Process Overkill

Control is just one aspect of the performance equation; results centering around increasing assets revenue is another.

Houston: During a discussion near the end of a workshop I was leading, I asked for examples of actions participants had taken to improve team performance. Doug, the leader of a four-person team, enthusiastically told us that he had recently hired a process consulting group to help them with performance improvement. Knowing how expensive that can be, I asked Doug if he was satisfied with the results. "Very satisfied," he replied, so I asked him for a few details.

I quickly found that Doug's idea of "results" was incomplete. He explained that prior to working with this consulting group, too many things were falling through the cracks. Their clients weren't being adequately served because his team members weren't working together. His solution was "to get things under control" -- and that they did! Doug's team now has a defined process and written procedure for everything. For now, at least, it seems that things are "under control."

As I listened to Doug, I found myself thinking: "Control is just one aspect of the performance equation; results centering around increasing assets revenue is another." So I asked him, "Is your business growing? Are you getting more introductions and referrals from your better-served clients? Are you fully monetizing existing clients? And most important, are you attracting more new affluent clients than ever before?" Doug's answer, after a quiet moment of reflection was, "Not really."

Process should always be linked to performance, and performance to results. Process creates structure, but when applied in the absence of performance results, it can quickly become a control factor that confines. When process in the fullest sense is linked to performance results, the focus is on improvement that expands both present and potential capabilities. Doug's team is suffering from process overkill because his initial objective was incomplete. He neglected to first realign their processes to the business growth results they are committed to achieve. Probing further, Doug admitted several things ...

  • They still have too many small accounts.
  • They are not bringing in new affluent clients, and they have few prospects in the pipeline.
  • Following their carefully written procedures too often becomes an excuse for avoiding what is really important for growing their business.
  • They now have so many forms to fill out, valuable time is wasted.

Being efficient about what you do is important, so long as what you do is effectively taking you where you want to go. That is what I mean by achieving the right performance results. Let's look at each dimension.

Effectively Taking You Where You Want To Go

If you were an archer, the first thing you would learn to do is keep your eye on the target. Watch an expert archer prepare to shoot and you will see what I mean. They could place the arrow on the bow blindfolded, and that allows them to fix their eyes and concentrate on the center of target while they get set to shoot.

Your entire team must exercise that same power of concentration, only your target consists of three vital center rings ...

  • The specific clients you are determined to retain and your commitment to lose no clients for any reasons other than those beyond your control.
  • The specific clients you are determined to fully monetize (upgrade) through your efforts to reposition your team to coordinate the multidimensional aspects of their wealth.
  • The strategies and Fixed Daily Activities (FDAs) you are committed to perform in order to bring in 10 to 15 new affluent relationships over the next 12 months.

These specific client retention, upgrade, and attraction goals must constantly define and refine your team's performance improvement efforts, both collectively and individually.

Being Efficient About What You Do

Any performance standards and written procedures you establish need to meet two critical criteria ...

  • They must be directed toward the achievement of your client retention, upgrade, and attraction goals -- as noted above.
  • They must match the performance results your clients expect -- as explained below.

Each client has their own set of expectations, and you need to establish procedures that will enable you to discover and respond to those individual expectations.

There is also a set of core performance results that all affluent clients seek. Your ability to respond to those expectations requires both the desire and effort to continuously improve. Rather than procedures to control performance, you need procedures that will enable you to continuously adjust your performance to improve your ability to deliver what your clients want in the following areas.

  1. QUALITY - your clients want ...
  • Everything done right the first time.
  • The information you provide to be clear and easy to understand.
  • Knowledgeable and helpful assistance from you and everyone on your team.
  • CONVENIENCE - your clients want ...
    • Everything delivered when and where they want it.

    You and all your team members to keep every promise.

    1. PERSONALIZATION - your clients want ...
    • Everything customized to their unique needs and wants.
    • You and all your team members to continually find new ways to serve their particular needs.
  • VALUE - your clients want ...
    • To be convinced that the value you provide justifies the trust they place in you and the fees they pay.
    • To be convinced that your value-added services are continually reducing their "costs" in terms of time, effort, and dollars.
    Imagine it is three months from now and you are a participant in a workshop I am leading on practice management. I am asking for examples of actions participants have taken to improve team performance. As I direct my attention toward you, how will you respond? Will you describe your efforts to get better control or to continuously improve in order to achieve the right performance results? Can you explain how your efforts to be more efficient are effectively taking you where you want to go? Finally, how will you respond when I ask you, "So, is your business growing?

    Within only three months of working with Doug to streamline his team's processes and get him engaged in high-impact rainmaking activities, he personally had already brought in $16 million of new assets. This is what can happen when process is streamlined and linked to results.

    An important aspect of achieving FedEx level efficiency that is performance focused is to develop streamlined written procedures. To help with that challenge, we are offering our Guidelines For Developing Performance Standards. To download, go to: www.oechsli.com/PM54


    If you have any topic or special requests, please contact Rich Santos, publisher of Registered Rep. and Trust & Estates magazines, at [email protected].
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