3 Secrets of Unlocking High-Performance Teams
By Terri O’Halloran
In the financial services sector, like many other industries today, teams have become a critical foundation for sustainable growth. As Greg Winsper noted in a recent GAMA International webinar, a highly collaborative culture is a win for the firm, the advisor and the client.
From the firm’s perspective, teaming creates a variety of advantages, including faster skill development, increased productivity and increased client retention rates. For the advisor, the benefits are clear as well, from increased revenue, prospects and referral flow to having more opportunities to apply your unique skills to solve client problems. In fact, the advisors who regularly collaborate with their colleagues to meet customer needs typically stand apart from the rest. A recent LIMRA study found that the most productive advisors are those who partner with other advisors for specialized needs.
Firms are also discovering that a collaborative culture fosters the kind of environment that attracts a growing population of advisors who are looking for greater purpose in their work and deeper connections with their colleagues and leaders.
All of this translates into better service for the clients. They get more value from a team of complementary and collaborative partners who are committed to uncovering needs and finding the right resources to address them.
The question is, how do you make a team approach really work in practice?
3 Factors That Fuel High-Performing Teams
In our research and work with a variety of firms, both inside the financial services sector and in other industries, we’ve identified a few pivotal factors that drive high performance in teams. (For more in-depth discussion, tips and exercises on the critical factors for success, check out Chapter 4 Team Resources featuring Integrity Solutions in the new book, The Power of Teams, from the GAMA Foundation)
- The Team Leader’s Coaching Skills
The best teams build on each other’s strengths, keep aligned and focused on the goal, and work together from a point of mutual respect. It all starts with a great coach.
Team members look to their leaders to provide guidance and support, to run interference when necessary, and to set the example for how the team will operate. We’ve found that there are two key traits that influence a leader’s coaching effectiveness: being goal focused and being people focused. Some are overly focused on people and don’t want to hurt team members’ feelings by challenging them. Others are goal directed to the exclusion of being sensitive to people’s feelings and often may run over advisors. Successful leaders have a blend of both and know how to be flexible to the needs of their team.
- The Team’s Coaching Skills
Coaching isn’t just the job of the leader, though. High-performance teams develop coaching skills within their ranks to create a group of highly effective peer-to-peer coaches.
But keep in mind, this requires a strong, healthy team dynamic. You have to do the work upfront to align attitudes and behaviors around providing value for the customer and to encourage an openness to feedback and new possibilities.
- A High-Trust Culture
We often say that EQ—Emotional Intelligence—is the secret sauce of great team coaches, whether you’re talking about the leader or a peer-to-peer coach. Particularly when the going gets tough, a team can’t thrive without healthy interactions, trust in each other and trust in their leadership. Emotional Intelligence produces traits such as stability, persistence, the ability to stay calm under pressure, and resilience in the face of challenging situations and change — conditions that describe the daily reality for most teams today.
The good news is that unlike IQ, which is essentially fixed, Emotional and Social Intelligence can be developed.
Getting into the Team Mindset
There’s no denying the power of teams in the workplace today, and particularly for your advisors who are used to working solo, this represents a significant mind shift. Make sure the coaching and culture is in place to support a successful transition.
Below is a list of questions to get your team off on the right foot so they can collaborate and coach each other to success:
- Where are we now as a team and where would we like to be?
- What does that look like? How will we determine success?
- What about our team goal(s) excites you? Motivates you?
- What about our team goal(s) de-motivates you?
- What progress have we made with our team goal(s)? Are there revisions/changes we need to make in any goal(s)?
- What incremental mini-goals have we already achieved?
- What new mini-goals do we need to set?
- How will we build belief that our goals are possible?
- What prior successes can we build on? What new beliefs will we need to build?
- What new attitudes, habits, skills, and specialized knowledge do we need to develop?
- What affirmations will strengthen our belief and desire?
- What can we do today that will take us one step closer to our goal(s)?