There’s a classic honeymoon period where you hire someone and think they’re going to solve all your problems. But what happens when that’s over and you realize all your problems aren’t solved? Matthew and Micah sit down to tackle the problem of employing people and discuss what needs to happen in order to have an effective and harmonious team.
Listen in to hear about the importance of not only choosing the right person, but also being a leader that sets up a clear path of training and success for your employees. The guys also share tips on how to ensure you’re getting a rockstar hire on your team, as well as important, actionable ideas for you to implement with your team that will help them (and you!) improve and reach a higher level of efficiency and success.
Are you giving your new hires the leadership they need to be successful?
It’s easy to get so excited about a new hire that you assume all the hard work is over and your problems are solved. But even your highest-performing team members didn’t show up knowing how to do their best work; they had to learn how they fit into the team and what it meant to be a good worker. Give every new hire a real chance to succeed in your firm by following Matthew and Micah’s top 3 tips for building a rockstar team.
To build the confidence they need to consistently do their best work, every member of your team needs a clear understanding of what you expect from your employees and what is and isn’t a dealbreaker for employment. Far from a threat or a guilt trip, stating clear expectations helps everyone stay on the same page. More importantly, it clarifies what you as the leader will do if those expectations aren’t being met so you aren’t left relying on a subjective theory or personal opinion.
Well before the first issue arises—in fact, before the very first paycheck—have a frank conversation with your employees so they know exactly the kind of things that will end their employment here: being dishonest, being late, covering up a mistake. On the flip side, let employees know that mistakes aren’t fireable offenses, provided that employee owns up to their mistakes and learns from them. By defining these important boundaries upfront, every team member has the same chance to succeed by playing by the rules.
If a team member is following your stated expectations to the letter but still isn’t quite working out, that team member probably isn’t the real problem. As business coach John Barron often points out, it’s almost never the person; it’s almost always the system. A good leader will take these opportunities to reexamine their systems and fix anything that might be broken or out of date.
But what if a team member who otherwise excels is resistant to a portion of that system? Certainly, persistent noncompliance may eventually mean letting a team member go. But before you take that step, try having a conversation with that team member and see if there’s anything you can do to make their job a little easier.
For example, years ago, Matthew wanted his relationship manager to help qualify prospects by making sure they met certain minimums. However, she was uncomfortable with the idea of asking brand-new prospects how much money they had outright, and that discomfort set a tone for the rest of the conversation. Something needed to change.
Rather than ordering her to begin every conversation in a way she found distasteful, Matthew worked with his RM to develop a new system. Now, without fail, she simply asks new prospects to look at the firm’s website and confirm they meet the stated minimum. This adjustment helps the RM meet her goals while remaining authentic and engaged, and Matthew remains secure in the knowledge that the prospects he meets with have been vetted beforehand.
As Matthew explains, if a team member isn’t working out, it’s either due to a bad hire or bad leadership. “During that honeymoon period, you think they’re so great,” he recalls. “You don’t train them, you don’t educate them, you don’t lead them. Then, shortly after that honeymoon period ends, you think they’re incompetent and you want to fire them.” Now, you’re in a dilemma: it took you six months to fill their predecessor’s shoes, and you’ve just hit the busy season; you can’t possibly fire them now.
A lot of headtrash and animosity can potentially build up over time between a leader and a new employee, when really, the failure was squarely on the leader: either they failed to select the right person for the position, or they failed to provide the employee with training, clear expectations, and measurable results they can live up to (rather than subjective theories that change at the whim of a leader’s moods or opinions, which is not a fair way to judge anyone’s job performance). Coach Andrea with Ironstone Consulting has often stressed the importance of every key person on your team being part of a peer group or mastermind, both of which Matthew and Micah have each found valuable for their own leadership development. Whether it’s a mastermind group, additional training opportunities, or a closer look at the systems behind their tasks, it’s up to you as a leader to listen to every member of your rockstar team so that you can set them up for success in ways that benefit them the most.
We failed as a leader in one of two ways. Either we failed to select the right person for the position, or we failed to lead in that position. - Micah Shilanski Click To Tweet
We have to empower our team with ways to communicate things. If we expect a new hire to know this on their own, we’re going to create a recipe for disaster.” – Micah Shilanski Click To Tweet
You’re not going to find the person with the perfect behavioral skillset and the person with the perfect technical skillset, but we always want to solve for the behavior stuff. – Matthew Jarvis Click To Tweet
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Micah Shilanski: Welcome back TPR nation to another amazing episode of The Perfect RIA. I am your co-host and co-founder, Micah Shilanski. And with me as usual, the legendary Matthew Jarvis. Matthew, how’s it going?
Matthew Jarvis: It’s good, Micah, for those of you watching … thank you for the sound. I think it’s the ocean behind us.
