March 22, 2022

#293 Michael Back – Transcript

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Ben Nash
Hey guys, Ben Nash from the XY Adviser crew here and today I’m pumped to be here with the one and only Mr. Michael Back from human to human. My Michael is a in though what you call him a marketing super genius team overlord client experience something something, Backy, thanks for joining us, buddy.

Michael Back
It’s a pleasure to be here. Thank you for inviting me on Ben.

Ben Nash
Mate. It’s always a pleasure chatting to you. And I’m keen to pick your brain on a bunch of things today. But yeah, I know that you through your work, you work with a lot of different advice businesses. So you, you see from the people in the trenches. So I thought a good place to start was talking a bit about what are the trends that you’re seeing, at the moment, obviously, a bit of a weird sort of dynamic in the market. You know, we’ve got people coming out of COVID. markets aren’t markets down, advisor numbers up down all over the place compliance through the roof. Yeah, mate, what are you seeing out there?

Michael Back
So it’s obviously been a very interesting couple of years, for a range of reasons. But particularly for financial advisors, I think all the business owners I work without that had that oh, crap moment at the start of COVID, where they thought, you know, where luxury goods were not an essential goods, were going to be the first thing cut from people’s budgets. And you know, that people saw that the demise of their business playing out before their eyes. And, you know, job keeper probably helped things tremendously. But ultimately, I think what a lot of advisors and particularly younger advisors who hadn’t been through a crisis before work, was that we’re not really in the advice game here, we’re in that certainty game. And at times, when people were less certain than ever, they almost ran out the door, digitally, to, to find financial advisors to give them comfort and certainty and to make sure that we’re making the right moves. So probably for the first time, in, you know, been been in the industry over a decade. But I think for the first time in in that period of time, I would say finding new clients, and new business is not the biggest challenge that financial advisors are experiencing, I think the quality of leads that people are getting is a challenge. So some people are getting a mix of leads, and not necessarily their ideal clients. But for the most part, business growth isn’t a tremendous challenge. The Perfect Storm that has transpired, though, is that with all the regulation with the aftermath of the Royal Commission, the pain of bringing on the client and the amount of steps required in an onboarding process, if you combine that with the amount of new business that’s coming in the door, it’s creating huge amounts of pain and tremendous bottlenecks in the onboarding experience for a lot of advice firms. So I think most most businesses that I’m speaking to out there are experiencing a lot of back office pain, and there’s this vision in their brain as to it just should be easier. We’ve got all this technology, yet our life is harder than ever, and bridging that gap between where they are and using all these tools that they either already have, or that are out there. And they hear people talk about the bridging that gap between their business as usual and all this great technology that’s supposed to save them time. It is a really, really big pain point that I’m seeing out there. So that’s probably one of the biggest struggles that I’m seeing.

Ben Nash
It definitely I know for us like we’re just in the middle of the big tech transition and it still blows me away with all the advisors out there and all the money that’s in it advice and advice tech that it’s still not yet simple and seamless when it comes to a lot of this stuff. And I think we’ve gone down the path of let’s pick the best of breed you know, tech in their categories and try figure out a way to get them to talk to each other. But realize that, especially in a in a business has been growing, we’ve been experiencing a fair bit of that growth that you mentioned off the back of their COVID disruption, that duplication of data creates, especially with the the spotlight more on compliance. Apart from being inefficient, it creates a huge amount of risk risk to from a compliance perspective and then risk with your clients. And yeah, just an enormous amount of rework. So having having a tech stack that actually talks to each other and minimize that double handling, I think is a huge, huge opportunity for for efficiency, but would also totally agree with those comments. We certainly did. Panic stations in the the front end COVID, my business seized up we we certainly were a luxury good, I think it was like six weeks where it was just crickets for from a new client perspective, which I suppose is understandable. But then the floodgates opened and kicking off from that point. And since then, for us, at least, it’s been definitely those challenges around onboarding clients. But then in when there’s tons of work to do, how do you manage it effectively from a one tech perspective or two, from a from a team perspective and setting your team up for success dealing with the, you know, personal impact, I suppose of COVID lockdowns and people working from their bunker and not being able to do the same things and that you could do pre COVID. And yeah, then people got personal stuff going on. And obviously, it’s impacted. I think everybody’s mental health to some level in in terms of, you know, human as much as I always thought that I could work from a dark cave for the rest of my life, who COVID has put that one to the to the test. Yeah, it’s, it’s it’s certainly challenging. And I think that that, you know, along with the growth, and something that I’ve seen from talking to a lot of advisors through this podcast is, yeah, that that team thing is a real issue, finding good people supporting them in the right way, getting them to work effectively. And yeah, it’s it’s absolutely not easy, because everyone has their own snowflake and different approaches. And then you got to take a business view. So yeah, I feel like, I know that you you have helped me a lot with our team team flow, how we work together, ideas and initiatives to support the team better, and ultimately, to work towards being more productive and effective in the work that we’re doing to drive better business outcomes. What do you see, like, what are some of the mistakes that people make when it comes to team?

