Great businesses know that having an engaged team at their core is a key part of achieving their goals. They also know that the best way to create a truly engaged team is to communicate relentlessly with them about what’s important. Brett Davidson of FP Advance has sound advice on how you can integrate more effective internal communications to boost the success of your team and your business
Almost every financial planning firm I know could be a little better at this type of communication.
At FP Advance we recommend a quarterly State of the Nation update, held with everyone in your organisation. Typically that will be a meeting of a couple of hours covering a range of areas.
Here’s what a State of the Nation agenda might cover every quarter:
Pick one or two of your core values from your business plan, and tell a story or two about where you’ve noticed these values being lived by the team and the company.
For example, in one firm I know, a core value is generosity. Perhaps you’ve noticed one team member helping a less-experienced team member. That would fall nicely under the generosity value.
By telling these stories about how values were lived up to, you reinforce those values. This helps your team to see and understand why these beliefs are the heart and soul of how the business operates.
Business plan update
Explain to your team the goals and priorities from your business plan. Then let them know how you are progressing against those goals.
That might be your ten-year big, hairy, audacious goal (BHAG), your three-year goals, and/or your one-year plans. Giving people updates on all of these lets them see how each one fits into the next. If we hit this year’s goals, it gets us well on the way to our three-year goals, which lay strong foundations for hitting our ten-year BHAG.
Importantly, it also keeps these goals firmly in your mind. This keeps you and the leadership team accountable for making progress and not getting sidetracked or distracted.
What were the latest wins for the business in the previous quarter?
Share these with the team and let them see the progress that you’re making. Creating this list every quarter is a great reminder for you too.
Team business dashboard
I’d also be creating a team business dashboard that communicates a range of business metrics, at every quarterly State of the Nation meeting. By going over some key information regularly, you allow the team to get a sense of what makes the business tick and what the priorities are.
Clearly what you choose to communicate is up to you, but here are a few metrics I think you could consider sharing with your team:
- Revenue for the quarter
- Win/loss ratio on new clients (and why you lost with some of the new clients)
- Revenue per planner and revenue per staff (and why improving productivity is a constant theme in the business)
- Average client size (using assets under management or annual fees, whichever feels right for you)
I highly recommend sharing some recent client stories with your team too. It’s especially important for the team members who are not in the room when recommendations are made to clients. They hear about the client reactions and it brings home what it is that you really do.
If a client is in tears at discovering they can afford to retire and leave a job they hate, or if they’re excited about taking the trip of a lifetime, the rest of the team need to know this information. More importantly, you can explain why clients feel these powerful reactions to a ‘boring old financial plan’.
If you can go one step further, and explain the role that each team member has played in delivering your amazing advice, that’s even better.
Remember, you win and lose as a team.
Team good news
It’s also great to share some good news of a personal or professional nature from some of your team members (with their permission, of course).
Maybe someone has passed an exam, or gained a new qualification. Perhaps they’ve had a new addition to their family, got married, or taken an awesome trip abroad. Or they’ve raised money for a charity that’s close to their heart.
Anything that lets people get to know a little more about each other is great for bringing your team together.
As part of your quarterly review of your business plan I recommend asking yourself two questions:
- What did we learn this quarter?
- What could we double down on?
The first question helps you and your leadership team to reflect on what you learned, and often leads to a discussion about your observations. There are always new things to learn.
The second question helps you to reflect on what’s working and ask yourself if you could be doubling down on what’s working. As opposed to dreaming up new projects that seem like a good idea, but are often a distraction.
Once you’ve done that review at leadership level, sharing the learning with the team is a great idea. You might also pose these two questions to the broader team at every State of the Nation meeting too. This gives them a chance to consider what they’ve learned, and what’s working at their level in the business.
Team question time
Obviously I would encourage team members to ask questions any time they like during the quarterly State of the Nation meeting. However, if they’ve been listening to the updates you or your manager have been providing, then now is the time to open the meeting up to some questions.
In some firms there’s very little coming from the floor at this part of the meeting, and I know business owners get frustrated by this. However, this is your issue to work on, not your teams.
A lack of questions could be nothing more sinister than you provide great updates. But it could indicate people are a little nervous to speak up, or are just not that engaged with what the business is doing; it’s just a job.
The best solution to this is to hold your quarterly updates consistently. Your objectives are to communicate, communicate, and continue communicating. In this way you educate, inform, encourage and mentor the team to engage with what you are doing. That might take some time but by keeping it up you’ll get there.
Remember the old advertising rule of thumb: people need to hear a message nine times before they even start to absorb it. If you meet quarterly, that means it might take two years before your team start to engage with your message. Don’t be discouraged.
By letting your team know the score in your business on a regular and consistent basis, you will create a more engaged team. Over time they’ll have more context to help them understand your business, its goals, and the important role it performs in your local community. It will also help your team understand why the owners make the decisions they make for the business.
That’s got to be good for everyone. So get communicating with your team.
About Brett Davidson
Brett is the Founder of FP Advance, the boutique consulting firm that helps financial planning professionals to advise better and live better.
He is recognised as one of the leading consultants to financial advisers in the UK. You can follow Brett online and via social media: