Starting a new practice is a great time to create a positive working environment.

When I started hiring employees to work at our firm, I created engagement standards to set the tone of the organization. Potential employees are provided a copy of our engagement standards in their final interview to make certain that they will be on board with the culture of our organization.

Our corporate engagement standards include:
· Constant curmudgeons won’t fit in, though it is OK to have a bad day periodically.
· We have a passion for excellence and are always expected to do a great job.
· We have open-door communication. Speaking behind each other’s back isn’t permitted.
· All questions are good questions.
· It is acceptable to say “I don’t know” to each other and “I don’t know, but I’ll find out” to clients.
· Lifetime learning through continuing education is valued and expected.
· Everyone pitches in when help is needed, no matter the type of job that needs to be done.
· A balanced lifestyle is highly encouraged.
· Our relationship needs to be reevaluated if we aren’t enjoying and respecting each other.
· Mistakes are an opportunity to learn. Taking responsibilities for mistakes is required.
· We say what we do and do what we say.
· Always do the right thing. We pride ourselves on high ethical standards.
· Complaints are OK, but we must come up with solutions to our complaints.
· We are expected to be competent to the level of our training.
· Trust but verify. We check behind each other to make certain tasks are getting done.
· All employees are expected to follow our client service procedures to maintain efficiency and quality.
· We keep flexible hours for clients and employees.
· Our dress code is very casual on days that we don’t have client meetings. We strive for two days a week without meetings.
· Compensation is tied to revenue and performance as a team.
· We celebrate a job well done.

After potential employees read our engagement standards, it spurs most to want the job even more. We review the engagement standards with the new employee as a team, as it sets the tone for how seriously we take our culture.

Once a year, we review the engagement standards and make updates as a team.

The outcome? We have a joyous work environment, our integrity shines through to our clients and we reduce the chance of making a bad hire.

This has helped Life Planning Partners become the success it is today.

This story is part of a 30-30 series on transitions.

Carolyn McClanahan

Carolyn McClanahan

Carolyn is the Director of Financial Planning at Life Planning Partners in Jacksonville, Florida.