Our fiscal year has just ended and we’ve had our best ever year. The highest turnover, best profit, most asset wins and we’ve created more value for our clients than ever before. It feels solid, it feels like we are in a good place, and all of this comes down to basically one thing: the Equilibrium team.
In order to deliver for our clients we need to have the right people on the bus, in the right seats, all facing in the same direction, heading for the same destination. This year more than any other it feels like we’ve got it right. That’s not to say there still won’t be a bit of shuffling, additions and vacancies but we are a group of people happy in our jobs, doing our best for our clients and creating something bigger and better than our individual selves.
So what makes a great team, and how do you get one?
From my many years building teams, and observing the do’s and don’ts of other people, here are my Top 10 Tips :
1. The most obvious thing is that you have to want a great team. You need to focus on it like you would any other area of your business. People aren’t a cost and an expense to be reduced. People are your biggest asset. You need a clear plan of action in order to get the most out of everyone.
The environment and culture at Equilibrium is constantly on my mind. I’m always asking myself is this a good place to work? Are we showing how much we value people? I constantly think of what things we can put in place to ensure that we are always putting our people at the heart of what we do.
2. Share the vision. Where are you going and why? What’s the purpose? Tell people all the time why the business does what is does, and why doing it makes a difference.
Our purpose at Equilibrium is to give people future financial confidence. When clients feel confident about their financial position they can make informed decisions like helping their families or planning adequately for retirement. It is important that the team understand this vision and I can confidently say that each and every person at Equilibrium does.
3. Have goals, tell the team about them, track them, and then share the rewards.
Each week we update the team on how much money we have banked so they know if we are on track for our revenue target. Monthly the team are updated on new asset wins and losses. Third party feedback on how we doing is also shared with the team as and when it comes to ensure they are fully informed.
4. Look at your hiring package. How competitive is it? And it’s not just about the salary and pension it’s about the small intangibles as well.
As well as all the normal benefits at Equilibrium we give 33 days holiday, breakfasts, flexible time for appointments, exams…
5. Don’t micro manage, do ask people what they think. People know their job better than anyone else, if you ask them how to make it better and more efficient then they’ll have a bunch of ideas.
We have a number of cross functional teams of people who have volunteered to review and enhance particular areas of the business. From client reporting, to system efficiencies, to additional things we can do as value-added for our clients.
6. Everyone makes mistakes, the key is to learn from them. Look at them as an opportunity to update systems, protocols and communication assumptions.
I often use the ‘knowing what we know now, what would we do differently in the future’ question - and occasionally the ‘if it happens once it’s a mistake, if it happens again you’re in trouble’.
7. Check in regularly with people, and do formal yearly reviews. It’s important to know how people are doing.
When someone new starts at Equilibrium we check in regularly to make sure they are on track, learning what they need to and understanding what they don’t yet know whilst still feeling positive about being the new kid on the block. Confidence is king and that’s even more important when everything is new and you don’t feel like you have a handle on what you are doing. We also have a formal conversation with each team member at least once a year to review what’s working, what they’re proud of, what they need to work on, and what their salary goals are. It is always best to manage expectations when it comes to money, it saves surprises and disappointment down the road.
8. Give people the responsibility and authority, and trust that they can ‘think’.
If a company is to grow you need forward-thinking problem solvers at all levels, in all departments. At Equilibrium you don’t get brownie points for being a control freak. We are always looking to hand over responsibility to staff with the autonomy to make decisions and changes.
9. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Always tell your team what you are doing and why.
If people are going to make decisions on your behalf then they need to understand how you work. I’m a firm believer that you can’t tell people things too many times. Tell them why you made a decision, how you made a decision, why you look at things a certain way, what you will tolerate, what you will celebrate, what you expect. The Equilibrium culture needs to be engrained in everyone and that happens by talking and sharing.
10. Give a damn! You need to care about your team as much as you care about your clients. In turn your team will care about your clients as much as you do.
Cut people some slack, but hold them to account. Try and understand why, but don’t let it be an excuse. Expect great things from people, believe they can deliver and they will.
People spend a lot of time at work and whilst they are there to do a job they want to feel that they are part of something bigger and that they matter. If you empower, encourage and make sure they understand the ‘purpose’ you have a certain recipe for success.