Leading Transformation Ain’t For The Faint Hearted

Leading Transformation Ain’t For The Faint Hearted

If you’re trying to change your team or company’s culture, take some deep breaths, buckle up, and get your grown-up pants on.

You’ll probably want to play the ‘phone a friend’ card while you’re at it too.

Leading transformation ain’t for the faint-hearted. In fact, if the process of “trying to change the way things are done around here” was a race – it’d be a marathon, not a sprint. (Probably more like a marathon, with a few sprints thrown in for good measure.)

In one 2015 McKinsey survey, only 26 percent of respondents said the transformations they were most familiar with have been very or completely successful at both improving performance and equipping the organisation to sustain improvements over time. In the 2012 survey, 20 percent of executives said the same.

As I said, not for the faint-hearted.

So even if you claim you don’t have time to read books, or you assert that “reading is not my thing” – in this instance, you should devour these seminal books on leading change, and do so quick smart.

Even if you’ve already embarked on your change journey, it’s usually not too late to correct course.

By becoming familiar with these experts and following their sage advice, you’ll save yourself (and your team) a world of pain.

  1. John Kotter – Leading Change

John’s book, Leading Change – is still THE seminal reading on leading transformation. He neatly outlines the eight errors that organisations make when leading change, and provides a nifty eight-step process to avoid these traps. Nifty to read, and especially nifty if you can follow them.

Favourite sound bite? “By far the biggest mistake people make when trying to change organisations is to plunge ahead without establishing a high enough sense of urgency in fellow managers and employees. This error is fatal because transformations always fail … when complacency levels are high.”

My tip: Create a burning platform – it’s a sure-fire way to kill those insidious saboteurs of successful change – apathy and complacency.

  1. Carolyn Taylor – Walking the Talk: Building a Culture for Success

I first heard Carolyn talk at an ICF conference – she was a total standout. She’s one of the world’s foremost experts in organisational culture change and the CEO of Walking the Talk. During her 30 years in the field, Carolyn has run workshops with 50,000 leaders, worked alongside 200 culture change journeys, consulted on 15 mergers and acquisitions, coached 60 CEOs, and worked in 35 countries. A bit of an over-achiever in the change game, wouldn’t you say?

Her book, Walking the Talk: Building a Culture for Success was described by Strategic HR Review as “the most detailed, practical and readable book on how to change organisational culture.”

Favourite sound bite? “Spend as much, if not more attention to values, beliefs, actions and symbols as you do to outcomes, delivery of strategy and communication.”

  1. Chip Heath and Dan Heath – Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

What I love about this book is that the Heath brothers delve into the psychology of change and why it’s so darn hard. The book helps you to look at creating change in yourself and others in a different way; seeing the good things about why you should change and why it was better before. I’m a huge fan of their book Decisive – and Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard doesn’t disappoint either.

Favourite sound bite? “A good change leader never thinks, “Why are these people acting so badly? They must be bad people.” A change leader thinks, “How can I set up a situation that brings out the good in these people?”

So do it – get on your horse and go west! Lead the charge on that change – because it might not only lead to great things for you and your organisation, it might even mean the difference between survival and ruin.

But just don’t dive in without turning to these clever people first.

Soak up their sage suggestions.

Suzi McAlpine
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Suzi McAlpine is a leadership development specialist based in New Zealand. With a background as an international executive search consultant, practice leader, business ow ... Click for full bio

Solving Your Biggest Client Issue May Be at Your Fingertips

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.

Related: What's an Investor to Do When History Doesn't Repeat Itself?

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).
GWG Holdings, Inc.
Investing in Life
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GWG Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq:GWGH) the parent company of GWG Life, is a financial services company committed to transforming the life insurance industry through disruptive and i ... Click for full bio