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When I met Matthew Farrell, Principal of Five Pillars Financial Planning, he was in the process of selecting a new financial planner to support the growth of his business.
Matthew was impressed with a candidate but confided that one of the traps he’d fallen into in the past was loving someone at the interview, only to find they didn’t live up to expectations on the job. This is a familiar scenario, especially when faced with a charming and enthusiastic interviewee.
To ensure he didn’t make the same mistake this time, Matthew decided to use Harrison Assessments to determine the candidate’s suitability for the role.
Matthew was keen to:
1. Have a quick answer and
2. Ensure the candidate had traits that met the specific requirements of the business.
Within 24 hours of our first conversation, Matthew had the result he needed and within 48 hours, the candidate had been offered and had accepted the role. This is how we did it:
1. After the first meeting, we sent the candidate a ‘questionnaire invitation’ so that he could complete the online assessment overnight.
2. We sent Matthew a draft job template for him to consider.
3. Next morning, Matthew and I discussed the template and I made adjustments to the template online.
4. The candidate had completed the assessment so we were able to immediately run the reports, comparing him to the customised template.
5. Matthew and I discussed the reports and the candidate’s suitability straight away.
We asked Matthew to comment on his experience of using the Harrison Assessments:
“I was looking for an objective assessment tool that took away the temptation of me being swayed by the candidate’s pleasing personality and charm. I wanted to know if the candidate possessed the internal qualities required to perform in the position.
We had always tested for aptitude or the ability to perform the technical aspects of the position but we lacked a process to tackle the question of whether the prospective candidate had the disposition or personal qualities necessary to thrive in their new role.”
TIP: Don’t let your heart rule your head! Get some objective advice before you make decisions about the people in your business.
There have been a number of recent changes at the federal government level in Australia that affect employers. We recommend you take the time to find out more about them.
1. Fair Work Bill
Significant changes to industrial relations are on the way and they will affect your business. The Fair Work Bill 2008 will come into operation on 1 July 2009, with full changes to be in place by 1 January 2010. At the same time, an award modernisation process is underway. You’ll find detailed fact sheets at workplace.gov.au
New unfair dismissal laws (from 1 July) are likely to have the most immediate impact on our readers. More information on fair dismissal can be found in the fact sheet provided on our website for your convenience.
In preparation for the changes:
2. Fresh Ideas for Work and Family Program
The Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Julia Gillard, announced the launch of the Fresh Ideas for Work and Family program on 1 March 2009.
This national initiative provides grants of $5000 to $15000 to successful small businesses to implement practices that help employees balance their work and family obligations and improve employee retention and productivity. Information on how to use the grant is available from experts in workplace flexibility, Flexibility at Work.
The program aims to assist small businesses across regional and metropolitan areas. It is designed to support projects that benefit both the employer and employees, demonstrate long-term sustainable outcomes for the business and have the potential for wider application to other businesses. Applications will be accepted from:
Further information on family friendly work arrangements, work-life balance and the program is available at http://www.deewr.gov.au/WorkplaceRelations/FreshIdeas/Pages/default.aspx or call the Workplace Infoline from 8am to 7pm Monday to Friday on 1300 363 264 or email FIWF@deewr.gov.au.
3. Federal Budget 2009
The Budget has a number of consequences for employers that you should discuss with your advisers:
It’s important that you’re aware of these issues in case you need to take action. We can then point you in the right direction to get assistance to make any necessary changes.
Mayor of Penrith, Jim Aitken OAM, celebrates 50 years as an entrepreneur this year.
Jim’s first enterprise was selling papers, magazines and cigarettes from a window at Penrith railway station. Today his businesses include real estate, restaurants and gift shops and employ over 200 people. We asked Jim to share some of his people management experiences and insights.
Thought is the original source of all wealth, all success, all material gain, all great discoveries and inventions and of all achievements.
