Editor’s Note: Karen Reitor, President of Communique Productions, is an author on Flevy and has published a series of 25+ best practice tools on Performance Management for the Financial Advising Services (FAS) vertical market. These tools, including training guides, templates, and forms, are used to develop and deploy the FAS Performance Management Process. The full suite of tools are available in the FAS Performance Management bundle (here).
Communique Productions, a boutique consultancy specializing in learner-centered and activity-based training, is one of Flevy’s premiere authors. Communique has worked with over 175 clients and completed over 3,000 talent development and management consulting projects, including a multitude in the Financial Advising Services (FAS) space. Over the years through their FAS client engagements, Communique has developed an FAS Performance Management System. This series of articles written by Karen discuss the FAS Performance Management System and its underlying roles and applications.
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Most Financial Advisors operate as “dependent entrepreneurs.” Because of their service and product affiliations, they are dependent on larger organizations where services and products are offered and managed for clients. Yet, they operate independently in managing their practices and growing their client networks and financial assets. Thus, Managing Principals and Financial Advisors are not necessarily skilled in managing support staff, particularly as it relates to performance management. There is often a notable lack of consistency, cohesiveness and accountability. Team members may not be held accountable because intangible performance measures have not been translated into tangible expectations that can be observed and measured.
Within this page, we outline the comprehensive approach Financial Advising Services (FAS) Performance Management that includes position-specific performance expectations, service standards and metrics and performance assessments among other tools. This FAS Performance Management System and set of recommend best practice tools have been developed by the Flevy author and consulting firm, Communique Productions. Both candidates-for-hire and existing staff learn what is expected and understand their roles in contributing to exceptional client care. Higher purposes and tangible measures are detailed for specific roles. Principals and Operation Managers have access to the necessary tools to objectively manage performance, and all staff are supported to succeed. Non- or under-performers are coached and required to demonstrate improvements, and high-performers enjoy greater satisfaction because they are no longer “dumped on.”
This FAS Performance Management System ensures better hires, a culture of teamwork, increased quality, effective coaching, evaluation and feedback, and increased satisfaction and retention. More engaged and productive team members help the Managing Principal and Financial Advisors be more competitive, successful and relevant. Clients on the receiving end experience improved communication, higher quality service and a cohesive focus on client satisfaction.
First, let’s begin with a discussion of challenges and opportunities within FAS Performance Management.
Challenges and Opportunities
So many principals in Communique’s FAS client firms have asked important questions related to FAS Performance Management. Here are the top 10 questions:
- How can we calculate the costs associated with non- or under-performing associates, including impacts on the morale and productivity of high performing coworkers?
- Is there a way we can connect instances of turnover and associated costs to an inability or unwillingness to hold associates accountable for non- or under-performance?
- Instead of blaming supervision and management, how do we prevent non-performing associates from blaming others for their own shortcomings?
- What would increasing individual performance mean to coworkers, clients and the firm?
- With an industry so dependent upon intangible “soft skills” to establish and maintain trusting relationships, how can we establish tangible performance measurements that are observable and objectively measurable?
- How can we recognize high performers and reward them?
- What can we do to coach and support our associates to succeed rather than immediately assume that non-performance is intentional?
- How do we inform staff and candidates seeking employment what they can expect regarding roles and responsibilities so there is no question about performance expectations?
- How do we ensure consistency in implementing a system for Performance Management to ensure fairness and avoid favoritism?
- How are we able to substantiate and justify feedback related to non-performance?
FAS Performance Management System
A Performance Management System developed under the Communique framework is used to achieve the following:
- Communicate performance expectations during the interviewing and selection process so candidates can assess their desire and ability to commit to the established position descriptions, assessment criteria, standards and metrics.
- Transform the firm by giving associates a higher purpose, assigning and holding associates accountable for specific roles and responsibilities that are tangible, observable and measurable.
- Consistently monitor, track and document performance.
- Identify knowledge-related performance gaps and document opportunities for continued development.
- Coach team members to succeed as knowledge gaps and/or performance issues are identified.
- Documented incidents are easily referenced to objectively complete probationary and periodic, as well as annual performance reviews/assessments and confidently substantiate and justify ratings.
- Provide documentation for initiating corrective action, if needed.
High-performing staff embrace the FAS Performance Management System, because of the following:
- Non- or under-performers are consistently held accountable.
- There is no favoritism because the focus is on work- and performance-related outcomes keeping everything objective and holding all team members accountable to established standards and metrics.
- High-performers do not get others’ work dumped on them.
- Increased employee satisfaction and respect for supervision and management for not allowing non-performance go unaddressed.
Furthermore, Human Resources staff appreciate that this Performance Management System includes the following:
- Job-specific tangible, observable and measurable expectations resulting in greater objectivity when evaluating performance.
- Consistent and complete documentation created and reviewed with associates as instances occur rather than supervision and management having to work from memory and undocumented, unsubstantiated claims.
- Informal and formal coaching to enhance communication and promote success, promoting retention and decreasing turnover.
- Consistency regarding accountability and increased satisfaction for high performers because there is a reduced chance of getting “dumped on” when non-performance are being held to the same standards and metrics.
- Support and justification for recognition, coaching sessions, Performance Review ratings, Individual Development Plans and disciplinary actions.
- Reductions in grievances and increases in attendance and retention.
The next article will dive into the FAS Performance Management Process.