In light of the nationwide COVID-19 quarantine, our social norms have been rocked to the core. Business norms, operations and interactions have dramatically changed, too.
We’re in a digital environment in which live by the oxymoron of “together, apart.”
While the long-lasting national implications of the coronavirus are not yet fully known, you get to decide what the outcome of this time will be for you and your team. Your main concern as a leader should be about protecting your most important asset: your people.
Protecting people right now means helping them find a work/life balance when they no longer have their normal work routines. The lines have been blurred like never before for many people, and it’s not easy to adjust.
How you choose to define “normal” will define the future health of your advisory firm.
As work life and home life have converged, new responsibilities have emerged, as well. In addition to being a client service rep or an advisor, a firm’s employees are now school teachers and caretakers.
Because of this convergence, we have to redefine what is work and what is home.
Home is no longer about relaxation, but then again, it never was. We always have had to clean, do home maintenance, pay bills, and take care of the home environment.
Similarly, the work environment has always had its share of “extra” concerns too; many employees might take time to volunteer for a nonprofit on behalf of the company. It wasn’t necessarily work, but it was attached to the job. Being at work also included social interactions that many are no longer getting at home.
Everything has been turned on its head, and people are stretched. As a leader it’s important for you to take time to encourage the individuals on your team to take steps to define their new reality.
Many individuals are looking for normal. The first step in defining normal right now is to be honest. Be honest with yourself, your team, and your family.
Life is now different; embrace the change instead of fighting it and try to develop new routines that can replace your old routines.
If life is too overloaded to create a true routine, at least strive for a routine within your team so you are working toward something that is defined and repeatable.
Here are three places to exam, work on and share with your team:
1. Start at Home
Get out of your jeans, shave and get dressed in the morning for work, as if you are going to work.
Taking care of yourself and making sure you are starting your day like a professional will help ensure you mindset remains professional.
2. Take Appropriate Breaks
Plan for downtime if you want to feel your best.
This can means meal and snack breaks throughout the day, exercise breaks, or simply changing how you schedule meetings to shorten them and give you time to decompress.
3. Get an Accountability Partner (Who’s Not Your Significant Other)
Your spouse has enough on their plate, too. Find someone you trust within your organization; express the goals and routine you are trying to create and ask them to help keep stay accountable.
This is someone who can listen to you but also encourage you as you work at home alone.
We’re all distracted and thinking about getting back to the old normal, but be careful not to miss opportunities to have fun and be thankful right now.
Each day is an opportunity and can be what you make of it.
Remember what Yoda said about Luke Skywalker in the classic Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back? He said Luke’s mind was always on the horizon, and never on where he was in the moment.
Don’t be like Luke. Live in the here and now, embrace the changes you have experienced, and then work to help others grow during this time, too.
Jarrod Upton, MBA, MS, CFP, is Chief Operations and Senior Consultant at Herbers & Company, an independent management consultancy for financial advisory firms. He can be reached at www.HerbersCo.com.