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Wearing of the green

JB writes: I have an increasingly difficult relationship with one of my work colleagues and it is getting to the point where I dread meeting him in the office. We both started at the same time and used to be friendly. When I had a really good month recently, he made my life very awkward. What can I do?

At a practical level, I suggest you speak to him and find out what the issue is although he may not have conscious access to it. From what you have said, it could be as simple as jealousy, particularly if you are doing better than him.

Seeing you succeed would certainly emphasise any insecurity he has about not doing well. By asserting himself, possibly in a verbally aggressive way, he is simply exercising control and making himself feel more powerful again. So, in this context, it is not personal.

You can also work on yourself, at a subtle level, as you are in control of your own feelings. Think back to when you were friends and recollect a good time. Choose an image that pleases you, for example, where you were laughing together and he was happy. Focus on it for a while and look for another even better one and another and another. Soon, you will find that your lower thoughts about him – being unpleasant to you and so on – are no longer available.

Keep playing with it until the better thoughts are the overriding ones, so that when you next see him you do not get that adrenaline rush. Instead, you may even feel warm towards him. Be prepared for some positive changes in him, too, as he responds to this subtle change in you.

AT writes: I have been an IFA for five years and I always have lots of business now, which I am really pleased about. But I feel stressed about getting it done and seem to exist in permanent state of crisis management. I have secretarial support, which I share with another adviser, and the administration team at the company do all the business processing. I would say I am reasonably organised as I started life as an administrator. What do you suggest?

First, decide what you should be doing that only you can do. In my experience, that is spending time with clients and making the strategic decisions about what you are recommending and why. The rest you must delegate if you are to reduce your stress levels, increase your business or both.

Delegation means being meticulously organised. I strongly suggest you write up your notes immediately after each client meeting, together with research and administration points that must be actioned straight away.

Make it a priority to meet your administrator each day, preferably twice, first and last thing. Try not to interrupt them throughout the day so they can get their work done or set up some interruption-free times. You both need to be efficient and focused to work at optimum capacity.

As you are sharing an administrator with another adviser, I suggest the three of you meet and discuss how best to work together, for example, alternate days, half-days or set hours during the day. There may be times when one of you needs more support than the other, so arrange some flexibility. Keep a channel of communication open at all times between the three of you.

In an ideal world, your administrator should also be learning and developing their job, as the more product knowledge they have, the better for all. They should be able to do the first draft of your reasons why letters and research anything that is not done by the firm you work for.

Encourage them to take exams and speak to your employer about supporting this, if they do not already. It is essential to keep a challenge in the job, if this person is to be with you for the long term, assuming remuneration works, too.

If your administrator is not capable of being trained into the role of a paraplanner, then they are the wrong person for you at your current level. Clearly, it is not effective for you to pick up all manner of client work which, from the sound of it, you are doing now.

Remember that, when you delegate, you give people permission to make mistakes. But do not check on what your administrator is doing the whole time. Agree timescales and allow them to do their jobs. If you are networked, you can set up work in progress documents which you both complete. Either can refer to it to know exactly where you are with any client.

Finally, if having implemented all this you are still struggling, learn when to say no to some new clients. You can pass referrals on to colleagues. Also, take some secateurs to your client bank.

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