Why clearly defined roles and responsibilities matter
Remember when you first started your firm? Not only were you the owner of the business, you and your original team members all needed to wear multiple hats. You moved from client acquisition to client service; from placing trades and rebalancing portfolios to implementing software and technology; and from regulatory responsibilities to handling benefits and payroll.
Over time, as the business grew, you were able to make additional key hires – building a team of complementary professionals around you. Yet for many advisory owners (even those who’ve built large multi-faceted enterprises) the jack-of-all-trades mindset persists. Rather than hiring and cultivating highly-skilled specialists, they gravitate towards generalists who may not be exceptional at any one discipline but who can pitch in when and where needed.
Ask yourself one simple question. If you needed bypass surgery, would you look for a general surgeon or would you find someone who’s a cardiothoracic specialist?
Building specialized expertise
Our research shows that in most enterprise teams, founders/principals tend to play a large role in almost EVERY team function. They are the pivotal identity of the team – a factor which limits rather than enhances the value of the firm. When perceived enterprise value rests almost exclusively in theidentity and activities of one or two leaders (who will one day retire), it is inevitably diminished.
The best enterprise leaders know that a critical aspect of their role is putting team members in positions to succeed and developing/coaching those individuals so that they can not only be their best today, but more importantly, gain the skills and experiences they will need in order to be even more valuable to the future team. They hire and cultivate the most skilled talent they can find in a particular area or discipline and trust those individuals to do their jobs.
Aligning resources according to the needs of the business ensures that the effort of team members is channeled efficiently and appropriately. And greater clarity around roles and responsibilities tends to foster greater collaboration— especially when leadership reinforces that inclination by exhibiting highly collaborative behavior themselves.
What distinguishes many of the highest performing teams is the commitment to clearly define and articulate both team and individual responsibilities and accountabilities for all major objectives and key results (OKRs). In these organizations, team members hold themselves accountable for the team’s collective results as well as their own individual contributions to the team and firm’s success.
For each major quarterly initiative, consider creating an accountability matrix which clearly articulates the goal to be achieved, each individual’s performance commitment to ensuring success, dates for periodic check-ins and target completion date, and a place to record challenges and progress along the way. Review these on a regular basis during team meetings – not to shame those who are underperforming, but rather to encourage performance, offer support and brainstorm possible work-arounds or solutions.
Undertaken in an open and supportive team environment, accountability matrixes can become valuable tools for building performance, a sustainable team, and greater enterprise value. They provide team members with greater clarity around precisely what is expected of them, and how their role and responsibilities integrate into the overall goals of the team. Sample templates designed to track both can be downloaded from the ClientWise eXchange.Sample Templates (Found on the ClientWise eXchange)
Coaching Questions from this article:
- Take some time to think about your current team. Do you have the right people in the right roles? Are there responsibilities that could be reallocated to improve team chemistry?
- 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?
- Review the team and personal accountability templates available on the eXchange. How might you utilize them to help every member of your team better understand your OKRs, why they’re important and how they’ll be achieved cooperatively?
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