By Ron Tanner, Shirlaws UK Business Coach
A couple of months ago I coached the directors of an independent financial advisory company on starting a “functionality” project. The concept behind this project was to drive the right people in the business into doing the right functions in the business. From a historical perspective the directors had taken care of everything and thus created a limit to the growth of the business and placing unnecessary reliance on them. By introducing functionality the staff had become empowered in the business and taken responsibility for a number of key areas.
As a coach, my job is to make the directors’ job seem easier. In Shirlaws we do this by creating frameworks so the ‘content’ of the issue can be easily categorised and thus easily understood by all. This stops the process of the directors walking around with a list of things they have to fix in the business and helps them focus on only one or two key things, for example the ‘context’ of what they need to do.
What’s ‘context’? To understand this concept in an organisation I facilitate a discussion around questions like: What’s causing you problems in your business? How do you task decisions in difficult areas of your business? Where is there currently frustration or stress? The answers to these questions usually fall into the ‘putting out the fires’ or ‘crisis management’ categories. I find most decisions in business are taken as a response to those who scream the loudest and get the most attention.
In this company the compliance issue wasn’t a bushfire but it sucked a lot of the management time and energy. The answer was not to throw more resources behind it but to ask why is was occurring? Context is about discovering what’s behind the issue and getting clarity of the end game.
Compliance, like accounting and admin, is one of the things you have to do when you run an IFA practice. There’s no getting away from it. However there’s no need for it to become an anchor trailing off the back of your ship. When the directors looked behind the compliance proves they were running, they realised it wasn't aligned with the vision they had set out for the business. They wanted a company where individuals took responsibility and were proud of their jobs. By holding this as a ‘context’, compliance took on a new meaning and they began to have a strategic conversation about how and who could manage it better. The conversation moved away from the ‘how’ to the ‘why.
The result of this has been to free up more energy in the business. Energy to go and create more revenue; energy to take time to align the business vision and energy to take time to communicate to staff. Stay tuned…
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