There are times when we’re recording an online Assembly or bitesize video or dedicated podcast episode and we just think OMG EVERYONE IS GOING TO ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS.
And that’s the case with this interview with consultant and founding director of About Consulting Group, Jon Dunckley.
Because this podcast is all about neurodiversity.
(Its origins lie in this comment by Planner12 posted at The Big Tent last year.)
And, as Jon (who is autistic) says very early on in the episode, neurodiversity matters to me, you and everyone.
After all, we each have a way of thinking that’s unique to us. We all occupy our place in a neurodiverse world.
But if the way we think is plotted on a spectrum, most of us would be considered ‘neurotypical’.
Yet plenty of us – at least 1 in 10 in the UK – function, learn and process information differently from the neurotypical.
Neurodifference and work
We may be neurodifferent but, despite thinking differently, we’re expected to adapt and succeed in a world that’s geared towards neurotypical people.
And that’s why we thought Planner12’s question – and the thread that their comment sparked – was such a great starting point to consider neurodiversity and its consequences personally and professionally whether we’re neurodivergent or neurotypical.
Because even if we’re not neurodifferent ourselves, people we work with will be. Either way, what do we need to consider about day-to-day working life so we each get the chance to thrive, contribute and gain fulfilment from work?
What do we mean by neurodifferent? What conditions are considered neurodifferent? If you’re neurodifferent, do you mention it to your employer? Do you need a diagnosis? What’s your approach to studying and sitting exams? How should you adapt your leadership style for a range of neurodifferent conditions? And how does your condition influence the way you manage your team?
Invaluable insights and practical tips
In just under an hour, host Richard Allum and Jon explore just about everything you could possibly want to cover.
Expect talk of autism, ADHD, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, dyslexia and dysgraphia. Learn about TIC syndrome, the ‘Pygmalion effect’, why people with ‘spiky profiles’ are good for business. Plus why job adverts should (a) encourage applicants with spiky profiles and (b) be really clear about what a job will actually involve.
And there’s so much more.
In fact, this is an area we’re going to explore more – and not leave it too long before we do. So if you think of anything that the Assembly could explore once you’ve listened please get in touch and tell us what you think.
Now, tuck in to this latest episode. We think you’re going to love it.
Listen to the Assembly
A few of links mentioned by Jon during the episode
British Dyslexia Association: Dyslexia-friendly style guide
The Neurodiverse Workplace by Victoria Honeybourne
Think Human Business Writing course
BTS podcast: Neurodiversity and studying for regulated exams
PFS Power: Working with vulnerable clients
Cornell note-taking system (YouTube video)
Online Assembly: Design principles for reports
Tax year end. ALREADY?
Yes. But it wasn’t just any old hour’s worth of tax chat (attractive though we know that would be).
No. This is all about getting in the RIGHT MINDSET for 2023’s tax year end deadline.
(Like a HIIT workout. But without the HIIT bit. Or the workout.)
What it involved was coach and facilitator, Becca Timmins, being joined by Kez Condy and Jo Parkes from Navigatus, Zoe Hitchcock from Crowe UK and Emery Little’s Satu Flynn to discuss how they were getting in the zone for this year’s tax deadline.
The audience were invited to tune in as the group answer three questions:
- What went well at tax year end last year?
- What was a challenge?
- What will you take with you into this tax year end?
By sharing their insights and experiences from last year – combined with your own contributions in the chat – everyone taking part – on screen or off it – gained ideas, tips and techniques that could prove invaluable in countdown to the tax year deadline.
For the first time in three years paraplanners from all over the country were able to gather for real for the Paraplanners Assembly’s Big Day Out at FarmED near Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire on 15 September 2022.
We opted for a blend of small group sessions – which we called Crop Rotations – and all-together sessions.
Crop rotations: Morning
For the pre-lunch sessions, we split the Assembly into three groups: Barley, Oats and Wheat.
Participants were assigned to a group and each group rotated around the three topic sessions. Conversations in each topic session were facilitated by hosts and experts. Each session lasted for 45 minutes. The topic session for rotations 1, 2 and 3 were:
What will consumer duty mean to you?
Experts: the lang cat’s Mike Barrett and Mel Holman from CATS.
The art of challenging conversations
Expert: Becca Timmins from Time to Think and Emery Little led a session on challenging conversations.
Pep up your paraplanning processes
Experts: LIFT Financial’s Jonny Stubbs and Chris Baigent-Reed from Jigsaw Tree.
After lunch, participants were assigned to a NEW group: Apples, Cherries, Pears or Plums.
That’s because we combined two groups for the session on report writing but – by the miracle of organisation – ensured each group gets a technical Q&A all to itself. So the topics for rotations 4 and 5 were:
Panellists: Les Cameron and Neil MacLeod from M&G Wealth, and Transact’s Brian Radbone and Barnett Waddingham’s James Jones-Tinsley.
Three things that get in the way of clear, compliant and client-friendly report writing
Experts: Melissa Kidd of Motem with Mel Holman from CATS.
