Do You Underappreciate Your Employees?
“Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.” —Malcolm Forbes
I see the impact of the above Malcolm Forbes quote in almost every organization I work with. Leaders tend to put more emphasis on what employees are not than on what they are. Are you undervaluing your employees? Here are a few of the most common causes for undervaluing what your employees really have to offer.
Trust in the wrong people
One of the biggest barriers to valuing the contributions of your employees is that you are trusting the wrong people’s opinion. You need to recognize that many managers and supervisors have their own personal agendas. Often, some of your best employees are viewed as threats or competition rather than valued assets. I know that most of you are thinking that this is not an issue in your organization; I guarantee that it is.
Poor internal systems
Another obstacle to placing the value on your employees that they deserve is poor internal processes and systems. When you have a weak link in your process, the blame for failure is often misplaced on the employees working within that system. Before you devalue the contributions that your employees are making to the success of the organization, make sure you haven’t built failure into your processes.
Lack of information
Access to information is another factor that has a huge impact on the perception of how valuable an employee is. When employees lack the pertinent information they need their deliverables are seen as deficient. I can’t tell you how many times I hear leaders tell me that their employees should be asking the questions. The problem with this thinking is that, more times than not, they don’t know what they don’t know. It is the responsibility of management to make sure employees have all of the information they need. Make sure that your employees have the information, tools, resources, and support necessary to do their jobs effectively.
Looking at the wrong things
Everyone has strengths and everyone has weakness. Would you want to be judged solely on your weaknesses? Of course not, so make sure you are not doing this to your employees. Make sure you are basing your evaluation of their value as much if not more on their strengths rather than their areas of weakness.
Employees do become less productive when they are not engaged in their work. This does not necessarily make them less valuable to the organization. The key is to figure out how to keep employees engaged and making meaningful contributions to the success of the organization. Disengagement is often the result of having little or no opportunity for professional growth and a lack of appreciation for the hard work employees are actually putting forth. Don’t start to undervalue your employees before you make sure you are keeping them engaged.
Keep Your Finger on the Pulse of Employee Value
You cannot base the value of an employee solely on the opinion of others; others have personal agendas. You cannot hold employees accountable for your poor processes and systems; make sure you build systems that work. You cannot expect exceptional work from employees who are not given the information and tools they need to do their jobs; remember, you can’t expect them to know what they don’t know they don’t know. Do not judge employee solely on their areas of weakness; you wouldn’t want to be judged on yours. And, don’t write off an employee’s value just because they have become disengaged; it’s your responsibility to offer an engaging work environment with ample opportunities for growth. As a leader, it is your responsibility to keep your finger on the pulse of employee value. Value is an individual property; it is not a determination that you can leave in the hands of others. Make sure you are valuing employees for what they are.
Solving Your Biggest Client Issue May Be at Your Fingertips
Written by: Shileen Weber
When the American Funds’ Capital Group asked 400 advisors last year to name the biggest issues they face in their businesses, it wasn’t the DOL, market uncertainty or the economy that sat in the center of the idea cloud of answers.
It was client issues.
At a time when regulatory concerns and market turbulence would seem to be at all-time highs, the advisors who answered the survey were most concerned about servicing their clients as well as ways to find new ones and grow their businesses.
It’s one of the ironies of the business, that the things most people find so hard to manage – creating financial plans, managing assets and staying ahead of events – are what advisors find to be the easiest parts of the business. Marketing - the business of selling themselves – can be the area advisors find the hardest elements to master.
In this age of instant communication, it can be even more intimidating to market your practice, especially to younger clients for whom many traditional methods like newsletters, postcards and phone calls don’t work anymore. For them, email is the preferred way to get information, and, if it’s important, they are more likely to respond to texts, not phone calls.
But, it doesn’t have to be that hard. The digital age gives you access to ideas and content of all kinds you can use to touch your clients in a way that positions you as a valuable resource. The key is to keep it simple, stick to some basics and create consistent outreach that clients and potential clients are interested in and will appreciate you sharing with them.
Here is a common-sense approach you can take that will not require you to hire an expensive agency or take valuable time away from managing your clients’ assets and running your business.
Content is King
Create a content calendar for the year: Think about reasons to touch a client 13 times during the year – that can be once a month and on their birthday. (The common rule of sales is that it takes at least 7-13 touches to make a connection.) The number is limited and keeps you from inundating the clients who likely already feel inundated with content. You can take the seasonal approach – tax planning in the fall, January for account review content, college financing in the spring – and supplement it with topical events during the year. Creating a calendar will help you stick to a plan. Here’s one resource for a content calendar.
Review what content is already available to you: Basically, this means finding the resources you already have and determining what pieces will be most valuable to your clients. Start first by checking out content your broker-dealer already generates that you can personalize. Many firms have economists who write regularly about the market. That’s content you can pass along to keep clients up-to-date they would not have access to anywhere else. In addition to your broker-dealer, mutual funds, your clearing firm, and money managers are all excellent sources of informative and even analytical content.
Personalize the content you use: Add your name, the client’s name or some way to avoid making it feel like canned content that you are using just to check the outreach box. See what capabilities your email program may have to help you.
The birthday strategy: One advisor used clients’ birthdays in a new way. Instead of the card or lunch date, the advisor asked the client’s spouse for a list of friends he could invite to a birthday lunch and made it a memorable event that was also a soft approach to getting referrals.
Become a curator of good content: What your review will show you is that you don’t have to generate the content yourself. You can point clients to pieces you find insightful. You are likely already doing this every day just to keep yourself informed. The next step is to compile it and send out the very best pieces to your clients, again, with a note with your own thoughts about why you found it valuable.
Find out what is working and do more of it: Use your client interactions, in-person and online, to find out what types of content clients liked and any they didn’t. You can use tracking on your emails to see how many were opened as a measurement tool, but the personal interactions tend to provide more insight than raw data.
Be disciplined about your execution: Get help from an office assistant or schedule the time each month to do the content development and outreach. As any good strategy, if you make it a habit, it won’t seem so hard.
Most importantly, be yourself and be personal: You may want to regularly get personal by talking about your family and hobbies. The ultimate is if you can provide content that is personal to your clients, not just about their investments – they get that from their statements, apps and online portals. Think alma maters, hobbies, children and parents.
Of course, as a disclaimer, you have to make sure all content and communications are complying with regulations and the rules of your own broker-dealer.
The process of creating a plan will get you thinking about your clients in a new way. That exercise alone can re-energize your business and get you seeing marketing opportunities in places you may never have seen them before.
Shileen Weber is Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications at GWG Holdings. She was previously Director of Online Strategy and Client Experience at RBC Wealth Management, where they placed first in two JD Power and Associates U.S. Full Service Investor Satisfaction Study (2011 and 2013).
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