Michael Back
Yeah, there’s a whole bunch. And I mean, I think the first thing to mention, really is that there that there’s, there’s no judgment here, like a lot of the time. And it’s the classic case that was so well articulated in Michael Gerber’s book, the E Myth. But yeah, most of the time people start a business because they’re really great at what they do. They’re a great technician, they’re a great advisor. And he calls it an entrepreneurial seizure. So they go, Well, hold on, I’m making, you know, this business, all this money, and I’m only getting paid this amaze, I’ll do it myself. And then they start their own business, and they’re still wearing their advisor hat far too often. And all of a sudden, they build the business to a point where, you know, the income might be slightly higher, but they’re working 60 7080 hours a week, they are absolutely struggling to take any time off. And it’s almost like they haven’t really started a business they’ve, they’ve bought themselves or bought a job with, with the worst possible boss imaginable. And really, that the message in that book is that, you know, there’s three essential roles that are required for a business, there’s the visionary, there’s the technician, and there’s the glue in the middle that translates the visionaries vision into an operational flow, that that helps make that vision a reality. And so I suppose that the reason I bring that up is that a lot of people out there who perhaps, are really great advisors, running businesses, but don’t feel like they’ve got a great culture, don’t feel like they’re doing a good job of hiring, perhaps look at their team and go, I feel like I can be getting more out of these guys and making this a better place to work and having everyone way more productive and engaged. But I just can’t quite crack the code. You’re not alone. That’s one of the most common things I see out there. And so suppose yeah, you can’t be good at everything. And part of the journey of a business owner is becoming a better leader. And so this is probably where the heart of a lot of these mistakes lies.

Ben Nash
Yeah, look, I think it’s like you say that you a lot of people I know myself, when I started my business. I didn’t lie. I was always trying to buy into the previous business that I was working in that didn’t end up working out and I wanted to keep being an advisor and there were some things that I wanted to do a little differently, but I just didn’t want to have a boss. I just wanted to do great advice. And for three and a half years I did that myself, I wrote my wife enough for a year. Well, my now wife and I think if you asked her about my management and leadership skills, she, I don’t know if this podcast is rated, but you might get an interesting response. But then you go, Well, I can’t can’t can’t do all this work myself or don’t want to do all this work myself or want to have some of that freedom, which is why people start businesses why I started a business or one of the reasons at least in the in the first place and realize that you need to get a team around you. But it’s a whole different skill set approach the things that you need to Yeah, to to know and look forward to create that glue. And I think that force for microbe like for my business, it’s a micro business grows into a small business, and in a perfect world, you go okay, well, yeah, we need the glue, let’s who’s awesome at that, and who knows all the stuff, and then let’s just go pay them some money and get them to do it. But like, you’ve got to balance resourcing revenue, you know, where the businesses are trying to actually make a buck. And, yeah, you can’t, you can’t just do that. But in on top of that, one of the things that I’ve realized for myself, while at least, I think is correct, is that, as a leader in the business, you, you also need to take that responsibility, like it’s not really especially in a small, small business, that it’s not something he can really delegate. I have historically, like, done it myself and probably done it half assed because I’d rather tinker around with the spreadsheet or work on a marketing strategy or deal with the client and do those sorts of things to grow the business than I would to run a team meeting or one on one with it with a team member, and you sort of almost see them as the unnecessary, maybe not unnecessary, but that’s the sort of thing is like your financial success, or doing a workout session or something. It’s one of those things that’s important, not urgent, and it’s easy to not do in the moment. But then the compounding effect of not doing it or not doing it or not doing it means that you end up unhealthy, you know, overweight with the ship team. And then you need to work probably, you know, twice as hard to change things and change those habits. So I have now fortunate to have some great team in place that can help from a leadership team perspective can help with the leadership of the broader team. But I’m still and this is only a thing that I’ve been heavily focused on team in the last sort of six to 12 is probably six really, is that I still need to be the driver and across all of the things even if I’m not doing the one that’s doing all other things. So I think in terms of mistakes, it’s probably fair to say that I’ve made them all and then some but what are the biggest ones that you see from from people when it comes specifically to how they set up their teams? And from a team perspective? Yeah, so

