Putting yourself in the mindset of your clients and prospects has been a major theme of this blog over the years. We have discussed personas, journey mapping and even creating a more effective referral process, all by putting yourself in the shoes of someone else. But what about your staff? Have you considered how they process information or work best? If you understood how they work and what their strengths were, would you have a better, more efficient office?

What are your secret superpowers?

Many of the advisors that I talk to have challenges with hiring and sometimes retaining staff. The natural inclination when hiring is to find someone who is like you, with similar strengths to your own. We tend to hire people whom we are comfortable with, instead of hiring for the job they’ll be doing. Sound familiar? I can’t tell you how many times I have heard from lead advisors frustrated because their junior advisors “can’t sell” or are “afraid to pick up the phone,” to which I ask “did you ever test to see if sales was in their personality?”

For years, one of the many corporate internal coaching tools that SEI has used has been CliftonStrengths. In short, CliftonStrengths identifies the areas where you have the greatest potential for building strength. It measures recurring patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior in four domains (Strategic Thinking, Relationship Building, Influencing and Executing). The idea is to leverage strengths instead of focusing on weaknesses, in order to build a better work environment and team. Its use is fairly widespread around SEI. In fact, it is not uncommon for an employee to even have descriptors of their strengths in the signature line of their emails. Personally, I love seeing their strengths there, as it reminds me to think about my response seen through their eyes, and to interact with them in a way that lets them process the information easier.

Knowing someone’s strengths means you can communicate with more impact. It means you can train employees differently and allow them to get more satisfaction out of their employment by empowering them to focus on what they do best.

A personal example

Let’s look at an example: My top five “strengths” are as follows: 

  1. Analytical
  2. Responsibility
  3. Developer
  4. Individualization 
  5. Relator

strengthArmed with this information, if you were hiring young John to a junior advisor role with your firm, would you just tell him to go out and sell something? Probably not. Young John would need a lot of data to make sure he understood the reasons for his recommendations and how the solution fits to solve specific problems. Not knowing this, you may be frustrated with young John’s questions or when he came back with different (researched) solutions. 

I could go on with the other strengths but I think you get the idea. Understanding how people process, learn and what motivates them means you have a greater chance of success when hiring and training them.

More tools to uncover greatness in your staff

You can choose many other methods out there. I have known advisors who use Myers Briggs, Predictive Index, Kolbe and others. Heck, even the NFL uses the famous Wonderlic tests during the rookie combine, so it should work for advisors. The important part is that you make it a part of your hiring, training and managing process. 

Other things to consider are:

  • Before you begin mandating the tests for new hires, make sure you and the current staff do them as well.
  • At your next staff meeting, start with each of you discussing your top strengths or scores. Think about how your office functions and, in light of the tests, how it could be more productive.
  • With their permission, find a way to share the “scores” or personality types with everyone in an ongoing basis. It is easy to forget someone else’s strengths.
  • With any new candidate, match the personality test to the job function. If you really like a candidate, understand what it will take to train them and how you will measure success
  • Acknowledge your “type.” Understanding your unique personality or strengths allows you to focus on what you do best and hire others whose strengths are different.

Putting yourself in the shoes of your clients and prospects can help you grow your business by understanding their needs. Understanding your staff and your candidates means you have a more efficient and productive office. Their strengths won’t be identical to yours, but put together in a team, this mix of unique types will make your team stronger, more innovative and more adaptable. 

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