Claude M. Bristol
1. What are the three most important things a manager needs to keep in mind when managing staff?
Management is knowing your staff and knowing your business, the rest is logistics. Many businesses today are rapidly losing power to create a future. If the business is to project itself into the future and have meaning the managing director would do well to focus on three immutable truths:
i. Give the personnel a sense of ownership
Each person in the business at Jim Aitken & Partners has a sense of ownership. The acceptance of personal responsibility is what separates the superior person from the average person.
Personal responsibility is the pre-eminent trait of leadership and the wellspring of high performance in every person and every situation. Accepting ownership of that part of the business in which personnel are engaged and accepting responsibility for the part of the business they “own” means that they take responsibility for their own results with absolutely no excuses.
They are responsible partners in the business and the degree of responsibility accepted determines the degree of growth.
ii. It’s not a sin to have a problem
For some staff, problems are overwhelming. Most problems in businesses can be solved and the best way to solve a problem is to share it immediately with the manager and that manager must evaluate it and share it with the rest of the organisation. This sets up a risk framework which allows any problem to be dealt with. We do not escape responsibility by attempting to pass it off on someone else.
Having a problem and making excuses, or blaming someone else, weakens the staff member and weakens their resolve by turning control over to other people. They become passive and resigned rather than powerful and proactive. Instead of feeling on top of the world, they work as though the world is on top of them. This is a dead-end road which this company refuses to travel.
The only sin about having a problem is the sin of not sharing it. Sharing and resolving are growth factors in any company.
iii. Ensure the company becomes a learning company
It has been thought for some time that the future belongs to the competent. In my view the future belongs to the omnicompetent. The future belongs to the people that are very good at what they do and who are getting better every single day.
To earn more you must learn more. You must add more value. Staff must be developed to become better, to be developed to their highest competency and to make better and more important contributions.
This is not a one sided view of management. When a business competes with like businesses, the consumer sees similar products and similar services. Why should a consumer choose my business? The answer must be because we have better people. We want people who can move from a selling mode to a management mode and the consumer to see the obvious difference in management skills. To give the consumer confidence that their affairs are in professional hands. In the hands of people with superior knowledge and skills.
This is not only good for business but character developing for staff. When we become excellent at what we do, our lives change completely. Self-esteem, self respect and personal pride all increase dramatically. Staff feel good about themselves. They will be respected and admired by their clients.
A key factor in management is to nurture this type of growth and personal development in staff. The rewards will be a growth in business.
2. What advice would you give someone about to employ their first staff member?
It is a fact of life that the personality and characteristic of a person defines what work they will give themselves to with all their energy. Why are some people more successful and effective than others doing the same work?
The most important point for any employer is to understand the future employee and determine from them at the interview what it is that they really want to achieve in their lives.
Many employment programs have been heavily competency based. What is of the most benefit to an employer is the pleasant smile and the can-do frame of mind.
Any job may be accomplished adequately but the negative waves and passive resistance brought about by poor attitudes can create a great threat to productivity
Success in life is not just about ability or knowledge but about attitude. When looking at a prospective employee it should be remembered we can only study the past but we can design the future. If we are going to design the future of the company we may as well do it with attitude.
3. What do you know now that you wished you’d known earlier about people management?
Management was always about corporate planning, strategic planning, implementation and feed-back. Today psychologists have discovered that the very act of observing behaviour tends to change that behaviour for the better. This is a breakthrough in understanding personal performance. This critical discovery contains the key to dramatically improving the quality of life and I wish I had realised this long before I did.
Much earlier I would have closely monitored every action of staff and set specific measures and goals. We have Key Performance Indicators which point the way business is moving, but these KPIs are not called in for review at regular enough time frames. The upgrading of staff knowledge and skills must not be ad hoc. Monitoring results, goals and performances must be on a daily basis. In other words, appraisals are a daily fact of life. This, in effect, is monitoring areas of excellence.