Michael Back
I was given some thought before the podcast, and I’ve distilled it down to three common mistakes that I see advisor business owners make. And a lot of this, you know, it’s rooted in exactly what you said before to around. You know, what, I think one of the mistakes that people make, and I mean, this is almost a bonus fourth, but I think it’s like the foundation of everything is that a lot of the time advisors start a business, because they themselves want to do it a certain way. But they assume that the rest of their team are the same. When in fact, if you think about the type of person who wants to be an employee wants to stay in a business, they actually want to be led. So I think probably the first thing people need to think about is that this isn’t just about, you know, telling people what to do. You’re the type of person Ben who probably doesn’t love being told what to do, or love being bossed around. And that’s why you started a business. But there is also a love a type of person who loves clarity, and loves knowing what’s expected of them and loves meeting those expectations. And loves turning up every day and going, I know if I can do these things, I’m going to be productive in this organization, I’m going to be contributing to something bigger, and that’s going to make me feel good. So it’s not necessarily a case that someone like you needs to be a better leader, because that’s gonna make the business successful, but your team actually want you to be a better leader as well. And I know in your case, you’ve got a senior leadership team. That’s the same with them as well. They want to know, they want you to paint an exciting vision for them. They want you to take the business into new areas. And so this isn’t a self serving thing to become a great leader. It’s actually what the people who work in your organization need didn’t want from you as well.

Ben Nash
Yeah, I read a really well listened to a really interesting audio book recently called the motive, which was a real sort of game changer got referred to me by another business owner. And it talks all about the fact that CEO that we’re talking about, see, it’s like a sort of narrative type thing about this CEO. And they talked about the fact that it’s not that a CEO shouldn’t be a leader because they want to be the boss, it’s that they’re a leader, because they’re ready to put in the work to support their team in the best way possible to to get the most out of Yeah, it really sort of struck a chord that it’s not about you, it’s about them. But I would agree with with those comments as well, that I on the sort of, like, boss that I don’t like being boss, I don’t want to be anyone else I just wanted. Yeah, like, I just want to run a good business. And but so I sort of shirk away from having sort of clearly, you know, sort of written clear rules or being strict with people and that sort of stuff. But sometimes, and not to say that you need to be strict, but having clear guidelines, it gives people the lanes that they can work in, and they go Yeah, okay, the this is the expectations, and this is what’s there. And I know for us, and one of the things that I’ve been working on in over the last, like, just the last actually few weeks is like sort of formalizing the core competencies that I think are necessary for each of our team members to be, in my mind successful in their role. And it’s things like things like their contribution to Team flow, and team rhythm. So not just, you know, doing a good job if you’re an advisor, or an associate, or a power planner, or a marketing person or whatever. But it’s that you actually lean into meetings and realize that a meeting is not about you, it’s about the team and that the meetings are there to do that. So it’s funny that you, you something like that, which seems so obvious, but then you you unpack it for someone, and they’re like, oh, oh, yeah, that’s interesting. But it’s potentially something that they maybe just haven’t thought of, or haven’t realized, is as important as what it actually is. And it’s funny, I know that you’ve helped me with a number of other things in the past that, you know, you, you say these things, because we think so much, especially as business owners, you think so much in your head about staff, and the team and that you’re there and you want to you want to look after your team, you want to develop your team, you want to support them, you want them to be happy. But sometimes you say I remember you told me that we were going through a bit of culture change at one point and working with a team member and said to tell them that I really wanted them to be part of the team. And I’m like, That’s fucking ridiculous. Like, of course, I want them to be part of the team. That’s why I hired them why continue to pay their wage every every month. But then I said, I was like, I really value you. And I want you to be part of the team. And oh, wow, like thank you so much for saying that. Oh, my God, like. It’s the simple things that I think we take for granted and go Well, that’s that’s blatantly obvious to us. But it’s not always obvious to every person. And it’s a lot of the buy been smashed in the blink list. As I’ve told you last time we were talking on like these snippets of books, and the thing that keeps coming up is that leaders in the business, a chief reminding officers to just keep, you know, banging on about things. And I’m always reluctant to do that, like I think a lot of people are, but that would mean that you need to be telling people that the things that they should be thinking about thinking about the right things, otherwise, they, you know, there’s too much noise and there’s enough noise in the world. So it’s really, really ineffective.