We are recording — well, not live. It’s live when we’re recording it, in Homer, Alaska on the Homer Spit, which is a kind of a fun place. We’re out here as part of our owners’ trip.
And today, Micah, we want to talk more about staffing and employees, and team members. That’s of course, our theme for the month. And of course, for our Backstage Pass and Invictus members, of course, Colleen and Victoria are doing a special webinar this month to highlight how a high-performance team works from their side of the table-
Micah Shilanski: That’s right.
Matthew Jarvis: Which will be a lot of fun.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah, and that’s really important, because we got to see both dynamics of this. And we talk about the importance of masterminds for financial planning firms. The importance of us getting with our peer groups, and working through things.
Well guess what? It’s the same with team members, and having team members’ ability to hear from other team members of what’s going on, it’s fantastic.
In the owners trip, one of the things that is really great here, is the wives get to talk to each other, and one of the wives says to the other one, “Oh, your husband does that too, this is normal?”
So, it helps and company loves misery, I guess or misery loves company. But you need these other training opportunities for teams to learn from other people. So, that webinar, I think is going to be fantastic. They’ve done it last year. Got really good response on it. So, again, I’m really excited about it.
Matthew Jarvis: Big shout out to Coach Andrea with Ironstone Consulting. We’ve always been a big fan of Masterminds. Micah and I have been for advisors. She really stress to us the importance that every person on your team, every key person on your team, they also need a peer group, a mastermind.
And so, that’s something we’re developing more for our respective teams and also, for everyone who’s a Backstage Pass and Invictus member.
Micah Shilanski: Jarvis, I kind of think some of the ways that this goes down the path is you get excited about a position, you hire somebody, you get in a honeymoon period, where, “Oh my gosh, this is great, they’re going to solve all my problems, et cetera.”
And during that honeymoon period, you think they’re so great. You don’t train them, you don’t educate them, you don’t lead them. Then shortly after that honeymoon period ends, you think they’re incompetent, you want to fire them. And now, you’re in this dilemma, it says, “Well, it took me six months to get this position, now I can’t fire this person, I can’t get rid of this person. et cetera.”
And that’s a lot of head trash that kind of builds up over time, and animosity potentially between that employee, when really, we failed as a leader in one of two ways. We failed to select the right person for the position, or which we’re going to talk about that, and how to judge candidates for a position.
And the second thing that we potentially failed in, we failed to lead in that position to set up with training, with expectations, with KPIs, with measurable results that the employees can live up to, and not subjective theories, or changes from my opinion, as the wind blows when I come up with new ideas and new whims, and they don’t have it done by the time I think about it — that’s not a fair way to judge them in performance of their job.
So, how do we set this up for success, Jarvis? Let’s talk about it from the on boarding person. You’ve already selected a candidate. You’re bringing a candidate on, what do you got to do to make sure that’s a rockstar hire?
Matthew Jarvis: I want to take just one-half step back, and to your two points, it could be a bad team member that you selected, or its bad leadership. We always need to air first that it’s bad leadership, our Jocko kind of Extreme Ownership good, if there’s something going on. And Micah, this goes back to having a peer group, Micah.
Sometimes you and I will sort of vent back and we’re like, “Oh, I can’t believe that the team did this.” And to which the response is always, “Oh, that’s GOOD, what are you going to do to fix your mistake here?” So, it’s just an important thing to remember.
Back to the on boarding, this is where we set clearer expectations. We talked about this. Go back and listen to the episode where we talked about working with family, and we stressed having these criteria.
This is where you need to stress things that are deal breakers. It’s not just a threat, so to speak, it’s also kind of a, “Hey, just so you know, these are the kind of things that will end your employment here; if you are dishonest, that will your employment. If you are late, that will end your employment. If you cover up a mistake that will your employment.”
“Here are things that will not injure employment; if you own a mistake, if you arrive on time. If you have integrity — we all make mistakes, here’s how we fix mistakes. And the sooner you come to me, the easier it is.”
Micah Shilanski: And Jarvis, the reason I like outlining that, and what I like to add to that is why? It’s not enough to spell the rules; “Well, if you’re late, therefore, you’re fired.”
No, no, no, no; what’s the why behind that? It is disrespectful. It shows a mismanagement of your time, it shows a disrespect for me, to your other team members, and to clients, to be late, and that’s not how we run our office. It’s an integrity thing for me.
And when you’re late habitually, not a car accident, let’s not be dramatic here. But when you’re late, it shows you lack integrity, and you don’t get to work in our firm without integrity.
So, you got to draw these lines and conclusions. And the more time I’ve spent with a team outlining that, the more success I get because now, they can draw not being late to, “Oh, this potentially is an integrity issue over here. Maybe I shouldn’t do that either.” Versus if I just say don’t be late, but then they leave early.