Broken link or duff information?
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A discussion about the challenges of managing a paraplanning team remotely. This was recorded during the pandemic.
In this session we covered…
- How to adopt and maintain a positive mindset in order to lead and manage successfully (it’s crucial for you to look after yourself first and foremost) looking at your circle of control and resilience
- How to engage and communicate with your teams
- How you can equip yourself with the tools, skills and confidence to be the best possible leader
- How to capture the positives and key lessons from this experience, which will enhance the way you work as a leader with your team in the future.
By Rachael Hurdman – Business Coach and consultant, Founder of Arch Inspire
Further to the July Howwow on building and managing paraplanner teams, here is a summary of the key themes we discussed, which I thought would be helpful for you all.
The purpose of paraplanning in your business…
- As a Paraplanning Manager it’s crucial that you can articulate to clients and your business the value that paraplanning specifically brings. This will also help team members understand how they contribute to the overall purpose of the team
- As a manger define and share how you can best add value to your team and the wider business – be clear on your core strengths and where/how you can make the difference. This will support team members to understand how they can best work with you. This needs to be two-way so ensure you spend time with team members to explore the value they add and where/how they feel they can make the difference
- Define, document and share the purpose of paraplanning together as a team and share this throughout the business – the outputs should also inform key messaging to clients about the client experience and how paraplanning will specifically touch and benefit clients
The Player/Manager dynamic
- If you have defined and shared how you can best add value as a Paraplanning Manager, this will support you to start to define the balance between managing/leading/client delivery – this will change and evolve over time but accept that it will be difficult to carry on doing everything you did before you became a manager and be open to the change ahead
- Embrace and enjoy that a core part of your role is to develop and coach others to be able to deliver exceptionally well for clients. Many managers and leaders enjoy this aspect more and more as they develop their skills. It also empowers team members when you can show you trust them to deliver and work with clients you once looked after
- Keep your hand in and be prepared to still ‘do the doing’ – whilst the amount of client work you do may reduce, work hard to keep your knowledge fresh so you can practice what you preach and support the team. Be honest if you feel someone else in the team would be better placed to take on a specific piece of work due to their technical knowledge or skill – you can still support them in a mentoring capacity
- Be receptive to feedback as a manger and leader, you can and will learn a huge amount from your team members – people respect those that willingly ask for feedback on their own performance and act on it regardless of the position they hold.
Assert yourself and the team
- Refer and feel free to use the contracting template to support and develop new and existing relationships both within your direct team and across the business
- Get your contracting clear at the outset in-order to control resources and workflow and re-visit the contracts you have in place regularly – remember great contracting is two-way and definitely not a list of demands flowing one way
- Invest time with your team to develop their contracting skills – mentor and coach them in this area and review examples where it has gone well/not so well to build on the skills continually
- Assume your position as both a Paraplanning Manager and a Paraplanner – respect your role and the value you bring in the same way, you value other roles within your business
- As a manager ensure you are clear on the level of autonomy you have to make decisions/enforce changes – work closely with your own manager to ensure that you are backed 100% when you have to push back or make the tricky calls
Communication, Communication, Communication
- Speak regularly with team members and meet whenever possible (if face to face isn’t possible use technology to see each other)!
- Consider a weekly success/learns/concerns session
a) Successes – capture and what what’s gone well and the resulting impacts
b) Learns – ensure all team members are sharing learns to support each other and work as effectively and collaboratively as possible
c) Concerns – ensure there is open dialogue where people feel comfortable to share concerns/issues to get support and help from the team (this doesn’t happen enough in businesses and can result in conflict, tension and stress if things are left unsaid for too long). Encourage and promote a culture where concerns and problems are shared openly
- Never, ever presume anything and distil this message across your team – it’s one of the root causes of poor communication – always ask and never guess
- Pick up the phone more and speak to each other (avoid jumping to e-mail straight away particularly where one phone call could avoid 20 e-mails)
- Avoid lengthy e-mail chains and ask yourself would it be better to speak to the person – if the answer is yes then speak to them and send a follow up e-mail as a record if required
- Keep close to your team – continually ask your team members how they are feeling and thinking about their work load (before/during/after hot spot periods)
- Take care not to always gravitate to the ‘go to people’ – ensure work is shared across the team, to empower others to step up and avoid key man dependency on those that always will step up. Create a culture of one team with shared responsibility.
You can find out more about how Rachael and Arch inspire supports businesses, teams and individuals by visiting www.archinspire.co.uk and connecting with Rachael on Linkedin.
Sharing practical tips and experience on how to build and run a paraplannning team.
In this session we covered…
- Career development path
- Balancing technical skills within a team
- Relationship management and development (between adviser, director, paraplanner, administrator, client – contracting)
- Dealing with tricky customers, advisers, team members
- Workflow management
- Developing your own skills as a team leader
- Getting buy in from the business owners/advisers and the other paraplanners for your role