Whenever you hire a new employee, someone has to spend time training them on the intricacies of how your firm operates, no matter what the new employee’s experience level may be. Due to the nature of our profession, though, and the limited time and resources constraints for typical financial planning firms, training a new staff member is usually not the best use of a firm owner's time so your staff ends up doing a lot of the heavy lifting. Training should not be viewed as a time intensive endeavor where you cross your fingers and hope something good comes of it, but instead a chance to solidify your new hire's choice in selecting your firm to work for as it is often cited that a new hire makes their decision to stay or leave your firm within the first 30 days. Just like you strive to exceed the expectations of new clients you onboard, strive to exceed the expectations of your new hires.
To provide additional context for this common challenge, the communication excerpt below is one I recently received from a frustrated new planner discussing their training experience:
"My position could best be described as assistant to lead planners. As an Associate Planner I did the back office work of preparing reports, etc., but it was the lead planners who had most of the interaction with clients; my interaction was limited to service work. I enjoy preparing plans and reports; however, I need client interaction related to the work I do, and I had very little opportunity for that.
In addition, I received no formal training for the tasks I was expected to accomplish; I had to discover what those tasks were and then seek out help in learning how to accomplish them. This was disconcerting and stressful on my part, and unfair to my colleagues, who unexpectedly found themselves in the role of "trainer", with no prior notice from management, and with already-full agendas of daily tasks."
This is certainly not an isolated incident and is something I encounter in financial planning firms nationwide. This message was particularly interesting because it highlighted frustrations on both sides of the equation, the new hire as well as the current employees who were suddenly thrust into a training role they had not expected.
Here are a few ideas to help alleviate some of the frustrations that can occur as you structure a training plan with your staff for a new hire:
- Seek Input and Set Clear Expectations: Garner input from your staff on whether they think a hire needs to be made in the first place. If they agree, make sure they are clear on the expectation that they will have to take on more until the new hire is up to speed, and/or in getting that new hire trained in the first place. If they don't agree a new hire needs to be made, ask them why the work is not getting done and deadlines are being missed (if that’s really the case).
Remember, you have final say here and are not asking your current team for permission to hire someone new. Nonetheless, involving your team in the decision can be a huge positive; current team members love this because they feel like their input is valued. Whenever we onboard a new financial planning firm client, part of our process is to interview key staff confidentially and outside the office, if necessary, to make sure we have a thorough understanding of the culture and needs of the firm. And one of the first things we ask is if they think a hire ought to be made, to be certain they’re on board with the kind of training that may come next.
- Proper Preparation: Ideally, everything in your firm would be well documented and clear to follow, so your potential new hire could be provided this guide prior to their first day of work, and also use a reference when everyone is busy and the new hire has a question. Back when I worked in a financial planning full time and hired a lot of interns, I would send them the processes and procedures manual we had, checklists, as well as user guides for software programs, custodians, etc. and set the expectation that they review these materials prior to starting. I also set aside blocks of time each day on my calendar to focus specifically on training the new hire. Some of my colleagues said I was like the professor who assigned a reading prior to the first day of class!
Rest assured, though, that having a big pile of training materials and documentation is not “evil homework”! If you have hired the right person, they will immerse themselves in the materials you provide them and will not be thinking "I'm not getting paid for this" but rather “I can’t wait to start doing this!” If you think you have everything documented in your firm, try pulling out a few procedures and following along to ensure they are still accurate and don’t need to be adjusted.
Stay tuned for next month's article on the remaining tips for training your trainer.
- After a month long internship in a financial planning firm, Viet Pham, is back working with us on a part time basis while he finishes his financial planning education
- We announced our inaugural CFP scholarship exam winners. See the full release here. https://newplannerrec.wpengine.com/new-planner-recruiting-announces-inaugural-winners-of-cfp-exam-scholarship/