Whether you have one part-time employee or a full-time staff of 20, an organized written training plan will help ensure nothing falls through the cracks. It also provides important consistency from one employee to the next and standards against which you can measure employee performance. Once you have a training template, you can customize it for the new employee by prioritizing training topics and assigning a “trainer” and deadlines for each one. Keep the new employee’s individualized plan updated as training progresses so the trainers and the new employee know which topics are “Not Started,” which are “In Progress” and which have been “Mastered!”
Keep in mind that the best trainer for a topic may not be you; in fact, it may not be a person in your office. Make the most of your time by using available resources to divide your new employee training program into three areas:
Step 1: Training specific to your practice that only you or another staff member can teach.
Your preferences and best practices have developed over time. Teach them to your new employee from the outset rather than leaving things to trial and error, or assuming the new employee will just “catch on.” If you’ve never had written procedures before, document as you train your new employee to create a reference guide. Start with basics, like how to greet clients, on the phone and in person, and how to be a productive team member, including the new employee’s responsibilities, other employees’ specific roles or talents, and common reports or resources used regularly. Explain how your office communicates for purposes of preparing for internal office meetings and client review meetings, resolving client requests and escalating service issues. Your employee will also need training on your office equipment and technology, including copiers, computers and scanners, as well as phone, email and voice mail set up and standards.
Step 2: Training on industry knowledge and procedures that a resource outside your office can teach
As the saying goes, there’s no sense recreating the wheel. Make the most of the time your broker-dealer, wholesalers and local colleges have spent creating resources your new employee needs to learn the job. Your broker/dealer should provide training for advisor staff on navigating its website, submitting and following up on business, who to contact for answers and problem solving, and how business units like compliance and supervision operate. Using your BD’s training also helps your staff member build relationships with home office personnel. Whether or not your staff member has or intends to earn industry licenses, wholesalers offer an excellent resource for training on investment products. And when it comes to general business software, don’t waste your time teaching someone to master Microsoft Excel; find a local or online course for your employee and give them the work time to take the class.
Step 3: Training your employee to recognize additional learning opportunities
Training typically refers to the “how to” of completing tasks, whether it’s a new employee or an existing employee learning a new task. Development refers to the ongoing training necessary to keep up with the industry – particularly one as prone to change as financial services. Encourage your employees to seek out learning opportunities and give them the time (and the money) to pursue them. Reward their expanded knowledge with recognition, whether a verbal congratulations at the staff meeting or an increase in pay. If you build a culture around ongoing development, your team’s capabilities will grow right along with your business.
Chris Kirby, Senior Business Consultant, Securities America Financial Corporation. Chris is a business consultant for Securities America's Practice Management Group and serves as a consultant/coach for the firm’s Business Consulting Service, helping advisors manage a more efficient, profitable and satisfying practice.