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By JC Abusaid

To profoundly commit to the future, you need to first look inward. Transforming your firm to create a legacy that will continue to thrive long after your current management is gone isn’t easy.

Creating a culture of excellence

To last, you need to grow. In a relationship business like ours, great people are everything. Your hiring process should be diligent–a gauntlet of diverse interviewers and environments. To retrain great employees, they need to be offered a culture where they’re supported in achieving excellence. It’s also important to focus on keeping your promises and delivering results.

The key emphasis here is that your team knows that you’re constantly attuned to their experience. We suggest creating a safe process that encourages input on promising new ideas.  Some other suggestions:

  • Maintain an open door
  • Create strategic plans and consistently communicate them
  • Meet weekly with the entire team update them to better understand what’s working (and what’s not)

Associates are #1

By supporting your associates, they will in turn provide amazing service to your clients. It’s hard, but don’t just blindly believe that the client is always right. The occasional client may talk down to associates or otherwise make it clear that the relationship is untenable. In cases like these, you should consider firing the client. Associates are your most important asset, and they should always come first.

Investing in people

This means promising — and delivering — professional growth. Consider funding education, professional licenses and designations and map out career paths and options. This includes:

  • Schedule quarterly reviews and deliver timely feedback
  • Assign every associate a mentor
  • Offer unconventional benefits like an in-office nursery for working parents, yoga classes, unlimited vacation days, and relocation allowances
  • Recognize accomplishments at staff meetings and celebratory lunches

Growing and innovating

Growing to last means careful attention to detail, which means working on efficiencies and checking effectiveness. Any culture of excellence is designed to support risk-taking and innovation, but your operational budget has to match. Budgeting for innovation is key. Trimming your profit margin to afford to try new stuff, like stand-up desks or pioneering approaches to client discovery process is important.

Be willing to try and fail, if necessary. Invest the time to understand business processes and create consensus to leverage associates’ time and use technology smartly. The goal, always, should be to improve the client experience.

Transformation takes time and a relentless work ethic, but if you commit you’ll find that you can build a culture to span decades.

JC Abusaid is President and COO of Halbert Hargrove.

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