What words come to mind when you think of a successful advisor branch team? The answers I usually hear include partnership, team, collaboration, communication, positivity, focus, and synergy.
While these characteristics may seem self-evident, they aren’t always easily implemented, especially if you’re trying to break bad habits that may have developed over the years. In a series of posts, I’m going to discuss the three most common problems branches have: lack of communication, differing priorities, and not sticking to the plan. In order to provide the best care and assistance to your clients, your branch should run as flawlessly as possible, so I will also provide tangible action steps to resolve these setbacks.
The first issue I’d like to tackle is lack of communication. Communication issues permeate every inch of a branch and its ability to operate effectively, so until it is in top shape, you won’t be as effective in trying to address any other branch issues.
Whether it’s because the team has worked together for so long and have their engrained habits, or because it’s a newer team that you’re still getting used to, a lack of communication can cause major problems. The answer isn’t as simple as “communicate more.” It’s learning how to communicate effectively and efficiently. I’ve outlined a set of helpful tips that can enable better communication and collaboration within the branch.
1. Choose your timing. Sharing information is key to a successful branch, but that information isn’t always shared at an appropriate or productive time. If I’m concentrating on a task, and you tell me about something unrelated in passing, it’s not likely I’ll remember it. Select a time when the team can focus on sharing information and collaborating on ideas without interruption.
2. Find the right balance. Everyone on the team probably doesn’t need to know every detail of what everyone else is working on. Strive to find the balance between the high-level overview most want and the detailed version some need.
3. Manage conflict. Contrary to popular belief, conflict can be a healthy and constructive part of any branch. It can fuel creativity and open up new possibilities, as long as it is managed properly. Being able to communicate in an objective and non-aggressive manner is key for navigating these issues and producing a positive outcome.
4. Create a safe zone. Block off a time on a regular basis where everyone can speak freely about the office, such as what is going well, what can be approved upon, or any other issues that have arisen. This should be a time of constructive communication to work toward a more efficient office.
When a branch follows a set of guidelines and learns to communicate effectively, it leaves time and energy for the entire team to focus on better serving the clients. Putting the effort into following these simple steps to create those guidelines can pay dividends toward the health of your branch.
Jill T. Slomski and Niche Team, LLC are not affiliates or subsidiaries of Hartford Funds.