Michael Back
And that dovetails absolutely perfectly into the first mistake that I outlined here, which is that most business leaders assume their time their team are mind reader’s. And to be quite blunt, they don’t think about the business anywhere near as much as you do. And so a lot of the time when you say things, they in the moment they go, yeah, I get it cool. And then something else happens in their job or in their life. And all of a sudden, it’s all too forgotten. And you might remind them in a few months ago. Ah, that’s right. Yeah, we did say we were going to do that, or I yeah, I was going to focus on that. But I’ve completely forgotten. So actually, one of the biggest favors that you can do to your team is to continually remind them of the important things and then you’ve heard me Will this one out many times, but my concept of the success triangle, which is you know, in order to be successful in anything, you’ve got to have three things. You’ve got to have clarity, capability and motivation. So to put that in a different way, clarity, you’ve got to know what success is and you’ve got to like know what you’re doing capability. You’ve got to be able to do it and so you’ve got the skills, the knowledge Use the time, the talent in order to achieve that version of success, and then motivation. So you might know how to be successful, you might have all the skills, but you just might not want to be successful, you’re never going to get there. So you need to have all three of those things in balance, whether it’s within your business or as a person. But the one of those three areas where time and time again, I feel like successive sabotage is clarity. People assume things are clear, and they’re not. And as a leader, you get frustrated, because things aren’t happening the way they should, or people aren’t focusing on the right things. And most of the time, that’s because you just haven’t made it as clear as you think you have. So there’s probably a chance that whatever that important messages for your team that they’re not connecting with, you’ve got to say it enough times that you can actually they start finishing the sentence for you. And only when you’ve got to that point where you go, right, they’re sick of hearing this, that’s probably the moment when they actually have truly absorbed and understood it.

Ben Nash
Yeah, I’m a huge fan of the success triangle. And I actually bring it into some of the conversations that we we have with team because I’ve found from doing it that sometimes there’ll be things that you work on and that the clarity is an issue, or is the issue at the start, but then you can work to make things clear. And then you might need to develop capabilities or drive motivation in different things as well. I think it’s not to say that someone’s not motivated to do something at one point in time, that they’re never going to be motivated to do it. Or on the flip side, if they were motivated once they can lose that motivation if, you know, depending on what happens as well. So I that’s really interesting half that on, like if there’s a problem, I’m like, Well, is it clear, like capable, you know, is the motivation there? And I think it’s a good way to develop the team when you realize that there’s or recognize there’s either a focus area or something that’s important. Yeah.

