A key ingredient in building a strong advisor practice
“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. They are the one that gets the people to do the greatest things."
– Ronald Reagan
It can be said that the primary role of an advisor is to have meaningful and relevant conversations with clients, because ultimately what you do for your clients drives revenue. However, there is much more to running a successful advisory practice than simply conversing with clients. Think of all the day-to-day tasks, such as processing new business and transactions, following up on client inquiries, keeping notes and records of all communications, marketing efforts for your firm, and more.
It’s a lot for just one person to juggle – some may say it’s darn near impossible. But as the saying goes, many hands make light work. Effectively growing and operating a business requires a team.
Having an engaged team can mean the difference between a practice you desire versus a practice that simply exists – and a great team starts with strong leadership. Your team looks to you to chart the direction and set the pace. And employees will also look to you for professional development that enables them to be fully engaged in the operations of your business.
The first step towards effective leadership is quite simple: focus on being the type of person you’d like to work for, not the type of person you wouldn’t want to work for. Which type are you? How would people describe your style? Now ask yourself, What are the attributes of someone that you would want to work for? Do you bring those qualities to the office?
Along with being the type of person that others like working for, another key aspect in building an effective team is being able to help people focus and be engaged in the business. As their leader, it’s your responsibility to get the most out of employees by encouraging them to grow in their respective roles – along with developing personal interests. Your leadership can help increase team performance and engagement, while also helping to grow your practice. Let’s take a look at some attributes of an effective leader and some actions you can take to create a great team.
Attributes of an effective leader
Do you know what it takes to be considered an effective leader? Here’s a checklist to help you in developing a team that’s effective and engaged in your practice.
- Recognize your employees’ strengths and weaknesses and assign tasks accordingly. Who’s a great communicator? Who is ultra-organized with office processes?
- Fully understand what they do in a day and what they love about their role, along with what they don’t enjoy.
- Know what motivates each employee – it might be different for everyone. Is it a private pep talk? A competition among peers? If you aren’t sure, ask your staff for feedback on what they need from you.
- Understand their goals and ambitions: What’s important to them and what would they like to achieve?
- Generate enthusiasm and motivation for employees to deliver results.
- Everyone likes recognition for their contributions. It can be something as simple as telling someone they’ve done an excellent job, or as substantial as a gift card or bonus.
- Get your staff engaged in the recognition process – what are their suggestions?
- Create a positive environment that makes team members want to come to work each day. Happy and engaged employees are effective employees.
- Draw out each person’s innate skills and abilities. Invest in your team’s development.
- People won’t grow just because you want them to. Give each employee a reason to develop and grow.
- Consider mentoring and job shadowing options for employees who are eager to expand their skill set.
- The industry is constantly changing, and firms need to be able to change with it or be left behind.
- As a leader, set the example by treating change as a positive learning situation. This will encourage your employees to accept and embrace change as well.
- Get out ahead of the curve – look for ways to improve and grow your practice. Don’t be afraid to evolve and try new things.
- Tap into insights that your employees may have on novel ways to grow your business or develop new niche markets.
Communication and feedback
- Your team members need to understand what is expected of them and be comfortable offering suggestions on how things can be done better.
- Be available for employees when they need help, and have regular conversations with them.
- The best business ideas can come from your employees. Ask them for suggestions and feedback on ways to improve your practice’s operation.
Actions to help develop team members
Have regular performance reviews
Hold regularly scheduled reviews with each employee to discuss performance and goals. Have an open discussion and get feedback from the employee. Discuss areas of strength and areas for improvement. Understand what the employee’s goals and objectives are and what motivates and energizes them.
Hold effective weekly team meetings
Have weekly meetings with all team members in attendance. Set an agenda with discussion items and give employees the opportunity to share their ideas and opinions in a safe environment where everyone’s input is valued. Effective meetings allow for candid, creative discussion from all team members about the practice and how things are going.
Celebrate the simple successes
Make a concerted effort to celebrate successes big and small – everything from positive client testimonials and thanks, to getting a new client or a great new prospect. Create an environment where your team understands that even the small successes are important.
You are the advisor and this is your practice. You are also the leader, and your leadership style will determine the attitude and effectiveness of your team. Remember, be the type of person you would want to work for, and not the type of person you wouldn’t want to work for.