Well, “Crap, I forgot to say, don’t leave early.” Or, “Get your job done or these other things”. I don’t want to have an implication there. So, I want to spell out as much as I can, and I want to tie it to the why because I want them to think about things.
Matthew Jarvis: A couple of quick notes, I know we’re talking about onboard. But in the hiring, someone showing up not early for your-
Micah Shilanski: Oh yeah, interview.
Matthew Jarvis: Interview, that’s an immediate, cancel that person. A great interview question to ask, is … for example, if you ask somebody, “Hey, do you have a chronic illness?” That’s going to get you a lawsuit. You’re not allowed to ask that.
If you ask, “However, is there anything that would keep you from being on work on time every single day?” And they say whatever they say, then you know, hey, you have no legal obligation to hire someone who can’t show up on time.
If you say, “I’m not going to hire this person because they have some personal issue,” that’s a legal issue. But saying, “Hey is there anything that would keep you from being on time every single day?” And if they say, “Well, sometimes I sleep in, or this, the other issue.”
“Oh, okay. Good to know. Thank you.”
Micah Shilanski: “My mom doesn’t wake me up on time.” Those things like that. I also like in the interview questions to ask them about evening obligations. About saying, “Sometimes we’ll do evening client events, we’ll do evening seminars. We’ll maybe do a team retreat on a weekend. Is there anything that would prohibit you from participating and joining in those events?”
Matthew Jarvis: That’s a great one too. Micah, we talked about integrity, we talked about being on time. A good advisor friend of ours, he would always say, “As soon as any team member thinks they’re smarter than I am, it’s time for them to go?”
Micah Shilanski: Ooh, can you give me an example of that?
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. And so, here’s, an example, and his logic wasn’t because he was this big egotistical jerk off. He was just saying like, “Hey listen, I’m the one taking all the risk. I’m the one writing all the cheques, I’m the one who’s running this thing. It’s my business.”
So, example would be if he says, “Hey, I think we’re going to do it this way.” And the team gives pushback on it, which pushback is great, we always welcome pushback. But then if he says, “Hey, it’s going to be this way.” And they kind of give him the eye roll or any kind of disrespect, like you don’t know what you’re talking about, okay. Next.
Micah Shilanski: Next, absolutely right. Those are absolute deal breakers. And I think this is an important thing in your onboarding process, and to stress throughout the creativity of your team.
Because we always want our team to give us pushback, especially the more senior our team gets, we want them to give us pushback because they understand a little bit more how these operations are in place. But we got to create a positive way for them to give me pushback.
If they walk in and tell me, “No, we’re not doing this.” Woo, well, that’s going to set me off-
Matthew Jarvis: That’s a trigger word for Micah, he needs a safe space.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. So, that conversation’s not going to go well. Now, okay, that’s my limitation. I will own that, but I need my team to help in this way.
So, it says, “Yes, Micah, that’s a possibility, have we thought about this or is this an issue? Or I’m concerned about A, B and C.” There’s a good time for those things to be brought up.
But we got to empower our team with how to communicate those things. If we just assume a new hire is going to figure this out on their own, you’re really creating a recipe for disaster.
Matthew Jarvis: Something that Coach John Barron always talked about is that it’s almost never the person; it’s almost always the system.
And so, if you have a team member that’s not delivering the results that you want, our default reaction, and this by the way, is the same for your spouse or your children or anything — our default reaction is I make mistakes, but you’re an idiot. And that’s just how our brains are programed.
And so, coach, John would always say, “Listen, if your team member’s not creating the result that you want, something in the system needs to change.” Unless you suspect that they’re maliciously doing, in which case, they need to go, and we’re going to talk about that in a minute; then you need to adjust the system.
Easy examples of this just in my own life, is I have a tendency to forget things at my house like my laptop or other things. I’ll just leave them there and I’ll leave. But I never ever forget my keys, probably because I can’t leave without my keys. I never forget my wallet or my cell phone.
So, what I do is if there’s something I need to make sure I take to work like my laptop, I’ll either set it by the front door so I can’t walk past it. Or I’ll put my keys in my laptop bag. Now, that feels like kind of a silly trivial thing, but let me tie this around.
Colleen, she’s been with me for 10 years, we have this great working relationship. She wouldn’t ask prospects that called in how much money they had, what their net worth was to see if they were a fit. And I would chat with her and we would script it and da, da, da, da, da.
And I started to get upset and I’m thinking, why won’t you just ask this question? And I finally again took a step back and said, “Great, Colleen, tell me about this. Like, where’s this going aside?” Like really with curiosity.
And she said, “Jarvis, I got to let you know, I’m not comfortable asking people how much money they have. And so, when I get on the call, I get nervous and I forget, or it leaves my mind or I just don’t do it.” Okay. So, I have options here. I can say well, that’s a deal breaker-
Micah Shilanski: Yeah, that is an option.
