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The home front
The key to managing a successful strategy for your team to work from home is to maintain a structure while accommodating staff members’ personal needs
afternoon, which “allows me to check in with everybody, give a little update and ask each of them to share how they’re doing, either personally or profession- ally. Good news first, and then down to business.”
Levitt says that some advisors may choose to match their team’s virtual rou- tines to the routine they had established when they were working in the office, pro- viding staff with a familiar structure: “If you were having a weekly meeting anyway, keep that going, but just do it on a video [call].”
Levitt suggests that if your team has the capability to do video calls, your staff should be encouraged to participate that way rather than by phone: “Everyone is more engaged that way; they’re not doing other things.”
Virtual meetings should have an agenda, and someone should be asked to keep minutes or provide a summary, including action items, Levitt says. “And [the meetings should] start on time and end on time,” she says. “I’ve seen a couple of instances already where that’s not hap- pening, and people get really frustrated with that."
Gilbert also believes in the value of advisors communicating with team mem- bers by video: “Your staff needs more than just to read your emails or even to hear your voice [on the phone], but to see you in action as well,” she says. “Because what happens with an email is that I read it with my internal voice, and if my internal voice is worried or concerned, that’s how I’m going to interpret the words.”
You may have to adjust or adapt your
Advisors who ignore the trend toward ESG investing do so at their peril.
Shaun Darchiville has been in the investment industry for almost 33 years, and
he plays a mean guitar.
He describes himself as a “young old-schooler.”
staff members’ schedules to account for individual needs and challenges, particu- larly associates and assistants who may have young children at home or who have to take care of elderly family members.
“Work with [your staff] to create blocks of time when they are working, and blocks of time when they are with their family,” Gilbert says.
And for staff members with kids who are home because of school closures, a little patience and understanding goes a long way.
“One of my clients, the other day, had the kids come say hi to me for a minute before our video conference,” Levitt says. “Once [the kids] saw what she was doing and figured out that it was boring, they left. They were just curious; they wanted to see who Mommy was talking to.”
Frank Di Pietro, assistant vice presi- dent, tax and estate planning, with Toronto-based Mackenzie Investments in St. Catharines, Ont., says balancing par- enting a young child with work was one of his trickiest challenges when he began working from home three years ago.
“We have rules at home: if my door’s closed, you can’t just walk in because you don’t know if Dad is on a phone call or in a meeting,” Di Pietro says. “That was tough at first, but as time went on, my son learned when he’s allowed to come in and when he can’t.”
You also should remember to check in with team members individually. For one thing, this allows you to find out if staff
l BY RUDY MEZZETTA financial advisors have long
understood the critical importance of keeping their team members focused and engaged. Today, with you and your staff working from home to fight the spread of Covid-19, the challenge in keeping asso- ciates and assistants positive, motivated and working well together has never been greater.
“In this time, [when] everyone is feeling a little scared, isolated or a just a bit wor- ried, I want to make sure that my team is in a good frame of mind, first and foremost, so that we in turn can be pillars of strength for our clients,” says Maili Wong, executive vice president and senior portfolio man- ager with Winnipeg-based Wellington- Altus Private Wealth Inc. in Vancouver, where she leads a team of six.
Business coaches and industry execu- tives agree that a key element in helping your business thrive during this uncertain time is establishing a sense of structure and routine while being adaptable, and providing staff with the opportunity to
manage family or health issues.
“Help create the boundaries for everyone on the team, because other- wise they’re pulled in every direction all the time,” says Sara Gilbert, founder of Montreal-based Strategist Business Development. “Once everyone has a schedule that fits with their current reality, that will bring back a sense of
Another key factor in maintaining
team cohesion is communicating effect- ively and connecting with staff on an ongoing basis, both as a group and as individuals, says April-Lynn Levitt, busi- ness coach with The Personal Coach in Waterloo, Ont.
“There’s probably no such thing as too much communication right now,” says Levitt, who suggests that contacting staff regularly will help prevent misunder- standing and miscommunication and allay anxiety and fear.
Wong instituted a team huddle via video conference for every morning and

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