Michael Back
I suppose when it comes to clarity, like to make this really tangible to people out there listening. There’s there’s two layers of clarity, right? Like there’s, how do I do my job? what’s expected of me? What’s the process for running this meeting? What’s the process after this meeting? How do I turn that advice discussion into a paraplanning request, like there’s there’s process there. And that’s got to be super clear. And particularly as your business grows, the less clear that is, the more variability you’re going to have in that. I think you touched on this before, but like clarity around critical numbers. So you know, a big part of the journey of being a better leader is not dictating every single input that goes into the process, but respecting the fact that you’ve hired intelligent people who might have a different way of getting to the outcome that you would, but that works better for them. Or it might even be way better than the way that you would get there. And as long as you hire good people and make sure that they’re focused on the right outcomes, they can chart the path from where you are now to where you want the business to be. And so giving people visibility and clarity over what those numbers are, and reminding them of, you know, what the, what the target is where they’re up to having a discussion about what not what might not be working, but almost letting the magic of a great employee help you get there, by just focusing on it more frequently. That’s a really big part of it. But the one that I recommend, like I think most people out there probably go Yeah, okay. I know, I don’t have clear processes. But I already knew that was important, or I know critical numbers. Yeah, I’ve been thinking about that. But I haven’t, you know, got there. But the one that a lot of people underestimate. And in many ways, I’d say it’s the layer of clarity that that could potentially have the biggest impact on your business is really around how to act. So not just how to do the job, but like, how do we choose to behave those people and human beings in this team. And so what I’m talking about there is core values. When I started out as a business coach, to be perfectly honest, I thought, like core values were the biggest loan of length that I’d heard in my life, I thought it was something that people in you know, lecture theatres who were lecturing on business talked about, but in the real world, you know, in successful businesses, this stuff doesn’t actually matter. And I’ve done a complete 180 on that in seeing the difference between good teams and great teams. In my career. Literally core values that are not just clear but are lived every single day is like one of the biggest differences between a good team and a great team. And a lot of the time, you know probably sound like values is I can see from a business owners point of view, they don’t wake up in the middle of the night and go I can’t I’ve just got a core values problem we need to solve that it doesn’t ever feel like it’s the solution to anything. But really, you know, any team has an implicit understanding of like, what we accept and what we don’t like around here, right. And there’s probably a combination of good behaviors that are happening, but you just haven’t made them clear. But there’s probably also things that as a business leader, you get frustrated by an ego wish the team were more this way. So that’s where the clarity piece comes in. But in terms of the problems that it helps solve, core values, if you’ve got a really great set of core values that the team have all bought into, and they are like an important part of the DNA, they’re going to help you hire like they can become criteria through which when you’re hiring someone, you go and look like they’re going to do the job, but they’re not going to fit in because not just because of our vibe, but because there’s five things here and we asked questions around those five core values. And they didn’t really do too well. So we’re saving ourselves a headache in the future. There’s something that the best teams talk about in their team one on ones. Yeah, it’s not just how you’re doing it your job. It’s like, which value? Are you living the strongest? Which value could you be focusing the most on? And really, the best part about that is it’s not as a as a leader or anyone in a business, it doesn’t mean that to be a leader, instead of giving someone feedback and saying, I don’t like when you do this, or this is not how I want you to be it’s like, well, you’re not letting me down as a person. You agreed to these values, we’ve made them really clear to you, since they don’t and here’s the one that I think that perhaps you need to be working on. So kind of externalizing the feedback where it’s people holding themselves against the standard that they’ve been part of creating not just someone’s opinion, or some, it doesn’t feel as personal.

Ben Nash
Absolutely. And I think that actually ties back to what you mentioned around like inputs versus outputs with the team. And I know, like, I’ve gone through a number of different iterations on how do you not just make it clear, but how do we get clear on like, you know, what is actually important, I know, I read his book, great game of business, and they talk a lot about like performance, like a and I was like an end to end performance plan and have a team pulling together towards the same goals. And I think in most advice business, as I know, definitely an hours that it’s like, it’s like a production line in a lot of ways that, you know, advisors doing part of the conversations, then there’s some inputs, then it goes to associates to paraplanners to admin, like, there’s all these these touches, and I, we know that things need to be delivered within certain timeframes to do to deliver the end product in the timeframe that we want. And I built this huge spreadsheets, fantastic spreadsheet, and so many inputs, whereas like, measure all of these inputs from the team, and on like, if you do this, like paint, advice, paint by numbers, you know, I’m going well, this makes sense. Like, if you just do all of these things, then it’s gonna lead to the outcomes. But what I realized was that everyone was mostly ticking the boxes and getting the things done like they were they were doing the outcomes, but they weren’t focused on the client retention, the quality of the client conversations, the status, not to say that they weren’t, you know, the clients were not satisfied, but they weren’t they were so heavily focused on the inputs that, and I thought that those inputs would drive the success that they’re, that they just weren’t, weren’t being achieved. And I think I learned that that one, the outputs are more important, but for, for high performers in particular, they don’t want to be told necessarily how to get there, they’re happy to hear some ideas, and no one wants to reinvent the wheel. But sometimes people have ways that they want to do things and ways are effective in doing things. So you want to get out of their way. And you people are getting to the outcome happy clients revenue targets, compliant advice, you know, refer clients referring because there’s so without the help, that you’ve provided them, and the team is supported, and happy in the work that they’re doing, then that’s a win, and who cares? What how they they’re getting there, as long as it’s all sort of on the level? So is it? Yeah, I think, an interesting sort of switch to go on. That’s the focus. And a big part of that, is that one of those values, which is like, you know, for us, it’s taking ownership and caring deeply about clients, and they’re the things that permeate beyond like just saying, or if you do this, then this is what’s going to happen. It’s like, not really, it’s like if you do this in this way, and then you deal with clients in this way, and you deal with the team this way. And that’s all of that values piece. So how do you for, you know, for me, I’ve found that, like I mentioned the start of a business. So it was just me, then me and Yang, and then we, you know, brought more people in and I think as as businesses grow and develop you, you start building a muscle in these areas and you bring in people at the time and you know that you’re not as focused on these things. So it’s evitable I think that you need to do change management around some of these katine areas over time. What? How should people tackle that? Or what’s an effective approach to you? Firstly, I suppose identify what the most important things are that need to change and then actually implement those changes, because it seems to me that it’s next to impossible to do everything all at once, and then you just learn more, and it becomes a bit outdated Anyway,

