One step in our process of assisting financial planning firms to find great people who are a good fit is to confidentially interview non-owner key staff members to garner multiple perspectives on the culture and needs of the firm. When interviewing these key staff members, I often get a lot of interesting feedback about their perceptions of the company, the culture, and their supervisor(s). This month’s article looks at 5 things employees say they wish their superiors knew, but can’t tell them.
- Employee Comment:‘The expectations here are not clear and I know I couldn’t meet them even if they were.’
- Employer Takeaway: Develop clear expectations prior to hiring and make sure to communicate them early and often. By doing this, some of the subjectivity in future employee review meetings is removed, especially when they are not measuring up. Vague statements such as ‘get this work done as fast as possible’ and ‘just do what I do’ aren’t very helpful. Instead, be specific, such as “become the in-house Money Tree expert within six months” or “develop two new strategic alliance referral sources per month.”
- Hint: During the interview process, keep an eye out for candidates who specifically ask what is expected of them – very few do it. Be prepared to tell them what you do expect, or they won’t be able to deliver!
- Employee Comment:‘I was told to explore, be creative and try new things to develop my own style, but what that really meant is you’d better do it my way.’
- Employer Takeaway: If an advisor has hired the best and brightest people, putting reins on their creativity is short-changing the firm’s investment in those people and stunting their growth.
- Hint: If the intention truly is to have it done the advisor’s way, at least for now, it is much more effective to just say “do it my way until you have mastered it, then you can explore and improvise.”
- Employee Comment:‘My supervisors are not approachable. They are busy and become visibly frustrated when I ask questions. When I do get a chance to speak with them, they answer my question with a question or belittle me because I don’t know something they feel I should.’
- Employer Takeaway: If an advisor has experienced high turnover and employee dissatisfaction, being unapproachable could be one of the root causes. Gen Y employees are looking for a collaborative work atmosphere, and one of the reasons they are seeking a position is to receive mentoring. If they don’t feel like they will be mentored, or at least receive basic guidance and feedback, they will bypass the firm altogether or they will join the firm but then depart when it becomes clear that the environment was portrayed differently to them in the interview process.
- Hint: Advisors that have experienced this should consider taking some time to reflect and ask themselves if they could work for themselves (and if not, realize that employees may not be happy working for them, either!). If necessary adjust your business strategy or managing style accordingly.
- Employee Comment:‘I am not performing the role I was hired for, feel underutilized, and am unchallenged. My employer thinks challenging me is giving me more daily tasks to complete.’
- Employer Takeaway: Employees want challenging work; this doesn’t necessarily mean more work, but work that challenges them to learn and expand their knowledge and skills! Something that they feel is increasing their knowledge base and building out their skill repertoire is far more appealing to employees than just doing more of the same. It is easy to fall into a rut performing the same tasks for the same clients over and over again.
- Hint: Consider changing things up by challenging them to learn a new planning technique, piece of software, client situation, etc.
- Employee Comment: ‘The mentoring, resources, camaraderie doesn’t currently exist for me to grow and succeed.’
- Employer Takeaway: When investing in a resource, you should give it the best chance of success in order to increase likelihood of getting future positive return on your investment (ROI). When you buy a computer, you buy all the necessary software and download updates on an ongoing basis to make sure the machine is working at peak performance. The same is true of new hires, who will not return as much if they are hired and then not properly supported and maintained.
- Hint: Advisors should ask their employees periodically if they have the tools they need to successfully serve clients. A simple check-in from time to time from an advisor to validate the employee’s existence and contribution is a powerful tool that costs nothing. Camaraderie cannot be forced, but advisors leading small organizations can encourage employees to become involved in study/networking groups which benefit both individual and firm.
If some advisors are thinking to themselves that they have had an “open door policy” for years and no one has ever expressed any of these comments, maybe it’s not as open as they thought! Employees are hesitant to bring up constructive criticisms about their employer due to fear of retaliation and termination. If this is truly sought, management needs to emphasize openness and even consider offering anonymity. Alternatively, or in addition, consider the use of a third party human resources company/consultant to assist. The Society of Human Resource Management is a good place to start http://www.shrm.org.
And stay tuned for June’s article on Retaining Gen Y Employees!
- Caleb and Michael will be presenting at FPA NorCal May 28th -29th www.fpanorcal.org
- Michael will be presenting to the Institute of Financial Advisors - New Zealand on May 20th
- Caleb completed his first Tough Mudder www.toughmudder.com and hopes to complete another soon