Being clear about what matters most actually matters most
Best Practice Advice & Strategic Issues

Being clear about what matters most actually matters most

November 14, 2023

by Tony Vidler  CFP logo   CLU logo  ChFC logo

Sometimes contracts just don’t provide clarity for the people who work for you. And being clear about what matters for them matters more than just about anything else when it comes to getting the best from your people.

When you are running a professional services business there is one thing you absolutely need with your staff, and that is clarity.  Precise exactness.  Everyone knows precisely what they are supposed to be doing with their time and energy, and knows exactly what matters.  Modern employment contracts just don’t achieve this.

In recent times there has been far greater emphasis upon creating contracts which are explicitly designed to meet legal requirements and manage the risk of the employment relationship turning sour.  I have no issue with strong contracts that protect both parties and are detailed in terms of each parties rights and obligations, and there is a lot of merit in them when the two parties are entering an unequal relationship as is usually the case between employer and employee.   The problem is that the contracts have become focused upon the rights and responsibilities governing the employer-employee relationship and usually don’t cover the core function of the role that is being fulfilled by the employee terribly well.  What little direction is covered in an employment contract about functions and duties are usually waffle designed to fit with an equally waffly performance appraisal process.

Waffle doesn’t provide transparency, simplicity or exactness.  It doesn’t provide clarity.  It doesn’t focus on what matters most.

There is a way to ensure you can provide that focus without losing the employment contracts or undermining them.  They are still there because they are a necessity.  But once they are done and signed and filed away, forget about them unless a problem occurs – then drag them back out.

For day to day and month to month operational management of your staff provide a Role Description.  It is simply 3-5 bullet points that say “this is actually what the job is about.  This is how you will be assessed”  This is what matters most”.

For Example, a role description for an adviser in the firm might be:

  • To secure (or exceed) $500 in revenue per allocated client on average in a calendar year, and to maintain (or exceed) 90% persistency level on the book.
  • Complete all relevant service and sales documentation as required to our compliance and audit standards.
  • Ensure client servicing obligations are met.
  • Make available client files for external audit review if or as required.
  • Be professional, but have fun.

There are some specific expectations in terms of performance…but not much.  What matters most in that role?

There are some service and compliance standards – or professional behaviour expectations.  Just the big ones…

The desired attitude and approach to everyday life in the practice is clear.

This is pretty much everything that the adviser needs to know in terms of how to function and perform on a daily basis.  It provides clarity as it is simple and transparent, and concise.

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