In this insightful article, best-selling author Harvey Mackay explains how his “10 Commandments for the Office” will make you feel better at the end of a day. Your challenge is to live these principles out yourself and encourage your staff to do the same. Consider sending this list to your clients as well. Whether a big business or a home-based business, these “10 Commandments” will help them run a happier and more productive business.
10 Commandments for the Office
By Harvey Mackay
It’s just business as usual, day in and day out. The fast lane gets faster. Competition for business and jobs gets meaner. The world gets smaller every day. You’ve dealt with a hundred co-workers, customers, vendors, and the irritating kid who works at the lunch counter. It’s time to go home and unwind.
The traffic jam gives you an opportunity to replay some of the day’s encounters. Regrettably, you wish you would have handled a few things quite differently. How can you make tomorrow better?
My mother always told me, “You don’t have to like everybody, but you do need to learn to get along.”
Over the years, I’ve developed a list, a “Ten Commandments for the Office,” which makes my commute home a little less guilt-ridden. Better yet, it’s improved my commute to the office. If I follow my own advice, I won’t have to spend my time apologizing for what I should have done in the first place. Try it out.
1. Be respectful. This includes respect for other people’s property, ideas and time. Frankly, this commandment should about cover everything. If you are respectful of others, you can usually work out most issues – even if it’s agreeing to disagree. An added bonus is that when you treat others with respect, they are more inclined to return the favor.
2. Follow through. If you promise to do something, do it. No ifs, buts or maybes. No excuses, no whining. You are only as good as your word. There will always be a place in this world for the person who says, “I’ll take care of it.” And then does it.
3. Think before you speak. Don’t say whatever is on your mind, unless you want your mindless thoughts to come back to haunt you. Those ghosts can rise up years later, just when that promotion looks so promising. And while we’re on the topic, remember that how you say something is as important as what you say.
4. Help out. So what if it’s not in your job description. If you have an opportunity to be useful, jump at it. Even if the rewards are not in the form of a paycheck, your co-workers will remember who helped them when they needed it. Taking on a little extra work – or a lot – shows that you are a team player, an employee worth watching.
5. Learn something new every day. It could be a new skill. Maybe the latest developments in your industry. Or just the name of a person you see daily at the copy machine. You have millions of brain cells just waiting to work for you!
6. Pay attention. If you go directly to your cubicle and barricade yourself all day, you’re missing important developments in your workplace. Not the gossipy events, of course, but the really good stuff – new procedures, new ideas and so on. This commandment also covers those occasions when the value of your input depends on your familiarity with the situation at hand. In short, always keep your antennae up!
7. Ignore pettiness. Rise above it, or you will be dragged down with it. There will always be someone who will make a mountain out of a molehill. It better not be you.
8. Be patient. Not to be confused with tolerating incompetence, this commandment covers a multitude of situations.; Someone misunderstood you. A job is taking longer than you planned. You are missing every traffic light. What will you gain by losing your cool? I’m not a patient guy by nature, so I’ve really had to work at this one. If I can do it, you can too!
9. A good attitude is up to you. It takes a lot for the world to come to an end, so don’t act like it’s happening every day. Be encouraging, be cheerful. Refuse to be brought down by minor – or major – setbacks. Bad attitudes are contagious. The good news is that positive attitudes are catching, too.
10. Do your best. Like commandment #1, this should also cover just about everything. No one can ask you to do more.
It’s important to decide early on how you will conduct yourself. Then, when a crisis erupts or challenge arises, you won’t have to think twice about the right thing to do. I’ve always said that perfect practice makes perfect. These rules are no exception. And just for the record, these commandments work outside the office too.
Mackay’s Moral: Some rules are made not to be broken.
Harvey Mackay’s latest book might help someone you know get hired for the job they really want. “Use Your Head to Get Your Foot in the Door: Job Search Secrets No One Else Will Tell You”
In “Finding More Time for Marketing – Part 2,” we looked at ways to cut your time spent on administrative activities. Now we’ll look at a few ways to free up time for marketing by cutting down time you spend on “Operations” which you know better as production activities.
