There is no avoiding the fact that many mental health challenges come as a direct result of some of the pressures we feel ‘at work’.  

    Now – before I dive into why this may be the case, as well as sharing a few tips on how to reduce, or better still, eliminate these challenges – I feel compelled to ask one very important question.  

    Are the pressures you are feeling really coming from an outside factor or force, or are they pressures that you are creating in your own mind? 

    We put an incredible amount of pressure on ourselves; pressure which can literally be not only stifling but also debilitating. 

    So, what does this mean for our profession? 

    Well, by nature, financial advisers and financial planners are often guilty of causing chaos. This is often not intentional – and in fact, if you were any other way, you probably wouldn’t be so at your job. Your ability to think on your feet and bounce from one conversation (or drama!) to another (depending on the client!) makes you who you are. But it doesn’t make you the most organised or the easiest people for your teams to support! 

    We should all know by now that ‘para’ means ‘beside’ or ‘alongside’, but sometimes financial advisers and planners can dominate the relationship with their paraplanners and support teams, and too often you dictate the way that things should be done. 

    It is very rare that I meet a financial adviser or planner who has award-winning organisational skills

    This means that I always encourage paraplanners and support team members to take the lead role in setting the standard and deciding how stuff gets done. 

    However, this is no easy challenge for them to conquer. As financial advisers and planners, you are hard-wired and skilled in ways of working that you have maintained for decades, so your team are going to have to stand their ground and prove to you that, as we all know, there are always more effective and efficient ways of doing things! 

    So, what message can you share with your team? 

    Well, the chances are, if they are any good at their job, requests for tasks to be completed will be handed to them thick and fast. Each task is likely to require a different set of deliverables with a different set of timescales, so it is essential that they understand why the task is being requested and what the desired outcomes are.

    At this point, I don’t need to remind you that, once they have the confidence and are given the autonomy to actually do the job you are paying them for, they will thrive in their role and add value at levels you never thought were possible.

    Paraplanners (and natural support people) are doers and people-pleasers by nature but DO NOT under any circumstances ever forget that managing time effectively is an art form. It takes skill, practice and dedication to get it right. It may require a different mindset but it will support each of us in the achievement of every task, regardless of size!  

    But, remember, none of us is super-human. We can’t stop time or give ourselves an extra 48 hours a week, so we must never over-commit and under-deliver on our promises. 

    Sometimes there is simply too much work to do in the time we have been given to do it. No one wins and, even worse, trust breaks down. Be honest and open and work within the parameters that have been set; always do your best but do not overwork yourself; and never, ever take on the work of another member of the team (at any level) if their failure to complete the task stems from a lack of care, skills or ability.  

    So, always remember: 

    • Being busy doesn’t mean you are being productive
    • There is always a more effective and efficient way of doing something – you just have to find it
    • Learn to love lists and structures
    • We are not designed to multi-task or multi-focus – so don’t even attempt it  
    • Always try to start the day with some planning time – set out your stall and get your head around the day to come; decide on the key things you need to do before the end of the day
    • Learn to love a deadline – everyone needs a deadline, so if one has not been set for a task or project you are working on, either get one or make one up
    • Handovers and delegation done at top speed and/or full of gaps are useless. Adequate time should be allocated to handing over key tasks. If you or your team are not clear about what needs to be done or they don’t have all the information or the full picture, I give them permission to kick it back to you until they can move confidently on to complete the work they have been asked to do.  
    • Don’t let other people’s inability to organise themselves, missed deadlines and lack of accountability put unnecessary pressure on you. You are not responsible for doing everyone else’s job - focus on your own! 

    And finally… 

    • If you're feeling overwhelmed with what you have on, take a break – leave your screen, change your environment, go for a walk, grab a drink, grab a healthy snack or simply just stretch it off. One of my favourite stretching routines is from the Egoscue Method

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