For many years, I worked with Jamie Hopkins, Managing Partner, Wealth Solutions, here at Carson Group, at the American College of Financial Services. He then recruited me to work with him again here. He also recruited two other former colleagues.
Hopkins is masterful at keeping an eye out for people who have the skill set he needs on the team and then putting them together. Being adept at recruiting and hiring is one of three elements you need to build the right team.
In addition to being effective at hiring, crafting the ideal team is a matter of being effective at day-to-day management and using compensation as a part of motivation.
In this article, I’ll dive into each of those elements and offer tips on how to improve these processes to put together your dream team.
Be Effective at Hiring
The big thing about hiring effectively is that you should always be looking over the horizon for potential team members. This means always being in hiring mode.
The first element of this is to always be looking for the best people who would bring necessary skills while also adding value to our team.
I’ve written about this before, but the reality is that we tend to hire for what people know and fire people for who they are, so you need to really be on the lookout for people who have the skills to work well with others, pull their weight, add value to the team, are adaptable, have solid communication skills and have a good attitude.
Next, you always want to know the next two to three positions you need to fill. For example, if you know you’re going to need a writer three years in the future, you might be on the lookout to hire a good writer a few years before you need them. That way, you’ll have ample time to train them up, get them rolling and get them integrated into the team.
Many people make the mistake of waiting to fill a position after they’ve already needed that person for several months. But the reality is that it will actually be about 18 months before that person is up to speed. Don’t wait until you’ve hit a pain point, because while you’re training your new hire, that pain will linger. Bring in a quality person who you know you’ll need before you really need them.
Once you’ve identified a candidate for a role, you may want to consider implementing assessments in your hiring process. Carson Executive Business Coach Jessica Harrington notes that assessments could be helpful to understand the strengths, values, instincts and preferences of potential hires.
“Your team is one of the most important components of your business and your ability to provide excellent client service experience,” Harrington said. While Harrington specializes and is certified in the Kolbe™ assessment, she notes that there are assessments for everything from job knowledge to personality to emotional intelligence. The one you pick depends on the problem you’re trying to solve or the skills you’re trying to assess.
Be Effective at Day-to-Day Management
Once you’ve onboarded your team members, you need to provide them with the resources they need. For example, if you have a remote employee, like me, you might need to provide a standing desk and two screens. If you have somebody you’ve onboarded to do a podcast, ensure they have the proper mic and headphones.
To that end, when it comes to technology, you want to make sure not just that your stakeholders have the right tools, but also that they are properly trained how to use them so they can be effective.
You’ll want to assess needs as the person’s role might change. For example, if you start asking your stakeholders to make videos, have you provided them with the right camera, lights, microphone and software (or reimbursed them for the ones they’ve purchased)? Have you ensured they know how to use it all?
In addition to supplies and technology, you also want to sharpen your management style. Our VP of Coaching, Sarah Cain, provides a great example for managers of firms. There are two things she does that you can emulate: First, she makes everything clear, and second, she over-communicates (in a good way).
Every quarter, our team has a retreat where we outline our goals for the quarter – both our team and individual goals. Then every week, we have our “L10” meeting where we dive into any news or items we need to be aware of, update the team on the progress of our goals and then have a brainstorming session where we pose questions we might need help with so the team can help us.
As a result of both our quarterly and our weekly meeting, Cain keeps us in the loop on her expectations and the resources we have in each other so that our team performance is maximized.
Lastly, be accessible to your stakeholders. Make them feel comfortable reaching out to you if they have a question or if you need help solving a problem.
Be Effective at Utilizing Compensation as Motivation
Compensation isn’t just salary. Sometimes it’s time off, flexibility, tuition reimbursement or professional development stipends.
The old rule with compensation as motivation was the golden rule: treat people the way you’d like to be treated. But the new rule is the platinum rule: treat people how they want to be treated.
The key here is to know what motivates your team. Many advisors leading teams would themselves be motivated by a bonus, but their stakeholders would actually be more motivated by time off.
The first thing to do is to ask your stakeholders what motivates them. Is it time? Is it money? The best way to find out what your stakeholders want is to ask them directly. There’s no magic pill or tool to find out information. It’s really just as simple as that.
Once you find out what motivates them, deliver that to them as part of their compensation. I’m working with a coaching member right now who has a different compensation model for everybody on his team. One person benefits more from time off due to health issues, so she gets two months a year off. Other people on the team have a more monetary-focused compensation model.
While this is complex, the beauty of having a relatively small firm is you can be more flexible. Once your employee count reaches a certain size, usually around five to seven people, this starts to get more complicated.
Lastly, you need to up your compensation game in general. This is a big thing I’ve been focusing on with many of my coaching members. Before COVID-19, most people said they would take a 10% pay cut to be able to work from home, but that’s not the case anymore. Now people don’t need to take a pay cut because there’s such a shortage of qualified workers that they could get a raise by taking a remote job. So you need to compensate more competitively than ever before.
Some Final Thoughts
Building the right team requires three critical elements: continuous recruiting and hiring, sharpening your management skills and designing your compensation to best motivate your stakeholders.
Nestled in all of that is knowing what to do when you bring the talent in. If you’re unsure what to do here, I frequently recommend getting them rolling with the tasks you’ve outlined in their job description, plus our 100 Items to Delegate resource.
Basically, identifying the right talent and creating an environment where they can shine, be motivated and be managed in a way that they feel safe is key to building the right team.