Being resilient when ‘it’ hits the fan

Being resilient when ‘it’ hits the fan

Thank goodness solicitors are workaholics!

Pippa Colman was awarded the Order of Excreta when her Mooloolaba office was literally flooded with sewerage. An overflow outside of her office had backed up, spilling raw sewerage right through the ground floor. Fortunately, a solicitor was in the office at the time, although it was a public holiday. “Thank goodness solicitors are workaholics!” she said. Quickly on the spot were a plumber, team members, industrial cleaners, council workers, the landlord, bystanders, as well as the press.

Over the subsequent week, Pippa’s team coped bravely. Her administration team and accounts staff worked off site at Pippa’s home. The solicitors worked from a hotel, from the Courts and from their homes. One brave soul went to the office with a peg on his nose for a telephone link up. Some team members had to be stood down, because work could not be given to them in the circumstances. Some staff worked reduced hours.

Local solicitors have offered us premises, sent flowers and been very understanding

“Local solicitors have offered us premises, sent flowers and been very understanding”, Pippa said. “Staff and judicial officers of the Family Court have been incredulous, and then incredibly helpful. All of our clients have been fantastic. All of our team members have been absolutely marvelous! It has also been tough”, she said. “Our files and Court documents remained at the office and the faxes are sent and received from the office, and the clients come to the office. We have not been able to make appointments with accuracy. But everyone has seen the funny side of things and shared their jokes about smelly situations with us. We have all had a lot of laughs.

Because we reacted so quickly to the disaster, it did not get too bad – at least not as bad as it could have. Our whole practice revolves around the management of family crisis, so I was able to make an effective battle plan, and put it into place quickly. We called for help straight away and the plumber arrived before I could get to the office from my home. Team members arrived within the hour. Our computer technician responded quickly and the plumber called the industrial cleaners. My husband got a mate with a trailer here quickly and they drove to and fro between the office and my home all day until we had moved enough desks, chairs, computers, stationery etc. Now that the building has been cleaned and the carpets replaced, we are all able to work from the office”.

Operate your administration and accounts department off site

Although Pippa said she would have preferred this not to have happened, there were positives. “We learnt that we can operate our administration and accounts department off site”, she said. “I have long said that the accounts staff would work more effectively if we could stop the legal staff from interrupting them. We have also been inundated with flowers and help given unstintingly. We met some very nice people – the plumbers and cleaners deserve medals! I do not think there was anything more they could have done to help us. They came on average at least twice a day to inspect, spray, disinfect and deodorise. Some days, they simply came to say hello and see how we were going”.

Pippa said her favourite quality is resilience. She is always telling her team that you must be ready to bounce back, no matter what happens. Now they have had the opportunity to develop it. When ‘it’ hits the fan (or in this case the floor) it is how you cope with it that matters. When we access support from others, look for the humour, adapt to change, see the positives or lessons if they are there, and maintain some hope for the future, we develop our resiliency.

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