Matthew Jarvis: That’s an option, and in some cases that is the option. So, I thought, what’s another option? Another option, “What if we put the minimum on our website? Colleen, would you be comfortable asking them to go to the website and make sure they fit our minimum?” She said, “Absolutely, I would.” And she does that without fail.
I hear it like, “Hey, have you been to our website to see what our minimums are? No, you haven’t? Okay, well please I’ll wait here. Please take a look.”
“They oh, okay.”
“Do you fit our minimums?”
“Yes, I do or no, I don’t.” She’s great by that-
Micah Shilanski: I love it.
Matthew Jarvis: Now, that was a system that I was able to adjust to still get the desired outcome I want. Other systems can’t adjust, but I just want to give you an example of look at the system before you blame the person.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. And this is an important thing too, is we have to use our client skills with our team members. So, when I’m meeting with a client and I’m talking about something, I can tell when they have hesitation because I’m attuned.
I’m paying attention to their body language, I’m paying attention to their posture, their breathing, how they’re moving their hand. I had a baseline, now they went off the baseline. What is this read telling me?
Same thing with our team members; we need to spend the time, and I’m talking to myself here, nobody else, just me, I need to do better job of this — to really read that baseline, and see when we’re explaining a process when the team member gets uncomfortable and saying with your example, “Can we just tweak this process a little bit so they feel comfortable?” Because now when they feel comfortable, they’re rockstars about it.
Matthew Jarvis: Totally, totally. Let’s pivot just a little bit, Micah, because this example is just top of my mind. I can’t like resist. It’s like having a secret I can’t resist telling it. An advisor that we very much respect has a phenomenal practice.
He came to one of our live events, by the way, our next one is October 8th in Denver, as part of XYPN Live. He came to one of our live events and we were doing some coaching with him.
And it comes out that when he goes in and asks his employees to do things, as he would walk out of the room, he could hear them say under their breath, but clearly loud enough for him to hear, “The F, I have time for that.” But they would say the-
Micah Shilanski: They’d fill it in.
Matthew Jarvis: They’d fill it in. This is not a family episode, but it’s not going to be that extreme. And we said, “Dave, you have to fire this employee.” And he says, “Guys, you don’t understand, there’s these different things da, da.” Yeah, I don’t understand those all other things. This person has to be fired tomorrow.
Now, here’s extreme accountability, I might be getting this mixed up with another firing extreme accountability. I believe his was, if he didn’t take care of it by the end of that week, one of our team members would call and take care of it for him on Monday.
Micah Shilanski: That is correct. That’s what I think so too. And then this is one of the ones that we have to … and this is the reason start with new hires and processes first before we get into this firing conversation. This is where we have to set the baseline with our new hires, with our onboarding, with our team training that we’re doing of what we expect.
Now, if we fail to do that … now clearly, the F I have time for that, I don’t know in what world you would’ve to communicate. But that’s an unacceptable response. Apparently, there’s a world out there.
Matthew Jarvis: There’s no stealing. There’s no stealing here either.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. So, there’s some that you got to be here, but let’s set them up for success. If you went to the pain of hiring for them, and going through all of that, set up the time to do the training with them that’s going to be needed, and then record the training.
In our office, we had our leads when they onboarded the next employee, they recorded all the training, all that they had to do — all of the training, web-based even though they were in person, because I wanted to record it.
And now, that’s the onboarding process, every new team member goes through. And we have two and a half weeks of training system that they’re going to go through to learn the different systems, et cetera. And we got that one piece at a time.
So, anytime you’re doing training with a team member, you should stop, you should open up Google, you should open up Zoom, I don’t care what it is. Hit the record button, record and then save that in a training folder.
And then when that question comes back up, or you have a new hire, now you can just give them that Zoom video, you can give them that drive. Is that going to answer all their questions? No, but it’s going to answer a whole lot of those questions. So, having a good training regimen is important.
The other part is in your onboarding process, you need to go back and set up the KPIs, that how you are going to judge them for success. This is really, really important. If they do these things, they’re golden.
Easy example of this, in our office we have processes we do and any of our processes, we explicitly tell new people, says, “Hey, you’re going to jump in here, and you’re going to see something in our process, and you’re like, ‘This doesn’t make any sense. This is redundant. This is stupid. I’m going to skip this step because I know what’s going on, and I’m going to go do something else.’ And I appreciate the fact that you’re trying to make this more efficient, but here’s what I know, is you don’t see the entire process.”
“So, you can make no suggestions or changes until 90 days. Now, take all of your suggestions that you have, I want you to write them down, write fantastic. I want you to write them all down. Go through it, what do you want to do, et cetera. Then at the end of 90 days, we’re going to have a debrief, and I would love to hear about your suggestions, and how to make things more efficient.”
