As technology has changed the way advisory firms operate, we have evolved into a mind-set of faster and better. However, a workplace of "faster" doesn’t always translate to "better."
As we all know, managing an advisory firm is complicated. Working in a faster environment is creating a culture of the two-minute rule—quick is more important than correct. Our industry is not well served operating in a quick-fix manner.
Here are three scenarios in which slowing it down can be more effective, and my suggestions toward moving away from the two-minute rule.
The Two-Minute Email
We’ve all seen those SCATHING EMAILS IN ALL CAPS!!!!!! We know how this happens, as we have been in situations where we want to send a shout-out message to those who can’t understand that we are RIGHT!
The reality is, those emails don’t provide constructive criticism. Think about the level of respect you will have from colleagues, managers and subordinates after reading the email. How will your future request, or favor, be received from people who remember that email?
My suggestion: Provide constructive comments rather than criticizing staff in an email. Take the time to mention one or two positive statements about the work done before offering clearer instructions. Remember that the issues are most likely a result of mistakes, while emotional emails are a deliberate act.
The Two-Minute Solution
Clients don’t always appreciate when I find fault with their two-minute solution. In many instances, advisors see a problem and immediately want to implement a quick fix and move on. It’s a challenge to convince advisors that their solution is the wrong one for the issue at hand, or that band-aid solutions are just that and don’t address the real problem.
Many problems have been lingering in a small manner and aren’t noticed until they blossom into a big deal. Rather than addressing the cause, the first solution that comes to mind is implemented. The downside of a quick fix is it could be the wrong solution or could negatively impact other areas that weren’t part of the problem. Have you, or anyone in your firm, made a quick fix to a spreadsheet only to have all the cells suddenly display “N/A”?
My suggestion: Understand that our minds can’t solve problems as quickly as technology. Many problems are a result of several integrated areas working together and require a deeper analysis to find the underlying cause. Ask for ideas before acting upon your quick fix, including what could go wrong with your solution. Your goal is to achieve a well-thought-out analysis to determine the right solution.
The Two-Minute Discussion
Throughout my career, I’ve had many two-minute requests that resulted in another conversation that began with, “I’m sorry, that’s not what I meant,” followed by additional minutes to explain. Why couldn’t we spend the time upfront to ensure a complete understanding? Our message gets lost in translation when we only have two minutes to discuss a situation or problem. You would be frustrated if a client gave the same “That’s not what I meant” response.
My suggestion: Consider the people in the discussions and the level of detail required for the topic to be understood. Where appropriate, include a goal with the task or request. Whenever I am unsure of a client’s request, I ask what the goal is to see if the request is in line with that goal. If not, I ask questions to ensure the request is accurate.
Visualize what the workplace culture would be like if we remember to apply our human touch to managing our business. Let’s strive for a workplace culture that isn’t filled with two-minute apologies.
This article originally appeared on the Susan Glover blog.