Becoming more efficient on the production side does two things for you:
#2 is key because you (and your staff) must handle more clients in the same 8-hour day. Otherwise getting more clients robs time from marketing activities. When you neglect marketing, the well runs dry and you run out of prospects. Not good. Not fun either.
Whether your practice is large or just getting started, technology correctly used can quickly improve your operational efficiency. One hour saved per day means over 250 additional hours over a given year. Time better spent getting and serving clients.
Some time ago, I had a client with decades of experience, excellent credentials, and happy clients in more than a dozen states. Yet he was a technology newbie to the extreme.
When I emailed him some questions, his assistant would print out the email for him. He would handwrite his comments and give it back to his assistant. She would fax it to my office. My assistant would call me to let me know I had a fax. When I was away from my office, I’d have her scan it in and email it to me. Incredible!
Thankfully, he got a new computer and some training, and soon replied to my emails with another email. And he freed up his assistant for more productive tasks.
Yet don’t fall into the trap of adding technology just for technology’s sake.
A client of mine is a member of the 300 Financial Group which takes a “Goldie Locks” view of technology. Not too much technology, not too little…just the right amount. In 300 Financial’s view, technology should:
You can learn more about 300 Financial’s technology approach by clicking here.
Going paperless helps you in many ways: less office space needed, more productive staff, and less time preparing for client meetings.
One advisor I know went paperless from the beginning of his practice and has instant access to all client communications. And very few file cabinets in his office.
I know another advisor in the same town which has a huge room filled with file cabinets. And support staff which spends many hours every day keeping track of the paperwork and getting everything filed properly.
Obviously newly established practices have the advantage here: no file cabinets holding decades of client records. Yet practices with tens of millions of assets under management gain the most from office automation because your support staff can become far more productive.
Depending on your situation, this may be an incredibly daunting task. Yet the longest journey is begun with the first step so read these articles on ways to get started.
Track your time and see where all the time goes. Decide how much time you need to devote to marketing your practice each week. Then get started on reducing time spent on administration and advising. You’ll free up time for marketing your practice and reap the rewards later.
When I got my first laptop computer back in 1994, I’d didn’t get it without a fight. Not with my wife…my boss.
I’d previously convinced the president that the salesmen needed laptops. Now I wanted one. Joe was adamant that I didn’t need one and they cost way too much. So I kept pushing….
Joe relented only after I told him not to get me a laptop unless he wanted me to work on company business at home, on airplanes, and in hotel rooms. He said, “Okay, okay already. Now get out of my office!”
My productivity did soar as I could work wherever I happened to be. I was unchained from my desk. Finally. If I had to work a 12 hour day I could take several hours of work home with me. Even to the beach.
Yet suddenly many documents and spreadsheets suddenly were unchained from the network. And the server’s automated backup.
I had to back up my laptop myself or risk losing precious data. And eating crow when explaining what happened to Joe. I couldn’t let that happen so I began a weekly practice of backing up my computer every Friday…and during the week if I completed a major project.
I’ve used everything to backup: floppy disks, CD-ROMs, DVDs, thumb drives, external drives, and even backing up to the network drive.
My backup habit paid off a few weeks ago when my trusty Acer laptop choked on an automatic update from Microsoft. Seems my 4-year old laptop couldn’t handle Internet Explorer 8. Fortunately it happened on a Saturday and I had a fresh backup from Friday!
I now am loving my 6th laptop: a Macbook Pro which runs Windows XP whenever I need it.
Mac’s now include a backup program called Time Machine which automatically backs up to an external hard drive. I like this because I no longer need to remember my Friday afternoon ritual. It just happens.
Yet the possibility remains that my laptop and external hard drive could be stolen at the same time and I’d be one hurtin’ dude!
So I added an entirely new layer of backup protection: Online backup.
I use a service called Carbonite which you can read about here. For about $50 a year my documents, pictures, and music files are automatically backed up into “the Cloud.”
It took about 2 weeks to slowly upload over 40 gigabytes of data. Now it’s done and it keeps me backed up automatically, all of the time. No matter where I am. If I am connected to the web any changed files get backed up just as soon as I close them.
Amazingly they place no limits on how much you can back up. And the price includes both personal and business files so I have everything covered.
I’ve tested the service by restoring some files. Very easy and quick.