But I don’t want to take a two-hour employee that’s looking at a Roth conversion process and saying, “I don’t understand why I got to put in the marginal tax rate. This is silly. It’s on their tax return.” I don’t want to take those conversations. We are going to wait until after 90 days to have them.
The other thing, this I tell our new employees or all of our employees, you get out of jail free card if a mistake happens is to follow the process. If you follow the process — and process means it’s documented-
Matthew Jarvis: I always say documented. Let’s make sure that’s clear in there.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. If it’s documented in the way it’s supposed to be documented, and you follow that process, regardless of the outcome, well, that’s not your fault. We might have a training opportunity after this, but you’re not going to be fired for this.
Jamie: Hey podcast listeners, this is Jamie Shilanski, and I’m here to tell you that your goals aren’t good enough. Because if you have a goal, I don’t care, written on a notepad, taped to your monitor, stuck up on the wall, somewhere in your office – it’s not going to get you to achieve any type of results that you’re looking for. Goals without plans are plans to fail.
You know that The Perfect RIA is all about action. And that’s why you have a unique opportunity to purchase your ticket, for the pre-conference event of the year in Denver, Colorado.
Join Matthew Jarvis and Micah Shilanski on October 8th, 2022, for the XYPN Pre-Con; a one-day action packed interactive workshop, where you get to work hand-in-hand with other advisors just like you who want to achieve success, and are ready to do what works.
Listen to our panel of success, get your questions answered about what works, and what pitfalls you need to avoid in your career, and then we want you up and out of your seat.
We’ll be taking out the head trash, doubling your efficiency, looking for ways of effectiveness, and partnering you up with accountability partners. It’s time to stop talking about success and start planning for it.
Go to theperfectria.com to purchase your ticket to the XYPN event in Denver, Colorado on October 8th, 2022.
Matthew Jarvis: Well, it ties to so many things. One of the things that come to mind, Micah, during this is, and I thought it when you mentioned like you need to talk to your employees the way that you talk to your clients in most situations.
And one of those is to not come in, in anger, or in extreme emotional state. This is true for all relationships, clients, employees, your children, your spouse, whomever this is
So, a couple years ago, we had a pretty significant trade error that the client discovered. It was this big mess we’ve talked about on the podcast. And I was furious. I was blowing up Micah’s text, which by the way is again, the importance having a peer group. I needed someone, I had to get this steam off my chest.
Micah obviously wasn’t involved with it. So, I blew up Micah’s thing, calmed way down, made sure I was back to a state like, okay, now, I’ve worked out all those emotions, I’ve let them all out. I’ve yelled, I’ve thrown rocks at trees, whatever this is.
Now, I can go back to the team and say, “Great, a big mistake was made. A big mistake was made. Our very first part is fixing this mistake and then we’re going to look at how to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
But right away, and the whole team knew as soon as I knew that the mistake had happened, and they knew it was a big mistake. But I also stressed, I said, “Hey, listen, this mistake happened, no one covered it up. Everyone brought it to attention. Everyone’s hustling to get it fixed. No one is losing their job over this.”
No one, I’m just telling them, no one’s losing their job over this. This was not a malicious mistake. This was a breakdown in our process. We’re going to fix the … I’m calling the client right now because I take responsibility and then we’re going to fix this mistake. And then we’re going to figure out how to fix the process.”
But my initial was I’m going to go into the office, I’m going to fire everybody. I’m going to fire everybody. In fact, I’m going to charge them back for the cost of me fixing this mistake.
Micah Shilanski: That’s right. I’m going to withhold their paychecks to fix this, yeah.
Matthew Jarvis: It’s illegal by the way, but I’m still going to do it.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. But you got to get those venting off of your chest. And Jarvis, I think this is so important, to go in there as a good leader and to create an environment where team members can own their mistakes.
And that’s one of the things that we talk our team members about the same as you, is saying, “Look, if you tell me you made a mistake, that doesn’t mean I’m not going to be upset.”
I was like, “Look, I’m still human, and I’m going to be upset that mistakes took place, because depending on how big the mistake was and the clients it affected, I’m going to be upset, but I need a place to calm down. You’re not going to lose your job. We’re going to own this and we’re going to fix this.”
But you know, when someone’s bleeding, first thing you do is you stop the bleeding. The first thing we do with a mistake is stop the frigging mistake. Fix it right away, then we’re going to figure out why it happened, and do training afterwards.
I don’t want to get into this huge conversation about why this mistake happened. No, has it been fixed for the client? Yay or nay? That needs to happen first.
Matthew Jarvis: Now, I also want to stress in this example that this wasn’t just like peaches and roses. Like, “Hey guys, it’s not a big deal, let’s hold hands and kumbaya.”
No, this came back up. In fact it still comes up to this day when we’re looking at processes, “Hey, remember when this trade error happened, this is why this step exists. This is why we go through memos twice. This is …” whatever that is.
