Happy Wednesday, everybody. This is part two of a four-part series on prioritizing practice management. So I hope you had a chance to listen to last week’s Wednesday Wisdom about growth and client acquisition and how to identify your greatest revenue-generating opportunity right now in the business. This week, I’m going to talk a little bit about infrastructure. The reason I’m doing this is because I’ve heard from so many advisors that they are anxious to get back to business as usual, and if they can just get back to that then they will be able to focus on all the practice management things they were focused on before the pandemic. And the reality is, is we are going to have to manufacture the feeling of business as usual even though we are in unusual circumstances. And so I want folks to really imagine themselves putting their CEO hat back on and making time to work on the business.
The one thing I’ll say is that you may have felt going into this like you had a ton of time to focus on all the strategic planning stuff you wanted to focus on that you never get a chance to do in the office, and you’ve likely found that you’ve had time to do zero. Part of that may be just the stress and anxiety of what’s happening and dealing with clients. But another part of that is Parkinson’s law, which I talk about all the time. Work expands to fill the time we have to complete it. So if you have three extra hours on your calendar because you’re not commuting anymore, but you don’t intentionally fill that with anything and you don’t shift behavior and you don’t time-lock effectively, and you don’t hire an accountability partner, guess what? Those tasks that otherwise should have taken you less than you should have been able to complete in your regular 9:00 to 5:00 day will now suddenly take you eight to seven to complete.
And so I can’t stress enough the importance of building an intentional time to think about the business and work on it. Eventually, what starts to happen is our behavior shifts and we naturally start to build in that strategic thinking time ourselves throughout the day.
Okay, I don’t want to get off-topic here. So last week was growth in client acquisition, this week I want to talk a little bit about infrastructure. I’m going to try to make this video a bit shorter, and I want you to really listen for the questions that I ask and that I pose. They’re all coaching questions. And I want you to encourage team members to be part of this initiative with you. If we’re going to say, “Look, you’re going to spend the rest of the year focused just on client acquisition, infrastructure and optimization, and branding and marketing. Who can you tap to really help you with this second initiative?” Remember, the most powerful teams, the businesses that have grown the fastest, are businesses that have shared leadership among team members. Just because someone is a client service associate and is very tactical in their day-to-day doesn’t mean they don’t have strategic thinking ability and can’t help solve firm problems around processing new business and scheduling clients. It’s just that we’ve never really tasked people with thinking that way, so they don’t naturally think that way, which leads me to my first sub-topic for you.
If we’re going to spend the rest of the year saying, “You know what? We’re going to take an inventory of what we’ve built, team and processes, and we’re going to not hire anybody.” And by the way, most firms hire when they don’t need to, which is why most teams are overstaffed to begin with. The bandwidth that an individual person has when they’re really operating on all cylinders, where they’re completely focused on results and outcomes, and they understand what’s expected of them. A human being’s bandwidth is just tremendous.
The challenge is we hire people based on a job description that has a couple of responsibilities and tasks listed, and then we expect them to thrive and be these superstar leaders. And we haven’t given them expectations, we haven’t identified for them or helped them identify what the outcomes are that are going to drive business results, and we haven’t given them a pathway to be able to imagine themselves in any other role than the role that they’re already in. And so naturally that person is only using 20% of their brain and they hit capacity or they think they hit capacity really, really early, which prompts the need for another person and just this cycle continues.
The first thing I’m going to ask you to do is schedule time in your calendar to take an inventory of your current team and ask yourself the question of, “Are we really leveraging team members effectively?” A couple of things I want you thinking about. I want you to identify and actually rate your team members on a scale of 1 to 10, on three things, technical competency, how good they are at their job, how much they understand the nuances of the job, how well they deliver, how effective they are in doing what they’re supposed to be doing end-to-end. Second, problem-solving ability. It’s something that we don’t test enough or assess enough for before we hire somebody. Has this person displayed the ability to critically think through a problem, to understand cause and effect, to be scrappy about figuring out a solution?
And then third, I’ll say coachability/cultural fit. Are our team members able to adapt, to reinvent, to switch hats, to change when we need them to change. And I think now’s the best time that we’ve had in the last 10 years to really think about whether team members are coachable and can adapt. I will say this, and I’m not saying we got to think about firing people, but if you really want to build a boutique, nimble wealth management practice that’s poised for continued growth to manage the next 40 years in our business, which is going to be full of change from a demographic and technology standpoint, everybody on your team has to score high in all three areas. And so I want you to do that, and then have an honest conversation with the team member about your own assessment and findings and ask for their assessment and findings on themselves. By the way, leaders, I want you to assess yourself as well. So that’s the first thing.
The second thing I want you to think about is are our team members tactically or strategically focused? And leadership has to take responsibility for this. In other words, do team members understand not just what’s expected of them, but how we define success in their roles, what their objectives are, what they’re trying to achieve on a greater level than just completing tasks in a day, but what they’re really trying to achieve that impacts business results, not only top-line growth, but profitability? Do they understand a basic P and L and how a business actually works? Again, really, really critical if you’re building a practice where you have a handful of people who are all striving together towards a common goal. If you haven’t done that effectively then going through the exercise of setting up objectives for each team member and tying those to business results, super important, and it’s something we do all the time with our clients.
I hope this was helpful and sparked some good discussions among your team. I will see you next week, same place, same time for conversation on branding and marketing. Talk soon. Bye.