If my laptop died, I would just buy a new laptop and install Carbonite. Then restore all my data to my new PC. My productivity would be impacted for a while but I’d be back in business in no time.
This is cheap insurance and I strongly recommend you add it to your onsite backup practices.
If you ran into an old buddy at your high school reunion, you’d probably be asked, “So what do you do?”
As an independent financial advisor, you have several ways to answer the question. What comes to mind first?
“I am a certified financial planner.” Or “I am a financial advisor.”
If he was curious to learn more, you might describe your approach to financial planning, estate planning, or risk analysis. You might talk about the financial markets, indexed annuities, or CD rates. You might mention the value of annual reviews and portfolio re-balancing.
This answer focuses on the main operational focus of your firm. It touches on your education, experience and what’s on your business card.
Yet in a big way you’d be wrong!
While you might really rather focus on planning all day long and every day of the week, the reality is that you need to see yourself as a “Marketeer.”
Just what is a “Marketeer”?
A “Marketeer” focuses on defining, reaching and serving his target market. This is job #1.
A Marketeer sees every aspect of his business as a way to enhance (or detract) from defining, reach and serving his targeted market. What does this look like?
Think the last bullet is a joke? Let’s take a closer look at this one.
If you only get one chance to make a good first impression, your receptionist will likely be the person to make it.
Will your clients care if she knows the ins and outs of six major phone systems? Or types 100 words a minute? Or has a degree in business from your local community college?
None of this matters if your receptionist greets your office visitors with a frown or a grunt.
If your receptionist has to “turn on the charm” because her default position is “strictly business” you have a problem in the making.
Your receptionist ought to care enough about people to chit chat while the client waits. Perhaps offers some coffee, tea or water upon their arrival. Ideally she knows what they like to drink and gets it without asking.
This does several things for you:
Of course knowing your phone system inside and out can help your receptionist better connect you to your clients. And typing 100 words per minute can keep your files up to date. And a business degree might bring new ideas into your practice and enhance customer service.
Yet do these things really matter if your receptionist greets visitors with a frown for a split second before the smile kicks in? Or makes callers wish you had a direct dial number so they didn’t need to “bother” the receptionist when they had a question?
In short, your marketing mindset causes you to hire the right person for every job, train them to know what’s really important (treating people kindly and with respect), and the all-importance of supporting the marketing vision of the firm.
When you develop a marketing mindset, you’ll view every aspect of your firm from the eyes of an A-List client. You’ll see many areas to improve:
I think you get the idea. A marketing mindset, once developed, can liberate you from the administrivia which drains time and energy and keeps you from growing your practice and turning your clients into raving fans.
Yes, your business card should say “Certified Financial Planner Professional” or “Financial Consultant” or “Financial Advisor.”
Be sure to give one to your friend at your high school reunion.
But tell him, you “help baby boomers plan for and enjoy a prosperous retirement” or however you benefit your targeted clientele.
You can eliminate a lot of paperwork by replacing your fax machine with an online fax service.
One of my clients has used the Metro Hi Speed fax service for several years. He and his staff love it.
For $25.90 per month he has all his incoming faxes sent via e-mail to his receptionist’s Outlook in-box. During the day, the receptionist routes the faxes to the recipients and attaches client related faxes to the client contact record inside Act! He kept his local fax number so his business cards and letterhead didn’t need to be reprinted.
His “faxes” now are really just e-mails with PDF attachments. You can do the same thing and dump your fax machine.
Because your faxes are already digitized, your service assistant can forward important fazes to you wherever you happen to be. And then attach them to the client record in Act! or Goldmine for future reference.
You can also send outgoing faxes from within Metro Hi Speed. This client uses his main copier/printer/fax machine for outgoing faxes. Click here to find out more about MetroFax.
Of course, you can choose to print them out and stick the pages in client folders. At least you’ve taken the first step toward a paperless office!
Compliance Caveat: Rather than investigate these online fax options yourself, consider giving your compliance officer a call. Your broker/dealer may already have a list of approved Fax Server and online fax solution providers for you to choose from. This will save you valuable time AND make a few points with your compliance officer. Why wait to speak to him when you need an advertisement approved?
Eliminating paper faxes is a big first step toward a paperless office and will save you time from day 1.