I thought of it earlier, Micah, when you were mentioning about don’t skip steps in the process. Yes, I hate redundancy. Absolutely hate it, but I also cannot tolerate mistakes. That cannot happen.
So, please don’t think that we’re sweeping mistakes under the rug. They have to be addressed, they have to be fixed. But if I come in with anger, I’m not going to do really well there.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah, yeah. You got to fix it. And then I also talk about it too. Depending on the severity of mistakes is look, this is how firms go out of business just to be a hundred percent clear. This is how people lose their job. Big firms go out of business. This is why it’s so important to go through these things.
Now, let’s reverse this on the firing side. So, one of the things that when we’ve terminated some employees in the past, and there’s always this adage about slow to hire and quick to fire, and I don’t know, people say it, nobody follows it.
Really, you need to have a clear metrics before you hire that person, before it becomes a person. At first, it’s just a job, but before it’s a person, you got to set up the KPIs on when you are going to terminate that employee.
And yes, firing sucks. It’s not fun, I get it. But I’m also, you know what, when I want to give money to charity, I write a cheque and I give money to charity. My business is not a charity.
I have no obligation to keep their job. I am paying them to do a job. And if they fail to do that job, that is theft. I gave them money for something, they chose not to do it, that’s stealing in my book.
So, I want to be really clear at the metrics in which I’m going to gauge this team member for success, and okay, once it crosses X line, they’re gone.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. I want to add a distinction in here too. Well, I take one step back. We run into advisors all the time, who tell us, “You know what, Jarvis, Micah, I would have a perfect practice to The perfect RIA, dare I say, if only I could hire Victoria, if only I could hire Colleen, if only I could hire Charnel, if only I could hire Alex,” naming people off from our firm.
And so, we get this idea of like, if I could hire this mystical employee with tons of industry experience, all these things, and if you have a source for finding those people-
Micah Shilanski: Please share it.
Matthew Jarvis: Please share it. And the reason I mentioned that is it’s very unlikely will you find the person with the perfect behavioral skill set and the perfect technical skill set, but we always want to solve for the behavioral stuff.
So, back to your thing, Micah with firing employees, I will fire on behavioral immediately. Just behavioral stuff, I will zero tolerance for, that is not something I’ll put up with. Technical skills, I have a lot of patience for that.
And I want to take like real ownership, not like that’s extreme ownership. What can I do to better train this person? We’ve respectively sent our teams to Ritz-Carlton training. We hire coaches for them. We even have a team member who hired her own coach.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah, which was really impressive.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah, which we then reimbursed. So, I will provide technical skills all day long, all day long. Every single year, we have personal development budgets. Behavioral skills, you come to work with attitude, if you’re dishonest, if you’re not doing your work, if you lie to me, those are all gone.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah, non-negotiable.
Matthew Jarvis: If you’re disrespectful to me, if you’re disrespectful to clients, all gone.
Micah Shilanski: Yep, yep. You’re done. So, these are things you … again, have these in writing, put these in your SOP, your standard operating procedures, put them in your employee manuals, whatever documentation you’re going to have, and make this known and have your team members sign off on it.
This is the code of conduct. You have these things, and then you’re terminable. Also send them to your attorney, let’s make sure those are valid, all the important things there.
So, let’s talk about that you fired an employee, now what? Do you let them keep working for another two weeks? You bring him into the conference room, you have that uncomfortable conversation. And you say, “I don’t want to give you a severance check, so I’m just going to pay you for the next two weeks while you find a job.” Do you keep them around? Do you kick them out?
Matthew Jarvis: And let’s add one more layer of complexity. Let’s say it’s somebody who’s been with you a long time. We end up with advisors that are transforming their practice. They’re implementing surge, they’re implementing value-adds. They’re raising their fees to better match their new value. And they have legacy employees that have been with them a long time that are just no longer a good fit.
So, in that situation or if it’s someone new, whatever the case maybe, Micah, my preference is, today’s your last day. And personally, I like to do, “Here’s obviously whatever pay we owe you, because it’s mid-cycle, and then here’s two more weeks pay.” And then I usually do like another thousand dollars, and it’s labeled as coaching or job placement help, or whatever the case may be.
I always err on the side of like, “Let me throw some money at this so it doesn’t become a problem for me.” It’s the best approach, but that’s kind of mine.
Micah Shilanski: And we’re assuming good conduct. This is all good context stuff that went through, and I’m a big fan of that.
Now, if they’re retiring and they’re making a different transition in life, that’s going to be a different answer, and I could say great and maybe I want to hire the replacement first, and have them train if they’re game for that.
But if I’m terminating somebody because they are not a fit in my new ideal practice or in my ideal practice, I don’t want them training my new person. And this is a mistake I see advisors make all the time. Well, I’m going to hire somebody, I want to have them trained, but then it’s going to be awkward, and then I’m going to do this.
