Cleaning Toilets: What They Don’t Tell You About Running an Office

Over the course of my years in learning and development, I had the opportunity to interact with hundreds of financial advisors, who whether by choice or appointment, found themselves in producing manager roles. This meant that not only were they running and growing their own advisory practice, but they were also measured on their ability to help all other advisors in their office grow their business as well.

They also managed the entire office and personnel. Jealous yet?

From the outside looking in, peers and colleagues looked at them as wildly successful professionals, perched on a pedestal, juggling the world of advising and managing…creating the fairytale picture of living the “best of both worlds.” Who wouldn’t want the opportunity to manage, yet still be given carte blanche to run their own advisory practice? After all, you get to spend your day doing what you love, and help others do the same, and as office production numbers go up, so does your paycheck.

This is the exact mindset that one producing manager had when I met him. He told meabout how flattered he was to be asked to take on this role, how he had never really considered it before, but he stepped into it knowing just how privileged he was for being given the opportunity. He acknowledged there was a learning curve coaching other advisors, but considering how much support he had in his office, he was confident that he would grow into it. That is, until one day, he had to clean the office toilets.

That’s right—this isn’t a misprint—clean the toilets in the bathrooms of the office he now managed. The one where nobody else was ever appointed for coordinating janitorial services. Where his assistant (who was selected for him) worked her own determined schedule, and where no other management sat on a full time, day-to-day basis. Just another “lucky” producing manager…and his toilet.

After hearing his story, as a coach and advisor, this is what I shared with him:

  1. It’s not just about you anymore. Managing cannot be done with tunnel vision.

  2. With great power comes great responsibility. The office you manage comes with people who need your time, direction, insight and support.

  3. If everyone is doing the same thing, nothing will ever get done. Managing any team or office requires knowing what you need in order to thrive, and then finding people who bring something unique to the table to make it happen.

  4. Forget about your own worth. As a manager you now have to put a price tag on the time and talent of your team. Identifying the right talent, as well as their worth is a critical component to running an efficient and cost effective operation. 

  5. You can’t be all things to all people. While managing does require flexibility and adaptability, it’s impossible to meet every need or make everyone happy. Make sure you know who your partners are, and where there is opportunity to add the right resources to meet the needs of your office.

Might I also suggest always having a basket of cleaning products…and a pair of heavy duty rubber gloves!

Kim Albano