Michael Back
Are you talking about if a specific to core values or just any form of change

Ben Nash
Anything, so you’ve got like your you’ve got, you know, value, I’m talking about team specific change, but you know, you got your values, Team rhythm, like the mistakes that you may have made made around, maybe not reminding people as much you know, that thinking that they’re mind, reader’s, all of those sorts of things that, how do you reframe and reshape the the way that we work together as a team to, to drive closer towards where you want to be as a business?

Michael Back
Yeah, so there’s, there’s, there’s two, there’s two natural starting points. And I think it’s got to, you probably would choose your starting point, based on the problem you’re dealing with those two natural starting point, I, if you feel like the team that the business is performing? Well, the team are quite good in their roles. But there’s a little bit of a culture gap, or it’s more than that there’s a variability in behaviors, and you just don’t feel like there’s this consistent attitude towards work. And you just kind of feel like there’s little elements of toxicity across your team, I think that use is definitely the place you need to start. If you feel like it’s more of a performance issue, there’s a lot of wasted time if, if things are taking too long, or the business isn’t growing, or there’s some, I suppose more measurable pain across the business, I would be looking at bringing your team into a business planning framework as your natural starting point. If you so I’ll quickly cover the if you need to start with values how I’d go about that, then I’ll move into the second point, I mentioned that when I used to help businesses come up with their list of core values, it was like this really, I don’t know, it was like this, this kind of painful process where you’re getting teams to fill out surveys and getting their input and then codifying it and going all right, well, there’s some themes here and it took way too long. The way that I found is the best place, at least as a starting point, to getting a shared set of values that your team can buy into is literally to find a list. And I can include one in the show notes that that would help. Which is like 100 core values that are literally every single core value you can imagine. And then just getting the team to vote on the five or 10 that they think most represent the type of business they want your your business to be. And then finding the commonalities and then meeting with the team go right we sent you this survey, here’s what we found and say, here’s the area’s the buy in bit comes in two levels. First is like renaming it. So if the value is what’s gonna say trust, but that’s, that’s kind of like a ticket to the game. I think if you don’t have trust, you don’t, you don’t, you probably don’t deserve to be in business in the first place. But if it was care as a value, and everyone bought into that, actually adding some words to that, and not just using the word care, but making it something that the team have created. And so they feel more ownership over, and then go into a brainstorm process of the team going okay, cool. Well, you know, there’s some I, we’ve agreed that this area around care, which we’ve chosen to be, we look after everyone who comes into contact with our business, that might be the name of the value, and then you go, okay, how can we be living that better and you brainstorm some tangible ways, whether it’s in the advice process or in your team mate relationships, that you can be living that better? So I think don’t try and overcomplicate it, just give a list of values, get people to vote on them, and then get them to brainstorm some actions. But that’s only one part of the process, right? Like doing that degrade. But what happens is people have those great chats, and then three months later, it’s all forgotten. So what’s really important is that you do start building it into one on one conversations into your hiring process. If you have a team meeting, maybe you have a section of the team meeting, which is like people call out someone in the team who’s living the values, it needs to become more part of your business as usual.