No, because then you’re going to have the person who’s crappy at their job that you want to fire, telling them how to do the crappy things for the new job. Yes, it sucks but get rid of that person, get a new person. You train them or bring someone in here who should train them on the correct way to do things.
Matthew Jarvis: Yes. And so, ideally, you’re following a surge schedule, and this isn’t something that has to be done yesterday. Though, if it has to be done yesterday, it has to be done.
So, you say, “Great I’m going to do this outside of surge, I’m going to be prepared for this.” Here’s when the whole thing’s going to go down; another perk of doing such meetings.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah, and huge perk of doing search meetings. The other thing that we have inside of here is one of the things … no, not just if we terminated a team member, which I really hope doesn’t happen.
But let’s say one has a medical emergency, they have a family leave, they have to get out of the office for whatever reason. Our team needs to know where they’re at and things. Again, this is processes. If things are not in our CRM, they don’t exist. That’s our policy in the office.
So, if you think you did something, and I pull up the notes, and it’s not in CRM, I don’t care. It ends right there. It didn’t happen. It’s documented or it never happened.
Now, the importance of this though is not just having the team follow the system. Now, let’s say, God forbid, Victoria, something happens to her where she has a death in the family and she needs to unplug for a while because it’s life, it could happen, the other team needs to be able to know exactly where she is with her steps, her processes, et cetera, to pick that ball up to make sure the clients are taken care of.
And this is if you are a solo advisor and you have one team member advisor, this falls on your shoulders to know where these team members are, to know where the process is, to check these, to make sure they’re moving the ball along the correct way. Not that they have a Sticky note patched on their desk with chicken scratch and you don’t know what these notes mean.
Matthew Jarvis: We just did that recently. In our office, we had each team member that had really critical task, go through and just record a loom video of them just stream of consciousness. We had Linda then type it all up as a process.
But to that end, there cannot be any employee I’m beholden to, so I think, “Oh, well, Jane does this task, and if Jane quits, I don’t know who’s going to do it.” Then Jane needs to be fired.
I need to be able to step in and take care of any employee’s task. Now, this doesn’t mean I need to be able to do it as quickly as they can, doesn’t need mean I need to know everything.
But let’s take for example, my dad who does all our trading, we had him document that. If dad decided abruptly to retire or heaven forbid, had a death in the family and just one day couldn’t come into work, I’m not an expert at that system, but I know how to get the experts on the line.
So, I would call (we use Orion technology for that) them and I’d say, “Hey, send somebody out to my office tomorrow, and teach me how to do this.” So, again, I don’t want to be beholden.
You mentioned the death in the family example, that happened to our good friend, Benjamin Brandt. He was getting ready to do his fee increase, the week before there was a very significant death in a family of a team member. And then he had to figure out how to do fee paperwork himself. Perfect, Ben.
By the way, the reason he’s stuck with it, is he had extreme accountability from one of our live events. But you need to make sure that you know how to not proficiently, but know how to step in and say, “Great, I can fire any person on my team, and life will go on.”
Micah Shilanski: Yeah, and that’s a big redundancy thing more than anything else. Now, before you say, “Well, Matt, Micah, it’s super easy for you guys to be able to do this because you have multiple team members, you have all this stuff set up, blah, blah, blah,” well, it wasn’t always that way.
And this’ll be maybe a cocktail story for another time, but there was a time where we had a quasi-mutiny when we fired the entire team. By entire team, I mean, everybody. Everybody that didn’t have the last name Shilanski was gone. And then it all fell on our shoulders to do everything in the office.
So, it was a pretty serious moment, and really pivotal moments in our firm. But it was the aspect of saying, “Nope, this has now become a toxic environment, this is what we have to fix and they’re gone today.”
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah, yeah, completely. I do want to pull that out. Depending on when this airs, we’ve been kind of going some flame wars back and forth on LinkedIn on some challenges on can we do a bet or like a UFC challenge on financial planning on the value that you deliver.
And it’s interesting, all of these sort of like these underhanded insults that come like, “Oh, you guys are just pounding your chest about how good your practices are.” And our practices are really good by the way, and the people throwing those barbs usually have these terrible practices.
But don’t let yourself get caught up in that. Even if you’re listening and you think, “Ah, these guys, goodness, their practices, I get it, they’re great.” Cool. What is it that you can take away?
And so, whenever I’m meeting with another advisor, no matter what I think about their practice or their personality, I’m always looking saying, “Is there something that I can take away? Is there something that I can learn?” Even if I think their political beliefs are crap or whatever the case may be.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. And that’s one of the things I really enjoy about our Invictus calls with members is, coaching these other advisors, working with them and going through things, there’s stuff that I pick up chatting with them, says, “Oh my gosh, that’s a solid idea. That’s a great thing you should add inside of there. I’m going to steal that for my practice.”
