on” when in-person and not so much in the virtual world.

2. Communication always needs work and focus. Yes, the coffee discussions in the break rooms, the drop-in to someone’s office and the grab-everyone-get-into-the-conference-room approach helped us to have those ad-hoc, real-time conversations, and virtual has made this difficult. However, I’ve been doing this work a long time. As long as I have been interviewing firms both large and small, I’ve heard “communication is poor” as one of the major obstacles. On a good note, the virtual world has forced a bit more of a focus on how to have clear, ongoing communication but when your team returns to the office don’t assume communication will just pick up and you’ll be back to sharing informally without need for formal and scheduled interactions. Communication – whether in our personal or professional lives – takes work. When you return to the office, it is going to be a bit strange for a bit. Right at the outset make communication your focus so you are set up for success. I particularly like communication ground rules where teams have an agreement in writing, everyone signs it, and someone is charged with ensuring implementation.