We talk a lot about the importance of having clients and employees who are the right fit for your organization. What we mean by “fit” is that the clients and employees align with the organization’s core values. Determining the right fit is critically important for delivering upon your promise, and it impacts the hiring process (employees) and the onboarding process (clients).
Let’s say you implement processes at the hiring and onboarding stage that enhance alignment. All should go smoothly, right?
Not always. That’s because your firm is an evolving organization. It innovates and adjusts to these innovations. As it grows, it adjusts to that growth. And in the process of these changes, what was once aligned can become misaligned. In companies that are smaller in size, this type of misalignment or drift can happen more often and with more dramatic results.
So the goal consists of three important “fit” criteria: the right person, whether client or staff member, in the right place or role, at the right time.
Part of your job as a leader is to manage the evolving nature of fit. Company culture needn’t evolve away from much-valued long-time employees or clients whose alignment has gone askew. There are things you can do to mitigate fitness drift. Staff hiring practices and ongoing training can include testing for aptitudes, positive attitude and preferences (their “why”) so that employee skill sets and roles meet your personal and business objectives and not the other way around. Hiring for fit can also help reduce the personal bias of bringing people into the organization who are “like us,” which can, in turn, lead to a lack of diversity in innovation. But you need to be firm in your fitness commitment. When it becomes obvious that the evolving role is not a good fit because the team member can no longer grow along with the company, then proactively assist the staff member with a transition elsewhere within the company or to another one where their otherwise competent skills will be best utilized. Ensuring that they land on their feet moving forward is the right thing to do and sends a positive message to your existing staff.
As part of the onboarding and client reboot process, fitness assessment can include behavioral screening in addition to your annual client segmentation assessment. Behavioral screening provides important information on your clients’ relationships and motivations towards money so that you can provide better guidance and advice, and communicate with them in ways to which they’ll be most receptive. In addition, your onboarding process should include screening for what we call “knock out” factors – those aspects of a client’s behavior that are simply deal breakers. It will mean weighing the good (ie. assets, great contacts) with the not-so-good, things like constant hand-holding or disregard for your advice or spreading assets among many advisors.
Assessing fitness, both within your organization and among your clientele, is ever-evolving. Your best bet is to align from the start with those who share your core values, and implement the training and education required as your company grows.