Six Things Your Team Wants You to Do

Beverly Flaxington Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

I have run a practice for many years with just one other person in an administrative role, but after a number of changes that aren’t relevant here, I had the need to hire five more people. It is so different. The new employees ask for things I haven’t even thought about, and then don’t seem to care about other things I have put in place. What kind of structure is most important?

Mark S.

Dear Mark,

There is so much information I would really like to have before I answer this. What kinds of roles or levels did you hire? What prompted the changes within your firm to grow so quickly? What things have you put in place that your team doesn’t seem to care about? If I have more context, I could be a lot more helpful here. However, knowing what I know, let me give you a few basics that could fit in any context. Here are the six things most any team member would value and appreciate:

  1. Be clear on roles and expectations. While you and your administrative person probably wore many different hats (and had to do so), the bigger your firm grows, the more important it is to have each and every role clearly defined. Don’t just write a typical job description and put it in the file. Instead, be clear about the expectations for the role and how it interacts with other roles within the firm.
  1. Communicate the roles and expectations. Of course you don’t share personal information but you can share org chart related info. Who does what, when, how and to or with whom? Let others know where each role fits vis-à-vis their own so there is no confusion or overlap.
  1. Have established communication protocols. This could mean anything from having a lunch brought in once per month while you update the team on the firm’s progress, or obstacles or weekly emails that go out with updates or one-to-one sit-downs with each team member on a weekly, or every other week, basis to check in. Ideally you would do all of these things, but don’t commit to more than you can reasonably follow through upon.
  1. Create teambuilding opportunities. These can be formal or informal. It is very powerful for any team to coalesce by working together on solving a problem or creating an important process. Assign a desired outcome to your team and let them come back with alternatives and plans for integration.
  1. Provide a forum to discuss obstacles. In too many cases leaders don’t want to hear the problems so they squash any opportunities to talk about what needs to be fixed. Instead, welcome their insights and help them to categorize – what can they control, what can they influence and what issues are out of their control? Once you define some things they can control, it could give you the team assignment for #4 above.
  1. Help them to learn about different styles and then to come up with communication practices between each other that work. Some people are outgoing, some are more introverted – neither is right but the two together can have friction. A true gift for any team is being able to see, objectively, their own styles and how they work together. Learn more about styles here: