Vanessa Ugatti has some thoughts on how you can create more kindness in your firm.
Coincidentally, as I write this, we are in Mental Health Awareness week and coming to the close of week close of lockdown here in the UK. With any luck, by now, you have got over the initial shock caused by the extent and rapidity of what happened and are slowly finding some sort of equilibrium.
I have spoken with a number of owners of small accountancy practices over the past couple of weeks. If your practice is anything like theirs, you and your staff are probably still busy helping your clients with the myriad of paperwork to access loans, grants and so on, on top of the regular work.
You are probably stretched, stressed and preoccupied. This is likely to be true for you, your staff and your clients.
One of the potential hazards of living through a crisis such as this is that fear is rife. When vast quantities of fear are being pumped out into the atmosphere, it spreads like wildfire.
So your staff will be experiencing heightened levels of fear, whatever their circumstances. It’s even trickier if they are constantly being bombarded by clients who are often feeling very emotional. This means that staff may feel more stressed than normal.
And, if you are feeling fearful yourself, it is likely to lead to decision-making and behaviours that are fear-based, which means that you run the risk of damaging your business, not to mention staff morale.
I do not say these things to worry you; just to bring them into your awareness so you can make a change.
Make staff well-being a priority
What has become abundantly clear to me is that more kindness is needed in business right now. In fact, as I was writing this, the words of Dionne Warwick (shows my age!) came to mind: “What the world needs now is love sweet love.”
Business and love don’t normally go together so it may seem a little radical. Yet business is only ever made up of people so it’s time to wake up to that fact.
How can you bring more kindness (which stems from love) into your business – for you, your staff and yourself?
1) Take time to take care of yourself. Remember the analogy of putting your oxygen mask on first.
2) Make a conscious effort to get up from your desk every couple of hours and move around. Take some deep breaths, preferably in the fresh air, and as you exhale, make a noise of release.
3) Take time to reflect on how you feel. This will enable you not only to understand yourself better but also deepen your ability to understand others.
4) Acknowledge your feelings and accept them. Resistance gives them more power; acceptance helps them dissipate. By doing this, you will also be able to help staff do the same.
5) Come back to the present moment. Stay cool, calm and collected, as much as possible.
6) Think things through carefully and then make rational decisions, without procrastinating, based on logic and the facts you have available, not fear.
7) Be kind in how you speak with yourself. If you make a mistake, do not beat yourself up. Recognise the error, without judgement, and correct it.
8) Be kind in how you communicate with your staff, too. Whether working or furloughed, keep staff updated, engaged and feeling valued. Show them you genuinely care!
9) Foster an atmosphere of openness and encourage staff to speak up if they need help, without fear of being judged.
10) Ask for suggestions from your staff. They will help guide you.
11) Make time for exercise and social activities, even if they are remote working.
Share with staff
Of course, all of the above points can be shared with staff so they can implement them, too. Now is the time when we all need to be as kind to ourselves and each other as we possibly can. Self-care and the care of your staff is not a luxury; it’s an even greater necessity now than ever before.
Finally, you may wish to consider bringing in remote training for your staff or online motivational talks to uplift and inspire staff.
• Vanessa Ugatti, the author of ‘True Worth: How to Charge What You’re Worth and Get It’, helps accountants and lawyers get paid their true worthwhile creating a healthier work-life balance. Email email@example.com or call 0120 743961.
Vanessa will be speaking at the ICPA’s Practice Evolution conference in London on 9 October 2020. For details and to book a place go to https://www.practiceevolution.co.uk