Ben Nash
Yeah, absolutely. I think that that rhythm is is all important. And, again, it’s challenging, I think, you know, there’s there’s not a lot of people that live for internal meetings. But it is also the key to working together as a team, having those, you know, remind opportunities to remind people highlight values, highlight good performance, highlight numbers, metrics, inputs, outputs, all of those things and then one on ones and that was a big shift that we’ve made that we’ve done that inconsistently in the past but sometimes just that avenue for conversation, we’ve, we only really started doing it super consistently this year. So only, you know, three months in and just the little things that have come from those conversations will they seem like little things or small conversation, but it’s translated into some massive change in the business and in the absence of those, that wouldn’t be there. So for us, that’s been a huge amount of Baking, baking, not just the the internal the weekly meeting, or the retrospective, or the advice meeting, or whatever into the, into the calendar, but those other ones and, and really rigidly sticking to them, I’ve found to be super, super helpful.

Michael Back
Yep, absolutely. Yeah, I think it went back to clarity, right is that if you get clear on the values, and then don’t keep reinforcing them, that clarity disappears. So it’s really like just making everything super clear. But bridging the gap between this, you know, slightly pretentious word that sits on or phrase that sits on your wall, versus it being really tangible and actionable and making sure that people can live it. I think, I wouldn’t say that every single business out there values is where to start. Because as a business leader, you’ve got 99 problems, and you’ve only got so much bandwidth for change. And so I think it is important that you recognize where you are now what your next move should be. One of the other mistakes I see a lot of leaders make, and it’s basically treating their team like kids, and wondering why they act like kids. And what I’m talking about here is this culture that you see in a lot of businesses, all types of small businesses, and that includes advice businesses, where you’ve got I call it the parenting kids culture, you got these leaders, and they’re responsible for all the big adult stuff. And we’re just the kids, we don’t really know what they’re in those meeting rooms talking about, we don’t really understand if the business is doing well or not. I know that they’re talking about this system or the CRM all the time, but they don’t actually understand why they’re talking about that. You know, I know that the leader has gone on a really nice holiday and just bought a house. So I assume that their business is doing well. But I’m not actually really sure if that’s the case or not. And so bridging that gap between the conversations you’re having at a leadership level, and the rest of the team is absolutely critical. There’s a couple of reasons why. Firstly, it’s it’s you know, what we were saying before that if you’re focusing on the outcomes and the targets, people just find this subconscious, magical way of aligning their behavior to get there. You can do that in a very direct sense to I’ll talk about that in a sec. But, you know, we talk about the challenges that advisors are having finding good people, which is a huge pain point in advice businesses at the moment. And there is this emerging category. And you know, it’s obviously always been there, but I think it’s getting bigger and bigger, which is, there’s a type of person who wants to run their own business, but there’s a ton goes and goes, now, I’m happy being an employee, but I almost want to be able to treat this business like our own. And I want to innovate. In my own way. There’s, there’s a term intrapreneur that that has been coined for this type of person, literally will give blood sweat and tears and care about a business and leave their comfort zone and treat it like it’s their own, but they’re happy to not necessarily be responsible for the ownership of the business, and they quite enjoy having their weekends free and being able to take four weeks of guilt free labor year, and certainly the best employees and whatever role you’re hiring for out there, there’s a very strong chance that they don’t want to just be there to do a job, they do want to do a great job and I want to know what that looks like. But they also want to be involved in whatever percent you can muster. 1020 sometimes more percent of their job is working on bigger projects and business improvement and and taking the business into unchartered waters. And so I think for businesses out there who they have less of a, I suppose a cultural or an attitude based challenge with their team and more of a performance base. Like I feel like this business still has the handbrake on. And I think we could release the handbrake. The solution for someone like that, I think is to consider ways to bridge the gap between business planning, and what the team are doing every single day creating a more shared conversation around the strategic direction of the business. And most importantly, gathering ideas for how you can hit your goals with the team. And the bit that sometimes confronts the team is also distributing responsibility for implementing some of this stuff to them as well. A lot of the time people are used to been in these big businesses where they can just give a good idea and everyone’s like, that’s a great idea pat on the back. But the the cultural shift that i i would recommend you entertain here is not just rewarding people for coming up with good ideas but rewarding them for implementing on those great ideas and executing on them. And that is that is another mistake. I see business leaders making probably more on the optimistic side. When I say fantastic businesses out there, it’s because they’ve got these teams of linchpins, who are who are treating the business, like they own it, and then doing things every single day that are making their business better and better.

