We focus so much on acquisition, portfolio management, client issues and day-to-day operations that we rarely have time to sit back and take stock of the state of our team. It’s a by-product of the fast-paced business we’re in – and anyway, does corporate culture honestly need to be all that high on your priority list?
To answer that question, let’s take a look at what happens when you DON’T do a good job of setting expectations. Lacking a clear understanding of what’s expected, team members make a best guess (often erroneously) at what actions/behaviors are desired. When performance results lag, you then hold the team member accountable for expectations you never clearly articulated. The team member becomes confused and frustrated by the lack of communication: they never know what is expected, and often feel individual and team goals are a constantly moving target. Performance reviews become contentious and exasperating.
What results is a growing lack of trust and faith in firm management, leading to inordinately high employee turnover rates. Teams find themselves in a constant state of flux and unable to gain a necessary degree of cohesion, which invariably has a strongly negative impact on overall client satisfaction. Not exactly the recipe for a thriving practice!
How does your firm’s corporate culture stack up?
Optimal wealth management advisor teams occur in those firms where communication and cooperation are prized, where team members are comfortable taking risks and feel empowered to ask question and challenge long-standing practices or beliefs.
Who calls the shots at your firm? Is everyone’s input welcome, or are decisions always handed down from the top? Do team members feel comfortable questioning decisions and taking initiative? The most effective corporate cultures occur in those practices where everyone feels as though they have input into the strategic direction of the firm, and are empowered to act on their instincts without having to seek permission for every action.
Is the prevailing attitude amongst team members one of competition or collaboration? How willing are people to share information, insights and best practices, and pitch in to help each other out when individual workflows spike? Corporate cultures that foster collaboration not only result in stronger team bonds, but inevitably experience happier clients who are the direct beneficiaries of the cooperative, knowledge-sharing environment.
And lastly, the best cultures are those with a strong commitment to continuous improvement – firms that don’t just fall back on the old “that’s the way we’ve always done it” mantra, and instead encourage new thoughts, new ideas and new methodologies – along with a willingness to mentor and coach team members to expand their individual roles and advance within the organization.
Think about all the decisions you make on a weekly basis. Which of those might be better shared with the team to leverage their expertise and give them a greater sense of empowerment?
What more can you do to ensure that every member of your team understands your common goals, why they’re important and how they’ll be achieved cooperatively?
How can you better emphasize the importance of mutual support among team members, and stress that success depends on the participation and commitment of everyone on the team?