photo of consultant Angie Herbers

As advisory firms have been forced into a remote work environments, firm owners have discovered new ways to connect with, motivate and hold  employees accountable to goals outlined in their strategic plans.

What most advisor owners may not fully appreciate about employee performance with this cultural shift is that it’s more important to understand an employee’s unique type of intelligence in a remote environment rather than look primarily at their behavior.

When employees are working on their own — in a remote environment — they tend to default to their natural state of intelligence, i.e. what’s easiest for them. As a result, it is critical to understand your employees and their strengths to keep them focused on the work that needs to be done.

Using Employee Assessments

There are many assessments available to find the strengths of an employee. Many focus on behaviors, of which I am not a fan, but Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences is helpful.

The theory states that everyone is born with an inclination toward a specific type of intelligence. By understanding this, you can get the best out of your employees.

Gardner proposes that there are eight types of intelligence: Spatial, Linguistic, Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, Logical/Mathematical, Bodily-kinesthetic, Musical and Naturalist.

Overcoming the stress that a remote workplace often requires advisor owners to build a self-managed culture. And this is built on an interpersonal intelligence, that is, the capacity to detect and respond appropriately to the moods, motivations and desires of others, and understanding how your own internal motivations work.

But not everyone is naturally inclined toward interpersonal intelligence. We must learn and teach its application to improve self-management, most especially to those who struggle with it. And the key is knowing who struggles with it, which Gardner’s intelligence assessment will identify.

If a firm focuses on those employees who do not have the highest level of intrapersonal intelligence, that is, capacity to be self-aware and in tune with inner feelings, values, beliefs and thinking processes, and helps them develop it, it ends up with an intrapreneur culture.

These are self-actualized groups who own their work and operate as solo entrepreneurs working toward the same goal within the overall organization.

These are the best cultures to have because it decreases management of human capital and develops a deep level of trust for advisors and their service teams to work effectively — anywhere together.

How to Create Intrapreneurs

1. Focus on yourself. 

The first step to growing interpersonal skills is to look inward and focus on how to improve yourself.

This has to happen before you try to improve others. I call this “dropping the rope,” where you learn to accept that you can’t pull or push others; you have control over only yourself.

2. Find your motivation.

During the self-improvement step, you’ll become more aware of what motivates you. Everyone has different motivators, but in this case, we’re talking about non-incentive-based motivation.

Do you want to help others? Be seen as good? These are the questions you have to ask and answer as you focus on improving yourself.

3. Listen.

Self-management is really about listening to yourself. It’s important because what’s actually most important may not be what you’re telling yourself is the priority.

Stop making judgement calls, face reality and do the most important task on your list first instead of convincing yourself you can do it later. Progress begins with small steps.

4. Innovate 

As you begin to focus on growth in terms of being better today than yesterday, instead of focusing on numbers and revenue, you’ll arrive at the final step, which is clear-minded innovation.

Mastering yourself allows you to understand how you work best. Instead of creating a culture where you come in at 8 a.m. and leave at 5 p.m. like the offices of the 1990s, you can self-manage and create a routine that works best for you.

Once you reach this stage, you’ll be more likely to come up with unique ideas for your business because you’re training to work during times when you function at optimal levels.

Adopting Intrapreneurial Skills 

By working through your own process, you’ll arrive at a deep acceptance of not only who you are, but also who your employees are and what makes them unique. When you reach that point, you’ll be able to achieve a way where great teams are created in remote environments.

Creating an intrapreneurial attitude throughout your culture can be taught, but it also has to be modeled.

Especially today where firms are virtual, sharing your experiences and showing others how you approach work is the best way to grow your entire team’s skills and develop a self-managed workplace.