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The Four Key Factors to Motivating Employees: P4

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One thing I’ve discovered in working with hundreds of advisory firms and their thousands of employees over the past 10 years is that the key to managing employees—and to having a great firm—is to motivate employees to be fully engaged in helping clients and building the firm they work for. There are four essential factors to motivating employees, which I call P4.  Here they are:

  1. Preparation: According to my research, in the first seven weeks on the job, most employees determined if the job they just accepted is the “right” fit for them long-term. That’s your window for truly getting them on board. To create great employees you need to focus the first three weeks of training on “how to be a great employee,” rather than on technical, client and operational aspects of the job. The first step, and the greatest motivator, is helping people understand “why” they are doing their jobs, and why you hired them.  Talk about the “why factor”—not telling people “what” to do or “how” to do their job, but rather telling them “why.” The “why factor” is giving people purpose in their careers.  Without purpose, we cannot motivate.
  2.  Pay:  Unlike any other profession, employees in financial services are trained on how personal finances help you achieve life goals.  Structure a fair compensation package (based on what other employees in the industry in similar jobs make) and communicate it to an employee so that they are “not working for your money” but rather “working for a life purpose.”  This includes direct communication about how their salary was determined and creating revenue-based bonus structures that immediately tie employee’s positions in the company to the success of the company. (I recently blogged specifically on the right and wrong way to implement revenue-based bonuses at
  3. Perqs:  According any next-generation research out there, the overwhelming majority of today’s employees have the mentality of “live first, work second.”  Traditional benefit packages are not enough to motivate people who think this way. The key is to implement unique benefit packages that enable employees to say, “I have no sharp distinction between my work and my play,” including flex time, generous time off, a team-oriented working environment, and an overall focus on doing a good job rather than punching a clock. Most of your employees could undoubtedly make more money working for a large corporation. They chose not to, usually for a better lifestyle: Make them happy with their choice.
  4. Productivity:  Today, most employees’ productivity is directly related to the technology that is provided to them.  It is very difficult to ask employees to work 40 to 50 hours a week on antiquated software that takes three or even four times as long as it should to perform their jobs.  If companies do not maximize the productively of their technology, employees believe that they are saying: “Your time and contribution are not important.” Great advisory firms today place a high priority on the investment they make in technology hardware, platforms and applications, to provide their employees with the right tools, to enhance employee performance, contribution to the firm, and job satisfaction.

Implemented as a cohesive program, I believe that  P4 can motivate your employees to become great employees, and elevate your practice into a great firm.