I work with small businesses from all sectors; but with extensive experience, strengths and in-depth knowledge of working in Trauma and Mental Health, I am very aware of the unique challenges for professionals working in this space when it comes to accessing support to make them more effective in their roles. It can feel very uncomfortable allowing someone to access your administration when you are dealing with highly sensitive data, potentially vulnerable individuals and their concerned families. The right fit is essential.
Here are 6 questions that professionals working with trauma might consider posing when looking for the right back office support…
1. Can they manage sensitive data both compliantly and appropriately?
It’s so important to ensure that whoever you work with is registered with the ICO for their responsibilities under GDPR. I’d also recommend finding someone who has worked specifically with sensitive data as there are specific requirements for how this data is handled.
Asking your potential Business Support Manager questions about confidentiality and the sensitivity of the information you hold will help you to understand whether they will be able to comply with the stringent regulatory requirements and to embrace your own etiquette here.
2. Can they find the right balance between empathy and professionalism?
How, for example, might the person supporting you with your work deal with parents in the case of you working with a child?
I’m a parent of children who have experienced early life trauma, and I also provide both attachment and trauma training to education professionals in the region on an ad-hoc basis for two well-established organisations. I have seen countless situations where terminology has been used inappropriately within correspondence from professionals, leaving parents feeling misunderstood about their child's needs, and anything but supported. This is clearly not a situation anyone wants to be a part of.
Finding someone who understands the importance of sensitivity and how not to say the wrong thing, and to find the right balance between empathic and professional is essential. The perfect candidate for your business support work could be someone who can identify with the parents they are dealing with – someone who can get the job done efficiently and effectively whilst at the same time totally understanding how it feels to be on the other end of the communication.
3. How well do they really understand the area you work in? Do they ‘get’ it?
As a professional working in the field of Trauma, you are likely dealing with incredibly complex processes with multiple referral points, a large and multi-skilled team and of course you have professional standards to adhere to. It’s so important that those working with you understand your working environment. The way you need to operate is unique to your profession and helping your own ‘team’ to understand this side of their role could potentially take up a lot of your valuable time.
One way to avoid this is to work with a Business Support Manager who has experience in your field. They will be able to get up to speed more quickly, they’ll ‘get’ the jargon and are more likely to avoid missing key steps in a process or to fail to engage a relevant person at the right time, saving you time up front but also in rectifying problems and exacerbating already challenging circumstances for your clients.
4. Do they understand your processes and have the ability to identify gaps?
To provide the best support to you in your role, the business support professional you engage to work with you needs to be able to: identify gaps in a process, to anticipate problems when things don’t follow an expected plan, to think on their feet and to respond sensitively and appropriately in a calm manner.
Ideally, you need to work with someone who really has a good overview of your working processes and environment so that they are able to work relatively autonomously in terms of keeping things ticking over in the background while you are doing the frontline work, but they should also equally be able to judge when your input is absolutely necessary.
Someone who understands your processes and who is used to working with them will also be able to have more informed conversations with other professionals and your clients than someone who has not worked in this arena. In terms of consistency for the people you are providing support to, this can make a real difference to their trust in you during what can be a very challenging time for them.
5. Do they speak your language?
Looking for someone who ‘speaks the same language as you’ when you are seeking back office support for your trauma practice makes a huge amount of sense. Your time is really important to you and you’d ideally want to spend more of it helping people than sinking in paperwork and process.
Finding the right person to support you will mean that your work can be sped up and you will find that you have easier conversations with someone who ‘gets it’ and a more productive working relationship than someone with no background in your profession. They might also take on your voice in communications and do some of the legwork in acknowledging and responding to emails in a timely fashion, issuing mailing campaigns or in creating relevant posts for social media in an appropriate way.
Hiring someone who has experience of working with Trauma Professionals means that you will spend less time explaining things, and that you will know that you can trust them to do the right things and to communicate sensitively and appropriately when dealing with people on your behalf.
6. Do they understand the importance of communicating with wider teams in your area of work?
When you are part of a wider ‘team around the individual’ as a Trauma Professional, it’s essential that everyone is a strong link in that important team. Whoever you hire to support your back-office processes needs to understand exactly how important the team approach is in your profession in order to be as effective as possible.Being a parent of children with a support team around them, I know how frustrating and problematic it can be when things aren’t communicated in the right way or worse still if there’s no acknowledgement when a request for support is submitted.
There have been times as a parent carer that I have had to cajole, chase, clarify process and pass paperwork between professionals to ensure my children get the help they need and deserve – when things are really tough, I need a quick response. I also know how much lighter the load feels when a team of professionals supporting a child are all on the same page and I feel like everyone is speaking the same language. Hiring the right back office support can help you with coordination and management of activities and communications to avoid falling behind when your case load is high.
If you are a professional working in the trauma/mental health field looking to reclaim some valuable time and are seeking high quality, professional, seamless business support from someone who understands the sensitivities in your area of work, please do get in touch for a no obligation chat to explore how we might help.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call Emma on 07917 355955.
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