My Top Ten Tips for 2016 – Part Two

Beverly Flaxington

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 Readers,

I hope you enjoyed Part I last week. Here is Part II of my “Top Ten” list of advice for 2016. Hopefully these lists will be beneficial and spark some ideas:

On creating a healthy culture:

  1. Be clear where you are going and share it! Setting clear and measurable goals seems very simple, yet few advisory firms do it in any formal way. “We want to grow” or “We hope to increase assets by X%” is about as specific as most advisory leaders are. This year, resolve to set clear objectives – both quantitative and qualitative -- and to communicate them to your team. Measure success and communicate what’s working and what’s not on a regular basis.
  1. Listen to the obstacles. Too many leaders choose to turn a blind eye to what’s wrong in the firm and how it could be overcome. One advisory leader we know frequently says, “Don’t let them bring me problems, just solutions.” Sometimes employees need to raise the problems and talk about them to identify potential solutions. This year, hold regular “Obstacles Meetings” where you allow team members to talk about obstacles to success. Capture a list of the obstacles and then organize them – what can team members control, what can they influence and what’s out of their control? Organizing obstacles gives us data on which ones to focus on. If they can control it or influence it, they have more personal power and might take more ownership. Guide them to areas they can choose to improve. Counsel them to put obstacles that are out of their control to the side. It’s wasted time and energy to focus on things we can’t change.
  1. Model what you want. Is your advisory culture what you want it to be? Are team members behaving in ways that contribute to the firm overall? Would you call your culture one of deliberate creation? If you aren’t happy with aspects of your culture, consider what message you are sending through your actions. Your behaviors, communication style and values will speak very loudly even if you don’t realize it. Employees watch you and will recognize the right and wrong behaviors based on what you do. If you want a supportive, open culture, you need to model it. If you want team members communicating and working well together, you need to encourage and reward this. If you want collaboration, team selling or cross referrals, you need to build incentives for these things. Take stock of what you like about your culture and identify what you don’t. Observe your style and approach and see what steps you can personally take to achieve the culture you desire.