During an uncertain or falling market, you need to be aware of the way economic events affect you and your team. The same stress your clients are feeling could be impacting the folks who help you run your practice.
Whether they’re thinking them or asking aloud, here are some of the questions your teammates may be pondering:
- Many of our clients are really worried; I feel bad for them. When will I be able to stop worrying and get a good night’s sleep?
- Our team’s business is down. How will this affect my compensation?
- Will I get a year-end bonus? Is my job in jeopardy? Is anyone else’s job in jeopardy?
- My investments are way down. What is the impact on my retirement?
- Our firm has been sold. How does this affect our team? Is our benefit plan going to change? Will they close our branch? Will we have to change broker-dealers?
You need to answer these questions but you may not have the time or the opportunity to address them individually. In a great many cases your actions will speak louder than your words. The confidence you display in the way your team is dealing with your clients and the markets will go a long way to relieving concerns. The confidence you exhibit will be echoed in contacts with clients and prospects. Your confidence will lead to opportunities to capture new assets, uncover referrals and stabilize or grow your production.
- Manage your emotions — Don’t wear your emotions on your sleeves. You set the tone for your office so you need to watch both your temper and your nerves. Your actions and emotions will have both direct and indirect affects on the way your teammates carry out their responsibilities. If you’re feeling down or angry, don’t let it come out in a way that creates unintended consequences. If you need to regain your composure try to close your office door to get some peace and quiet or take a walk around the block for some simple exercise.Your attitude matters to your team; they’re watching how you handle things around your office. Over the years I have taught a number of simple “attitude adjustment” techniques. Each is based on the concept that success is derived from a positive frame of mind. From time to time you simply need to take a step back before moving forward. Read 7 Tips for Getting More Out of Each Day for more details.
- Hold daily team updates — All members of your team need to know what you’re saying to your clients and prospects. With the daily onslaught of economic news you may be altering opinions. As the markets swing wildly from day-to-day you’re regularly reanalyzing the impact on your portfolios. Don’t keep your thoughts a secret; hold daily team briefings. Taking five to ten minutes to speak with your team allows them to synthesize the news themselves. Then they can better respond to questions they receive from current and future clients. For better overall team meetings you may want to read Eight Tips for Successful Meetings.
- Remind your team that actions matter – You also need to preserve your clients’ confidence. What you do is more important than what you say. Your actions, not good thoughts or intentions, will determine the level of respect your clients have for you and your team. This is a critical time to avoid empty promises; you need to over-deliver. Now more than ever, maintaining your clients’ respect will lead to greater loyalty, more business and increased referrals.
- Keep a “Most Worried” clients list — Every practice has clients who are more concerned by recent events than others. These clients may call your office frequently and interact with multiple members of your team. Some of these folks may speak with you while others may be relying on your staff. You should keep a list of these clients so you can give them the attention they require. At the same time you are isolating these relationships in a way that will prevent them from overly impacting your office environment. You cannot afford to have a relatively small group of clients set the tenor for your entire office.
- Address compensation or continued employment concerns — You cannot predict how the current markets will impact your bottom line. This means bonuses, raises and even the continued employment of some members of your team members may be open issues. Your teammates may be aware of these possibilities so you need to be as open as possible.Take the time to offer general support and reassurance. It’s your team and you are the leader.Where compensation is predicated on revenues or bonuses are based on subjective criteria, individually pull your team members aside to hold direct conversation. Don’t beat around the bush; it may only make things worse. Employment concerns are much more difficult. Team members may be concerned for themselves or for their co-workers. Human Resources requirements, common sense and emotions all play a role. Do your best to minimize this type of worry.
- Do something special for your teammates — Make sure the members of your team know how important they are to you and your clients. Surprise them from time-to-time. On periodic Fridays you could give your assistant the afternoon off to get a head start on the weekend. Once each week you might consider buying your whole team a pizza lunch. When you’re shopping; look for small gifts or tokens of appreciation. For more ideas you can read Don’t Forget to Thank Your Team and A Time to Say Thanks.
Market turbulence may be affecting your teammates. The same stress you and your clients are feeling is probably impacting the folks who help you keep your practice on track. Showing confidence in your team will help alleviate their concerns; this will ultimately lead to opportunities to capture assets, grow referrals and boost your production.