Gretchen Pisano’s pointer for nailing the pivot and common missteps: Every new day is an opportunity to communicate and support your clients.
How to communicate to your clients while in the midst of a pivot scenario
LEAD WITH EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE:
- Ask your clients the right questions about how they are emotionally and fiscally so you can assess what and who you are working with.
- Communicate to your clients that you're in it with them, and you're not going anywhere. They're not alone. And do this daily!
- Everyone is doing the best they can, and you will share ALL relevant, applicable information as soon as you get it.
- Recognize when somebody, client or coworker, is behaving reactively. Meaning, the individual is having a personal response to their environment. Understand that “they're discharging their fear, their concern, their energy. It might come out as blame, but really it's a discharge of energy they don't know what else to do with.”
- Be forthright with your take on global, financial realities and how they relate to your client.
“The CPA will play a big role in the world's recovery from an economic and financial point of view, and what you're in the midst of is human fear.”
- Thinking that your inability to give clients concrete and certain answers is a personal failure. DO NOT INTERNALIZE THE INSANITY OF A NEWS CYCLE. You cannot give concrete guidance because the world is no longer made of concrete; it’s a lot more like Jell-O, and you are doing your best! And honestly, your clients get that, and what they really want from you is the support of knowing you are invested in them and their wellbeing.
- Hiding behind CPA lingo. When your client asks you a question and you throw a ton of high-level, technical jargon at them, it’s alienating and unconstructive. Gretchen breaks down this impulse as one of self-protection; when you don’t know what to say or how to say it, there’s a tendency to hide behind what you do know. All your client wants is human reassurance and an assessment of what's going on and to know what the best path forward is for them to take. Keep it simple.
- Getting lost in the work of doing and undoing rather than thinking and communicating. Sometimes we get lost in the act of trying to get something done. In the process of doing, we become emotionally invested in the outcome, and when and if the effort doesn’t lead to the desired outcome, we suffer an emotional hit or depletion. We have to be able to pull back from the work we are doing and consult others to determine if it’s time well spent or not.
- Thinking daily contact with clients is too demanding of time and resources. “Shrink the resistance by shrinking the ask.” If calling each of your clients is unrealistic, get creative—consider instating office hours, group client Zoom sessions, host a webcast or even a daily collaborative blog where clients and office workers can add content. Or maybe “you can't talk to everybody…you don't have the bandwidth. But are there a handful of clients that I think it would make the biggest difference to? Or can I automate my calendar and let people book ahead of time and have 15-minute, 30-minute conversations set aside?” There are a variety of ways to make communication either automate-able or bite-sized enough to be manageable. The important thing is that you realize that communication is absolutely fundamental right now.
“Think about holding something with an open hand rather than a closed fist. This idea of just holding the current environment and not needing to make it a certain way, through the force of a closed fist, is how we should treat the world today...I'm recognizing how it is today and that it might be different tomorrow.”
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