Ben Nash
Yeah, absolutely. It’s it. And it’s also like, come up with an idea and and an idea on how we can implement it. But the the other thing that’s sort of in line with that, I think, which I found to be quite helpful is like, don’t, we want the team to come to us with problems, but we don’t want them to just come to us with problems. It’s like, come to us with a problem and three potential solutions and what you think could work best. So I think, creating that Ownership mindset, like you say, the parent child, like adult child conversation, it’s like, okay, well, there’s a problem, or there’s a frustration, like one, bring it to our attention so that we know that it’s something that needs to be prioritized, so that we can work on it. But to tell us what you think, like, you’ve obviously got ideas, especially if it’s your work that I know that some businesses are a bit resistant to change. But I think most of the new sort of, you know, more forward thinking businesses realize that things need to change, they need to change, you know, not all the time, but fairly frequently, given that everything seems to be changing all the time. So empowering the team to know that you will work on those things. But to give, like, we try to give them a starting point, when it comes to, you know, how process or the things that they can do. It needs to go both ways as well. And I think harnessing that collective brain power is a huge amount of strength in in businesses, you hire smart people, you hire them for a reason. So utilize the brain that’s in there. And and use that to drive business outcomes. But I could honestly talk to you about this all day. And I potentially will, if you’ve got the time after this. But my my last question for you is, well, obviously, we covered a ton of ground there in terms of things for people to think about when it comes to team. But I’m a big fan of that premise of like, what is the one thing for most people and appreciate that it is different for different businesses. But if I had to say, what is the one thing that that people should be nailing to make everything so that easier or unnecessary when it comes to team what would be the big focus that you think people should have front of mind?

Michael Back
I think I’m going to make an assumption that you’ve gotten good people in your business, and you just want to get the most out of them. Obviously, if you have the wrong team, there’s some bigger discussions that need to happen. But let’s assume that your business and you got a good team, but you just feel like they’re leaving 10 20% in the tank, I 100% think that the best thing you can do. And a lot of leaders wouldn’t know this, but having critical numbers that represent the success that you want the business to achieve over, say 12 months. And not just from a profit point of view. But you know, if we’re looking at operations, like what would a successful 12 months be measurably? And having that level of clarity over here’s exactly what a successful year for us looks like dovetailing that like showing that to the team and then dovetailing that into a brainstorm where you choose one or more of those numbers and go, How can we get there, and then putting a plan around that that to me ticks, so many boxes, because it starts to create this culture where the team realize that they are responsible for the success of the business, it doesn’t lay in the lap of one or two people. It starts to give people this voice in the business where they realize that they not just can speak up, but they’re expected to speak up. But yeah, more to more to the point, you actually just aligning people in the same direction. So instead of having four or five people who are focusing on slightly different things, and we all know those projects we have in our business that have dragged on far too long, because you get distracted and things things get in the way and you become like the kind of home renovator who has a bunch of changes to the house that are just 80% done. If you can align the team towards one or two key priorities that you have collectively agreed are going to take the business in the direction you need to take it. You just got to get more done. And so I think you’re going to become a business known more for execution rather than ideas. So yeah, for me, the one thing that every business should be doing out there, if they want to sustain innovation and success in the future and have a team of people who are taking that business forward and becoming the type of place that great people want to work. It is building your team into the innovation cycle in your business and that starts with business planning, setting the right outcomes and making sure people realize that when you are having a chat with them about how their job is going, it’s not just about that the advisor handle the power plant handle the admin hat, but how well you’re participating in this other side of the business that we’re expecting you to participate into.

Ben Nash
I love that on so many levels, because I feel like it ties in with a lot of the things that we’ve already covered that it forces people to focus on. What are the priorities, you know, the things that they should be thinking about focused on working towards gives clarity between the team, adult child all of that stuff? Yeah, I love it. I actually just made a note there that we needed to do that a little bit better over the next little while. So mate, thank you so much for sharing your insights for anyone that’s keen to learn more about what you do, what’s the best way for them to reach out?

Michael Back
Yeah, so website, always a good place to start, which is human to human Comdata. You to spell to. But I also have a lot of conversations on LinkedIn. So feel free to find me on LinkedIn. My username is Michael J. Back. And if you have any questions that you’re big or small, that I can just answer over LinkedIn, I’d be happy to do so I’d love to help in any way I can automate.

Ben Nash
Well, thank you again, really appreciate it. I’ll catch you next time.

Michael Back
Sounds good. Thank you for having me Ben

Ben Nash
Always a pleasure Backy. See ya bud.

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