Without such monitoring it is easy for staff to fall into the trap of spending more time on the 80% in areas which are not productive to themselves or the company. By daily appraisals we focus of the 10 or 20% of the activities that account for 80 to 90% of successful results. We examine the tasks that that yield the highest returns and rewards relative to the cost and effort of performing those activities.
Daily accountability and monitoring results is organising work life so that more and more higher value tasks are pursued.
4. What do you find most rewarding about your business achievements?
The most rewarding aspect of my business is to know that it is achieving its purpose. The purpose creates the context for everything the business does. Everything it does should relate or contribute to the fulfilment of that purpose.
To be most useful, a company’s purpose should describe the benefits that are delivered to the client when they use our product or service, rather than simply describe what the products and services are. My business does provide a quality of life for over 200 people and brings a return on investment.
I believe value is based solely on our clients’ opinions and only our clients can tell us whether or not we have been successful.
In the light of this the most rewarding part about business achievement is simply my mantra;
Profits are not the end in themselves. Instead they become a a measure of how successfully the company is fulfilling its ultimate purpose.
It is a customer-focused company guided by a “What more can we do for them?” philosophy. The company develops a deep understanding of the daily experiences of the clients which in turn leads to new thinking which may better serve the client’s needs.
5. What other insights would you like to share with our readers?
Commit to Excellence. Successful people are very good at what they do. Commit to excellence in your work and resolve to be part of the top 10% in your field.
Have a very strong culture of people-building in the business. Build up your leaders from inside the company. People aspire to grow their businesses so rather than be title driven (seeking positions in the company) be business driven.
Encourage staff to see themselves as self-employed. When staff accept responsibility for their business lives, they see begin to see themselves as self-employed. No matter who signs the pay cheque, they are in charge of their own business. They will see themselves as an entrepreneur even though it may be a company of one. They will see themselves as responsible for every element of their work, control, training, development, communication, productivity improvement and finances.
Such staff will not make excuses. Instead, they will make progress.
Would you like to share your business experience to help others? Please comment!
If you would like to be interviewed for this series, or you would like to suggest someone we should talk to, please let us know.
You already understand the importance of excellent practice management in helping you deliver on your client value proposition. When you look at businesses that really shine, regardless of their size, age, market or niche, their success can always be traced back to having exceptional employees. Attracting and retaining exceptional employees – the best talent – is only sustainable with exceptional employment practices.
Data linking people management practices to financial returns was published in the Future Ready III whitepaper by Business Health in April 2007. In their data analysis of over 1000 advisory practices in Australia, they found that those with effective people management practices (majority of staff have job descriptions, individual objectives, regular reviews and awareness of the high level business goals) had profits 159% higher than those with ineffective people management practices.
The simple practice of having job descriptions for your staff can have a dramatic effect on profits. Practices with job descriptions for more than half of their employees were found to have profit levels at 125% above those with fewer staff with job descriptions. This is equivalent to an extra $101,096 profit per principal.
A detailed organisational structure with clear roles, responsibilities and reporting lines will form the basis of job descriptions. The time invested will be repaid many times over when everyone knows what they’re doing and why. If you already have job descriptions in place, ensure you keep them up to date and relevant by consulting the current incumbents.
What should you include in a job description? At a minimum, a job description includes:
When you build on the job description with personal objectives (KPIs) and a structured performance management process, you are developing systems that have been shown to have a positive impact on business financial performance, according to the Business Health whitepaper.
The next article in this series will look at the when, where and how of finding and selecting the best talent for your practice. For more information on people management for your practice, contact Susan Rochester on 1300 785 150 or firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’re a successful financial adviser, it’s because you love your clients and excel at explaining complex issues in simple terms. Doing these things gives you energy and brings in the dollars.
To really prosper, you need to spend as much time as possible on these tasks. This blog will help you do that by sharing articles, videos, checklists and practical advice on managing your staff. Visit whenever you need some relief from people management headaches.
For now, take 20 minutes to watch this thought-provoking video about work:
[ted id = http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/477]