And I tell them that, and then they’re very flattered by that because this is — and the whole reason we call it The perfect RIA, is this is a journey to perfection. We haven’t figured it out yet. We figured out a lot of stuff but we haven’t figured it all out (thank God) because we enjoy that struggle, that fight to that next level.
This podcast is all about action item. So, our listeners know what time of the pod that this is going to be. It’s homework time. So, Jarvis, what is the first action item our listeners should take this week?
Matthew Jarvis: Interestingly enough, I would say action item number one is have a plan for hiring a new employee. Have a plan in place. Like really go through it. By the way, this is the same for anybody with a broker dealer, have a plan for leaving your broker dealer. You may or may not do it, but you need to have a plan.
For Backstage Pass and Invictus members, log in, look at the hiring guides we have. Look at the job posting, the interview questions. This is a process to go through. That way, you don’t ever feel beholden. You know that, hey, if there’s somebody who has to go, I know what my next step is.
Micah Shilanski: I’m going to say to the second action item is you should have KPIs on all of your team members, or at least your department’s ops, RM trading, however you’re going to set that up.
You should have KPIs of metrics in there and says, “Great …” And if you don’t want to say this from a firing side, well then say from the opposite side; “How do I know you’re performing like a rock star? How do I know where I need to add training? How do I know where I need to give you more support to make your job better?”
And this needs to be objective as much as it can. Some of it’s subjective, I get that, but a lot of it is objective as much as possible.
But then we also got to have that other line there, whether you share it with your team or not, that says, “Hey, you cross this line and you’re gone. These are things we’re just not going to tolerate.”
Matthew Jarvis: A great way to present that to your team members is you would say, “Jane, Dave (whomever this team member is), you are a really good employee. By the way, from my heart of heart, I mean that. You are a really good employee. And what I’ve discovered though is when you have too much on your plate, you just get your head down and you grind through it, but that’s not healthy for you. It’s not healthy for your stress. That’s not healthy for the firm. I need a way to know … because I know you’re such a hard worker, you’re not going to raise your hand and say, ‘Hey, I need help.’”
Micah Shilanski: I love that.
Matthew Jarvis: “So, I need to be able to watch that way. If you’re getting overwhelmed …” and I put on me; “If I’m giving you too many things, I need a way to know that so that I can back off just a little bit.”
Micah Shilanski: And it’s not by telling me, “No, I’m not going to do this or saying F off or these other things.” So, you got to give them a creative way, a structured way to raise that yellow flag and set it on.
One other thing that I’m going to throw out there when you’re creating these KPIs, a phenomenal way to do it with your team is when you’re hiring your next person-
Matthew Jarvis: That’s a great one.
Micah Shilanski: Because when you’re hiring your next person, you’re not talking about firing any of the team members. You’re saying, “Hey, we have a phenomenal culture in our team, and I truly believe this is my heart of hearts. Our team is fantastic, and we have a great culture. They like hanging out, we like doing things together. I enjoy going to the office and being with them as a team, and I do not want to bring anyone in, who’s going to jeopardize that culture.”
Again, back to having to fire everyone at once in the office. There was a whole culture thing that went down. And so, I want to make sure I’m protecting that as much as possible.
So, in our hiring process, our third step is a team interview. And at the end of that team interview, the candidate goes off, we discuss the candidate. What do we like? What we not like? It’s always a culture question.
And then we always follow up with the question that says, “Great, if this person onboarded, what would they do? Would we admit it holy crap, this was the wrong decision, we should fire them?
Matthew Jarvis: I love it. Micah, we could do an entire episode — by the way, as you were going through that, I was thinking about how prospecting cures all ills.
And surge meetings and value-adds, like these three components, when those are existing, when those are healthy in a firm, I never see staffing issues. I never see team issues. When one or all of those are weak, I see tons of team issues.
So, it’s another place to step back and say, “If I’m having team issues, how strong is my prospect pipeline, which keeps us all hungry? How strong is my value-add calendar? How strong is my surge calendar?” And those really lay a foundation.
Final action item on my list Micah, feel free to add another one, is of course, October 8th, we are going to be in Denver at XYPN Live, which is going to be a lot of fun. If you enjoy the podcast, us live will blow your mind.
It’s like watching Penn & Teller on TV and then seeing them in person. Micah never talks when we present in person.
Micah Shilanski: Never, it’s so phenomenal for everybody.
Matthew Jarvis: And I jump out of a fish bowl.
Micah Shilanski: Awesome. Well, guys, thanks so much for listening. This podcast is now growing to north of a million downloads. And we owe that as a giant thank you to you guys in our audience. And until next time, happy planning.
Matthew Jarvis: Happy planning.
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