If we only had a dollar for every time we’ve heard an advisor say “I’d really prefer not to add new team members because I just don’t like managing people.” Mind you, these are the very same advisors who are phenomenal at managing client relationships – highly adept at deciphering precisely what their clients hope to achieve and creating strategies to help them reach those objectives. So exactly HOW is that any different from managing team member relationships?
The short answer is simply that there isn’t any difference. Yet it requires a subtle but important shift in your mindset.
You’re great at managing client relationships because you always put the client first: you take seriously your fiduciary duty of clients before self. Yet few advisors ever think to translate those exact same skills to the challenge of managing their teams, treating each and every team member as if they are your very best clients. Because in reality, since your team members are touching your very best clients on a daily or weekly basis, they are a de facto extension of those clients.
All it takes is a willingness to jettison the need to “manage” employees and constantly evaluate their performance, and replace that mindset with the same empathic skills you use to guide and coach your clients – leading and collaborating with individual team members rather than trying to manage them.
Consider adopting the following five guidelines to help you on your way to developing a more engaged, confident and cohesive team:
1. Reduce the number of performance management conversations and replace them with professional development conversations.
2. Instead of always telling employees what you want/expect, try to evoke and encourage more of their creativity and problem-solving contributions.
3. Strive to shed any “know-it-all” attitudes and behaviors and approach conversations with much more openness and curiosity.
4. Be an active listener with your team members and look for opportunities to encourage them to have a voice in decisions.
5. Look for opportunities to elevate team members and allow them to shine, just as you would with your clients.
It’s a process that is essential not only to creating greater team interdependence and trust, but to ensuring that your practice is sustainable well into the future for both your clients and their heirs. Perhaps one of most successful clients put it best recently when he reminded me that “You’ll never have the best possible relationships with clients until you have the best relationships with your team members.”
Coaching Questions from this article:
- Take a moment to reflect on your leadership style. How actively engaged are you with each individual team member? What actions can you take to increase and enhance those interactions?
- What actions can you take to try to be more encouraging and constructive rather than corrective with your team?
- How might you help team members feel more supported in taking risks, questioning decisions and exploring alternative approaches and methodologies?