We are in the midst of a war for talent.

    As I write this article, there is a shortage of good quality paraplanners, administrators and practice managers in the financial planning profession.

    If you’re struggling in your search for people who excel in these roles, I can assure you, you’re not the only one. Every firm I’m working with, all across the country, is having trouble finding the talent for their dream team.

    With the UK at full employment across the board, the recruitment market is now tighter than ever.

    So what to do?

    There are three related issues here:

    • How to attract and retain good quality candidates
    • How to get the most from your existing team
    • How to achieve elite-level performance from your business

    The best people always have employment options and, to be honest, you should only be interested in attracting the best people to work in your business.

    Creating an attractive work environment

    When people get to work to their personal strengths, work becomes much more enjoyable.

    Marcus Buckingham, author and leading expert on talent, is the guru in this area. He define strengths and weaknesses like this:

    A strength is something you love to do and are good at.

    A weakness is a task you don’t like doing and are bad at (obviously).

    However, a weakness is also something you might be good at, but don’t like doing. This is the one to watch out for in how you allocate tasks in your business.

    Let me explain.

    A close friend of mine used to do temp work when she was young. She’s a whizz at all things technical, and scored 100 per cent on all the temp tests for Microsoft programs like Word and Excel.

    When she was sent into a business as a temp they pretty quickly worked out how skilled she was. Next thing you know she’s doing all the Excel work. Four weeks later she’d quit and no one could work out why.

    Turns out she hates working on Excel, even though she’s really good at it.

    The same issue can arise in your own office. If you’ve got a high-performing employee in a team of average or non-performing people, there’s a risk that all the difficult jobs will end up on the desk of your star employee.

    It’s vital you check in to see if they are genuinely happy in taking on these tasks. If they’re not, you need to find another solution, or risk losing your star performer to a place where they can work to their strengths.

    I was with a firm recently, evaluating various team members. In discussing some of the people with questions marks over them, it became clear they do have some skills. They just might not be performing in their current roles.

    For example, there was one person in the client relationship manager (CRM) role; a mix of admin and being the point person for client calls. They’re excellent at phone calls with clients, but as an administrator they are only so-so.

    In this particular business there is a large team, and the business is growing. The question we considered was: “How can we get this person doing more speaking-to-clients work?”

    This is a vital role, and makes clients feel loved and appreciated when done well.

    We also considered: “How can we move the admin work to another team member who prefers this kind of work over speaking to clients?”

    It sounds so obvious, but sometimes firms get stuck within the traditional roles of paraplanner and administrator, and are unable to think outside the box.

    Think tasks, not roles

    Try this simple exercise:

    1) Explain the definitions of strengths and weaknesses, as per the Marcus Buckingham versions:

    • Strength – jobs they love and are good at
    • Weakness – jobs they don’t like and/or are not so good at

    2) Ask each team member to create two lists: strengths and weaknesses

    3) Over the next week or two, have them add every job they get involved in to one of these lists.

    You’ll need to make it clear that the aim is to get people doing more of what they love and are good at, not to make people redundant.

    After you get that information you are then in a position to start reshuffling the team, with each of them working more to their strengths if they weren't already.

    Clearly, if you are a smaller business you may not have that option. However with some creativity, sometimes it is possible to reshuffle and get more out of an existing team.

    If there are some tasks that a team member doesn’t like and is not good at, see if you can find someone else on your team to take that specific task on. Alternatively, can you outsource a task or two?

    For example, my virtual assistant Emma is brilliant at many things. However, preparing Powerpoint slides doesn't play to her strengths. So we went onto fiverr.com and found a Powerpoint expert (who happens to be based in Indonesia). He’s helped me create amazing presentations for the last two years.

    But back to your business.

    If, after all of the above, some team members just aren’t up to the standard, you might still have to let people go and replace them with new and improved team members who are.

    You can’t always avoid that issue, but at least you will both know why the fit isn’t right.

    The best part of all this is it’s a critical step to achieving the three outcomes I outlined earlier:

    • Attracting and retaining good quality candidates
    • Getting the most from your existing team
    • Achieving elite-level performance from your business

    A high performing business that is enjoyable to work in has its team working to their strengths. It’s as simple as that.

    Can you get your team better organised and working to their strengths?

    Let me know how you go.

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