This post is for any professional that wants to improve their mental health and their relationships with others. Essentially this is about you.
I have had my fair share of meetings with accounting and bookkeeping firms (3 years at Xero). In these meetings, the underlying focus is on moving from desktop / server based accounting practice systems to cloud systems.
Whilst training 17 accountants on Xero report templates at a large Sydney CBD based firm, I sensed some unease in the team but could not quite put my finger on it. One of them said they would "look at this after my holiday"............
After that meeting I went and had a beer and follow up email and it dawned on me.
Although the cloud has presented huge opportunities, the cloud has also created some mental health issues.
Well, take a look at the past 30 years. What have you got?
You have "desktop / server" based software.
- CD's posted in the mail
- Serial numbers
- Annual update instalments for payroll
- Updates instalments for new features
- Instalments, instalments, instalments........and with that, the option for a user to add that update to an existing piece of software
All these points relate to the "platform".
The 4 P's accounting / bookkeeping firms
If you remember my other article about the "4 P's of accounting in the cloud" you will understand that "people" are one of the key components of an accounting practice.
The 4 P's are:
- Product - what your customers buy
- Platform - the technology you use to deliver the product
- People - the people who use everything
- Processes - the operations / workflows
With people comes "skill sets" and in those skill sets, comes a sense of personal value, pride and professional competency.
Included in these skill sets is, the key requirement for the professional to be able to use accounting software and meet the expectations of an employer, or customers, or both.
So this skill is pretty fricken important to people, it feeds them and puts a roof over their heads.
We have all "self taught" ourselves some software and felt pretty damn good about it. It is very satisfying opening up a new piece of software and just tinkering until you get it right. It makes you look good to your employer.
Employers may naturally expect you to be able to do this, they may not provide any training at all.
However, with that satisfied feeling usually comes those lingering questions beneath the surface, under the facade:
- Did I teach myself the right stuff?
- Are my colleagues doing this the same way?
- Did I miss anything that could make this process better?
- Am I actually doing this properly?
The point I am making is this, we feel safe when we know that we can access accounting software and there are no updates installed.
It is the same version of software that was being used on Friday when we closed the office for the weekend, or 3 weeks ago before I went away overseas for a break.
So you can login and know that your skill set is of value.
But now that the cloud has arrived, we no longer have that feeling when we login.
We could close the practice at 5pm on Friday and come in on Monday at 9am and find that there was a major release on Sunday, as that is the typical release day, due to there being less users online, you'd think.
With these releases comes:
- A need to possibly change internal processes
- A need to get educated up before you face a customer
- A need to assess any new opportunities or threats to the services we provide
All these potential events creating anxiety in the professionals that use the software. This anxiety creates further thoughts of:
- What will they release next?
- When will they release it?
- What are our other cloud software providers doing?
- How am I going to keep up?
- Am I valuable?
On top of this, these professionals also need to keep up with the ever changing landscape of legislation such as new superannuation / retirement laws, tax laws, accounting standards and financial advice regulations. Which is essentially what they are paid to do, they mitigate compliance burdens and maybe help clients reach and exceed their goals.
Now they have technology changes to deal with.
Empathy with my clients
Sensing all these feelings, as you can imagine, affects the relationships I have with my customers.
Relationships are what keep us all alive.
The sharing of energy.
Imagine a life without anyone else.
Now that I am training accounting firms on Xero report templates, I see many different reactions to the cloud.
I sense the anxiety from team members.
I do try and do what I can to mitigate the impact on their mental health.
My training content is designed to be "light" and "stress reducing" through images and sound. After all, it is accounting software.................I have to do something.
Check out our training here.
This all leads me back to one word that I hope you can take away with you.
Feelings are real and they are justified. There is no need to hide them.
Acknowledgement is an extremely powerful tool for everyone who wants to have positive relationships with people.
Acknowledge someone's pain, acknowledge their truth and see how it improves your relationships.
It all starts at home.
We all have our own stuff, the weight we carry, the burden of experience, the lines on our hands, in our heads and in our hearts.
Who knows this stuff best?
You need your own stuff acknowledged first.
Then you can sense it in others and relate on another level.
- What bothers you?
- Have you talked about it (to someone who listens without comment)?
- Could your thoughts manifest into negative energy?
So have a chat to someone, get that stuff off your chest. Not just anyone, you need to talk to someone who listens, someone who just doesn't go off on a self-centred tangent.
Pick the right person, you may have to pay them. I have, and it has improved my relationships and my life exponentially.
There are heaps of quality service providers out there, such as Beyond Blue.
This stuff is real, it is as real as it gets.
Cheers, have a great weekend.