April 2021 hasn't felt like a normal month. Most of our customers are reporting back that the culture across the board is 'feeling flat', and there's not one clear thing that's causing it.
There's a lot of work going on in April, especially for our accounting and professional services customers. With the end of the financial year looming, job keeper wrapping up and more, the work hasn't stopped coming in. Overwhelming amounts of work could be one of the causes of this 'flat feeling'.
Of course, we wanted to investigate a bit further. We looked at feedback data across our customers to find the impacts this overwhelming amount of work has had on advisor mindset and productivity. There were three significant movers this month that should be highlighted, compared to March.
The effort I'm putting in is having an impact this week:
April: -9.61% (77.72% - 70.25%)
March: -0.07% (77.78% - 77.72%)
I've been thinking clearly:
April: -8% (73.61% - 67.66%)
March: -0.21% (74.78% - 76.62%)
I'm making a positive impact on our clients:
April: -3.49% (75% - 72.38%)
March: -1.64% (76.25% - 75%)
This is a big shift for these performance factors and deserves to be looked at a bit more. These drops in scores give us two insights:
Across the board, the value to effort ratio people are outputting has dropped.
There is something preventing people from thinking clearly.
Preventing the 'busy snowball effect'
In summary, people are busy, but not being effective. This can be a hard problem to fix, especially when you're too overcome by workload to even address it.
This creates a snowball effect. The more work comes in, the busier you get. But if you haven't been making an impact with the work you've been doing, your ineffectiveness will snowball too. As an advisor, manager or leader, we suggest taking some time to do the following to counter the snowball before it gets out of hand:
Align expectations: Spend 5 minutes per week (or less) with advisors, or to self-reflect, and make sure what's being worked on is having an impact on the firm, clients and employees.
Track progress without micro-managing now that expectations are aligned.
Setup regular cadence of accountability that works for each advisor. 5 mins per day usually works, but in times when you're overwhelmed by work, 15 minutes a week is enough. Keep it consistent.
What we expect to see is a positive climb in these numbers over the next few months as the financial year comes to an end. What we want to drive is a faster recovery rate in these areas, and learning what actions have the greatest impact on that recovery (even the simplest ones, like type: entry-hyperlink id: 3iGKFhSUTFpFtOVmlBcLD).
This will help not only to build more sustainable performance across the industry but also shift advisor well-being and balance as a top priority for firms during their busiest times of the year.