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5 ways to enhance your business culture

The culture of the financial planning industry has taken a bit of a battering in recent weeks. For those practices with employees, who are committed to building a client-centric culture, here are my five top people-related initiatives.

Correctly implemented, these activities will enhance your ability to create an environment that places the client at its core. 

1.    Complete a cultural diagnostic
Unless you regularly ask for and receive feedback from your employees that makes you uncomfortable, it is unlikely that you have a strong understanding of your authentic culture.  

People are complex. If, as a leader or manager, no one is telling you the stuff that you don't want to hear or is tricky to solve, it might seem reasonable to assume that it's all smooth sailing. However, the chances are that you are just looking in the wrong direction and people don't feel that it's safe to tell you the truth.

A cultural diagnostic will help you understand where your organisation is really at. If your current culture doesn't align with your preferred culture, you can then take steps to move it in the right direction with the support of your staff.

2.    Define your core values

Understand what you represent. Simply put, your values should be your anchor for all business decisions. It is not necessary to have an exhaustive list. In fact, limiting your practice to two to three core values is highly recommended. The more you have the less likely you are to do any of them justice.

You can complement your core values by creating a competency framework, which outlines the key behaviours and attributes you require from employees and what these look like for different roles across the business.  

3.    Conduct behavioural profiling

Before hiring or promoting employees have the top one or two candidates complete a behavioural profile. This will help you understand how they go about their work. For example, do they like the idea of being part of a team, yet have strong preferences for avoiding conflict and find it difficult to exert authority? 

Once equipped with this information you can make a more informed decision as to whether this is the right person for your business. Further, if you do decide to engage or promote the individual, you know upfront the areas where they will require support and the strengths that you can, and should, leverage. 

4.    Align your reward and recognition 

Organisations often fall into the trap of failing to reward the behaviours that are critical to building the culture they desire. Typically, this is due to the fact that these behaviours are more subjective and therefore, require greater effort to define and observe than the organisation's financial results.

A balanced scorecard is one way of overcoming this issue. A balanced scorecard places equal weight on four core components: financial, clients, business systems (compliance) and people.

5.    Implement a performance development framework

Also commonly referred to as performance management, a good performance development system aligns individual goals with the organisation's goals and develops the employee by giving them regular, direct feedback.   

Scientific evidence demonstrates that when effectively implemented, performance development is among the most powerful processes for increasing employee performance, both in terms of productivity and engagement. Further, engaged employees form an emotional connection with the organisation that helps them to deliver the level of service and client care required to build trusting and loyal client relationships.

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“Kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain