When I was in elementary school in Philadelphia, teachers gave two grades (in addition to those for academic courses) at the top of the report card. Those first two grades were for “citizenship” and “work habits.” 

How would your report card look today for the job you do as a financial planner, insurance agent, investment advisor, etc.?  How would you grade your staff?  How would they grade you?  How would your clients and your staff grade you? What is citizenship?

  • Respect others

  • Positive attitude

  • Be cooperative

  • Be on time (equate punctuality with professionalism)

  • Dress appropriately

  • Be an active participant in your firm and in your community. Volunteer yourself. And make charitable contributions

What is outstanding citizenship? It’s all of the above, plus

  • Work independently

  • Be a positive role model

  • Help others; become a mentor

  • Solve problems

  • Always follow the rules

Do you vote in national, state or local elections?  How about voting via proxy statements for public corporation directors?  Remember, you can’t complain unless you vote.

Do you volunteer?  At work? Offer to present training topics.  Our firm has its own charitable foundation. Volunteer to help it achieve its charitable goals. At home?  At your house of worship, local art museum, little league, scouting.  Within the profession.  Become a committee chair and then officer at your local NAIFA, Society of FSP, FPA, Estate Planning Council, etc.

What are good work habits?

  • Be prepared for meetings, well in advance, not the night before

  • Consistently be on task

  • Follow directions

  • Be organized

  • Complete tasks accurately and in a timely fashion

What are outstanding work habits? They include all of the above, plus

  • Give all assignments your very best effort

  • Quality of work exceeds expectations

  • Show initiative: Be creative, but within the rules of ethical conduct.

I straighten the pictures and dust the tops of them.  Ok, that’s more OCD than work habits.  Some of the time management work habits I have learned are:

Touch it once.  Do not answer the door or the phone or email when your focus should be on the form you are completing or the legal document or statement you are reviewing. Set aside time for these projects.

Use it at least three times.  When you design a creative case for client, create a generic case study and write an article about how you opened the case, developed the relationship, and closed it.  Turn the article into a seminar presentation.

Return calls and emails the same day they arrive, even if only to say, “Message received, working on it.”  Then, work on it or delegate it.  Don’t put it off.

After you have printed multiple copies, or made multiple copies on the copy machine, do you refill the paper bins?  Or, do you wait for someone else to do it?  Do you think, “Who’s job is it anyway?”

When you see paper clips or, for that matter, anything else, on the floor in your office, or your client’s office, do you pick it up?  Or, do you leave it for someone else?  Do you say, “It’s not my job?  Leave it for the cleaning staff.”

When you take the last cup, or simply see that there are only a few cups left at the coffee machine or water cooler, do you find more cups?  Or, leave it for the next person.

The New England Patriots had emblazoned on their warmup hats and jerseys, “Do your job!”  One of my pet peeves is hearing anyone say, “That’s not my job.”  In your firm, who is responsible for compliance?  Who is responsible for due diligence?  Who is responsible for suitability?  The answer, “YOU are!!”