Many advisors believe that with enough time and attention, a brilliant—if not perfect—decision will be uncovered. But this is one of the biggest misconceptions about decision making. There is rarely a perfect decision.
Some of the tips below for better decision making may appear counterintuitive, others logical; some might at first glance seem unnecessary. Regardless, test them out at your team’s next serious “fork in the road” issue, and you’ll likely find these tips helpful.
- Make good decisions, and act on them quickly. This is always more constructive than spending an inordinate amount of time valiantly trying to make a brilliant decision.
- Determine who will be responsible for completing the specific project (task). Say your team has just decided to incorporate social media into the marketing plan. You assign responsibility to the young junior financial advisor on the team. Naturally, this responsibility will be comprised of a series of specific tasks (i.e., LinkedIn team branding, individual branding, team and individual connections, and postings).
- Create an accountability loop. Using the above example of the junior team member handling social media, it’s obvious that they are accountable for this area of responsibility. However, who will be checking on their progress and holding them accountable? For example, you could assign the oversight accountability to the team’s practice manager. Now, on a daily basis the accountability loop is activated between junior advisor and practice manager regarding this specific project/task.
- Employ an “update-feedback” loop with team members. No serious project should be approached in a vacuum. The individual responsible (junior advisor) should be consulting with team members to get their input and feedback. It’s important that everyone is on board with the decision that has been made and that they’re kept abreast of the status. Status updates should be communicated at team meetings, in this case by the junior advisor, with an assist if necessary by the practice manager.
- Create a completion report. In our example, the senior advisor, who has delegated this project to the junior advisor with the oversight of the practice manager, must receive a full report upon the completion of the project. This should include any necessary follow-up or ongoing maintenance. In this case, social media marketing is a fluid affair, so the completion report will most likely involve the status of the team’s social media footprint, postings, connections, etc., with a heavy emphasis on ongoing execution.
This is not very complex, but too often decisions regarding projects of this nature are put off in search of the perfect solution, i.e., the ideal social media marketing campaign. This leads to procrastination, unproductive meetings, unnecessarily hiring of "outside experts" and no timely action.
A good strategy that is executed quickly, on the other hand, will undergo continuous improvement through experiential learning, the accountability loop triggered by execution and the team member “update-feedback loop.” And of course, progress rather than perfection will occur.
So the next time you’re confronted with a decision on a serious project, apply these tips, and my hunch is that your team will like the progress they make.
Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients. www.oechsli.com