In financial services, employees’ interactions with clients are critical to the success of the organization. Here are two myths and one absolute for creating a more aligned staff.

  • Pay them at or above industry standard, and they will be great employees: myth.
  • Empower them to make decisions, and they will be focused on proactively serving as if it were their own company: myth.
  • These two above will always be myths and will never work unless they believe in you and the firm: absolute.

Employees need to believe in the mission and direction of the firm; moreover, they really need to like the people they are working for. If they don’t, it is impossible to give what others who do believe can give and accomplish.

However, simply sharing the mission and having employees memorize it doesn’t get them to believe it. One firm I worked with thought the solution was to have their 20 employees chant the mission every Monday morning. The result was the staff rejected the mission and called in sick on Mondays. So how do you get your employees to “believe” in what you are doing? Here are three fairly simple strategies I’ve seen work at productive, well-aligned firms:

  1. Hold a weekly staff meeting or weekly one-on-one meeting with key employees to communicate tasks and get to know each other’s work habits. Communicate what’s happening at the firm.
  2. Always share the “why” you are doing something or are asking them to do something. This gives meaning to the work that your staff is doing.
  3. Listen to your staff and act on some their suggestions. This is a sign of respect.

Conversely, if there is an employee that does not meet your expectations after repeated efforts to have them align with the firm’s mission, you must move on. Waiting only prolongs the inevitable. Don’t sacrifice your client service because of mediocre employees.

Ultimately, you can’t get your staff to work hard if they don’t want to, and you can’t empower your staff to make decisions if they don’t like working for you. And they won’t do much if they don’t see something in it for them. That something may not be money – but fulfillment in the work they spend their lives doing – for you.

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Maribeth Kuzmeski is the founder of Red Zone Marketing LLC, which consults to Fortune 500 firms on strategic marketing planning and business growth. Kuzmeski has personally consulted with CEOs, entrepreneurs and professionals. For more information, go to www.redzonemarketing.com.