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Interoffice Communication Do’s and Don’ts

Five key essentials to communicating with administrative assistants.

The administrative assistant research we’ve done over the years speaks volumes. Assistants feel they’re underpaid; advisors feel assistants are overpaid. Assistants feel overworked; advisors see a need for time management. We could go on, but we’re guessing you’ve seen one or two ineffective advisor/assistant relationships. Communication is the root of most of these issues.

How can this be? Advisors talk with their assistants all throughout the day. There’s a big difference between task-related communication and leadership-driven, performance-specific conversation. We've found five fundamentals of communication used by elite financial teams, whether they are two-person or one of the industry’s largest. Consider these preventative maintenance against morale issues, lack of engagement, miscommunication and more:

  1. Effective Team Meetings – Come together around important team issues and initiatives.

Do: Meet weekly, have an agenda, assign meeting responsibilities, encourage collaboration, stick to set a time

Don’t: Let one team member commandeer the meeting, skip meetings, get off topic 

 

  1. Daily Huddles – Hold quick stand-up meetings to discuss everyone’s objectives for the day.

Do: Meet early in the morning, get specific with action items, ask others what they need from you

Don’t: Let it turn into an “I can do more than you” conversation, get off topic, get into the big picture

 

  1. Team Offsites – Meet once or twice a year, out of the office, to discuss your vision and strategy.

Do: Get out of the office, engage everyone in the discussion, have a little fun, get to know each other

Don’t: Bite off more actions than the team can take, leave the conversation at 30,000 ft., make it boring

 

  1. Performance Reviews – Arrange individual meetings to discuss performance and expectations.

Do: Discuss the good and bad, solicit their opinion, make specific plans, help them advance their career

Don’t: Treat this as a “hammer” for performance issues, get personal, be unrealistic, be condescending

 

  1. As-Needed Communication – Use the appropriate means of communication throughout the workday.

Do: Use email only when needed, meet personally for complex discussions, be aware of your timing

Don’t: Pop in too often, buzz people unnecessarily, take too long to get to the point

These five activities won’t fix every team issue, but they’re a helpful blend of big-picture thinking, attention to the small stuff, and helping each team member reach their full potential. Only incorporating one or two of these activities? Pick one more to engage…you can’t turn a ship on a dime.

@StephenBoswell is President of The Oechsli Institute and author of Best Practices of Elite Advisors@KevinANichols is the Chief Operating Officer for The Oechsli Institute and author of The Indispensable LinkedIn Sales Guide for Financial Advisors.

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