Is Your Natural Work Style Holding Back Your Staff?

by Certified Life Coach Alissa Gauger, MBA

Are you guilty of any of the following: (fess up!)

- Texting your Associate Financial Representative (AFR) in the evening due to a wave of anxiety, a feverish new idea or a gnawing worry that came to mind

- “Popping over” to say hi to your AFR and then peppering him or her with several questions and an update

- Forwarding lots of emails to your AFR

- Calling your AFR from your desk that’s 10 feet away even when you can see that he or she looks busy

- Stopping by your AFR’s desk when you feel bored “to brainstorm” or chit chat

- Asking for last minute updates, work and answers

- Suspecting that your AFR “doesn’t like you”

If you answered “yes” to any of the above, then you can improve morale, reduce turnover and increase productivity by learning how to accommodate the work style of AFRs, Associate Wealth Management Advisors and other members of your team. You see, if you’re like 90% of financial advisors your work style is driven by urgency, you’re prone to interrupting yourself and others, you become bored easily, tend to change tasks constantly, crave immediacy and are a bit impulsive. Just like you cannot change your style, nor can your AFR who is likely your opposite.

Due to the fact that you are the employer, your AFR is at a disadvantage in getting his or her needs met which are: periods of focused, uninterrupted time to work, the ability to start and complete tasks one at a time, time to research questions before answering and the freedom to set up and maintain highly organized processes and systems. Your team likely tolerates your style more than you tolerate theirs because you’re the boss. If you’d like to create a team of engaged employees, here is a simple way that you can show mutual respect.

Establish a new way of communicating that is free of interruption. Set up a shared Google spreadsheet in Google Drive. This is not to replace any systems or processes your organized team has already produced! It is a simple way for you to impulsively update a spreadsheet with your every passing thought, worry, idea, concern and question without bothering a soul at any hour of the day or night. Have your organized AFR set it up and share the file with you.

Set up tab one with the following columns: Date Task Urgency Notes

Have your AFR set up a second tab to cut and paste completed tasks from tab one.

This will provide you with an outlet other than texts, pop-ins, phone calls and voicemails to share what’s on your mind. Your AFR can consult the spreadsheet—a communications tool designed to help you reduce emails and interruptions—whenever he/she has time to focus on addressing your needs.

The more times you interrupt your staff, the more likely they will make mistakes, lose focus, feel frustrated and become inefficient. Your constant updates and inquiries are equivalent to having a pilot come on the intercom while you’re flying across the country to announce, “Thank you, passengers, for flying our airline! We will be making a short stop in Kansas for ice cream cones. This will cause a two hour delay.” How would you feel? (It really gives a whole new meaning to “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream” don’t you think?!)

Your staff may or may not be able to be open and honest with you about how your work style impacts them. They are likely quite used to it and don’t think any other way is possible. If you can take the time to retrain yourself to accommodate your team’s style they will more than meet you halfway—and maybe even take you out for a cone.

Coaching Tip Unleash Your Practice coaches teams all over the country and our coaches hear confidentially first hand from AFRs that FRs “can’t help it” and that’s “just how she/he is.” This is true! You can’t help the way you naturally take action. It’s in your DNA. What you can do is increase your awareness of how you take action, acknowledging that you have likely, wisely surrounded yourself with people who do things very differently than you do. Start by taking the Kolbe Index A and finding out if you are a Quick Start (90% of FRs are). No matter what your style, start by educating yourself and then have your team take the Kolbe. There are many simple ways the team members can learn to complement each other once there is more awareness. In fact, you can establish your whole practice around your unique style.