New York: “I’m not sure if it’s working in this crazed environment which has been said to be an occupational hazard, but everyone I know seems to be stressed out.” Jason prefaced during the Q & A before asking, “Do you have any suggestions that can help financial advisors reduce stress?”
Jason was on to something. The American Psychological Association reports that virtually half the population has experienced significant increases in stress over the past five years and it’s had an adverse effect on health, work productivity, and relationships. The odds are high that money is part of this stress equation. It’s almost like a “perfect stress storm” for financial advisors.
Instead of providing you with the standard Stress Reduction Fare; setting time aside to relax, eating healthy, exercising, spending time with family, etc., I’m going to take you down what I refer to as the financial advisors productivity path.
The following resonated with Jason and my suspicion is it will do the same for you.
Step 1: Identify Priorities – this might seem obvious but the reality within most high-stress occupations is a tendency to approach everything as a priority. The following exercise usually puts an end to this and gets everyone involved.
- By the end of each work day, each individual creates a 5 to 7 item prioritized ‘to-do list’ for the following day.
- Everyone executes their prioritized ‘to-do list’ starting with item #1 and working through as many prioritized to-dos, if not all, throughout the day.
- Any ‘to-do’ item that isn’t completed, if still a priority, is to be carried over to next day’s prioritized ‘to-do list.’
Step 2: Identify That Which is Within Your Control & That Which is Not – many financial advisors allow themselves to get worked-up over things that they have no control over. Whenever you see a financial advisor, or anyone for that matter, fixating on something he or she can’t control, you’re watching an unhealthy stress surge. So here is a simple drill that we use to help prevent this occurrence:
- Label each item on your prioritized ‘to-do list’…
Ø C – within your control
Ø OC – outside of your control and/or influence
Ø OCI – outside of your control but can be influenced
Institute daily accountability for everyone to control (C) and influence (OCI) what they can, and free themselves from items outside their control and/or influence (OC).
Step 3: “Chatty Cathy” Immunization – whether it’s Chatty Cathy or Know-it-all Karl, it’s important to be able to recognize these insidious performance detractors. They typically talk too much, know too much, and produce too little. Without realizing it, these individuals have developed the bad habit of focusing on things outside of their control. They love an audience and will take everyone down with them.
Ah-ha. I’m sure you get it – avoiding these people is within your control. However, if they’re on your team, strict accountability to Steps 1 & 2 is essential – which was Jason’s case. Chatty Cathy was his long-time assistant, very proficient in her job, but always stirring things up. As I explained to Jason, if unable to reprogram Chatty Cathy – either be prepared to continue dealing with unnecessary stress surges or make a change. Of course, neither of which will be easy for him.
None of this is rocket science but as I reminded Jason, the standard techniques for reducing stress (healthy diet, exercise, sleep, etc.) are all within a financial advisor’s control, and so are these three tips. So let’s reduce stress and increase productivity.