How to Safely Return to In-Person Events

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

We lost our operations manager (“Debbie”) last fall. Her partner got COVID and ended up dying from it. She was naturally very traumatized and decided she no longer wanted to deal with clients and advisors complaining all the time (those were her departing words). We honored her wishes, gave her a nice transition plan and threw a big going-away party.

We have been looking for someone to fill her shoes for almost six months. But we keep hitting a wall because our team is concerned about the attitude problem and that we find someone who is overjoyed to work with us and our clients. I have read enough of your work on behavioral style that I don’t think we are going to find a cheerleader who is also good with detail and process, which is what we need for our operations role.

Debbie was in a very bad way when she left. She had lost her partner, was worried about her own health (there were a number of other things going on) and couldn’t wait to leave. After 17 years with us and after all she had been through with her personal life, she was in a bad place. I don’t know that she would have said prior to this that she wanted to get away from us and our clients. You don’t stay somewhere 17 years if it is that terrible.

I am stuck with how to move forward. Do we revise the role? Do I take someone who is upbeat and cheery but maybe isn’t so attentive to the details of our day to day? We have someone filling the seat on an interim basis. But I know he wants to go back to focusing solely on his compliance responsibilities. It is stressful for him and for us.

Should I let my partners know they are making mountains out of molehills? I believe they are, but having Debbie be so direct and negative put them out. We must put someone who is qualified in the role and work with them the best we can. How do I convince them of this?