Managing an Uncommunicative Team

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,

My team shuts their doors all day long. I’m a very social person and as leader of the firm I want to engage and have discussions about what’s working and what’s not. Even if I have impromptu meetings to discuss things, they will rarely participate unless directly asked for their opinion. This communicates disinterest and an unwillingness to be part of the firm. Is there a way to drive more engagement – do I insist they leave their doors open or give them homework in advance of meetings so they come prepared to talk?


Dear M.W.,

Differences in behavioral and communication style are at work here! I’ve written about this quite a bit. But it is so fundamental and can be so divisive when it is not understood that it bears repeating in response to your question.

You have a key phrase in your question: “This communicates a disinterest….” This is exactly how behavioral style works. These advisors have not said they are disinterested; they have not told you they are unwilling to be active members of the firm. In fact, do you know what they are doing behind those closed doors? Are they working hard on client accounts? Are they reading investment journals and watching market activity? Are they researching something important for your portfolios or your clients? They might think, by their actions, they are extremely interested and willing to participate.