Creating Better Branch Manager Relationships

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Have you ever considered the role your branch manager’s actions play in your success and satisfaction as a financial advisor? How often do you need them to help you navigate a difficult situation? Do you know how they prioritize their goals and make decisions? Does your relationship with your manager even matter? If you are a branch manager, are you aware of how the atmosphere and achievements in the branch are affected by your management and leadership style?

Chances are most individuals in the financial industry have never addressed many of these questions and are not even aware of the tremendous potential impact that a branch manager’s style can have on an advisor’s success in the business. Yet, my conversations with financial advisors over the past 25 years reveal that an advisor’s level of happiness and job satisfaction is often directly influenced by their level of compatibility with their branch manager.

In fact, developing a positive relationship with your manager could provide the additional support you might need to expand your business, and also indirectly help managers reach their goals. Understanding different branch manager profiles, along with strategies for interacting more effectively with these types, could provide everyone involved with the necessary knowledge to enhance the manager/advisor connection.

As a result of my consulting and coaching work in the financial industry, I’ve begun to recognize key variables and behavioral types that describe the different managerial approaches to the role. While the criterion for measuring success varies from company to company, these behavioral styles remain constant. There are some key factors that appear to differentiate managerial style.

Visionary: Having a vision for the branch and a level of comfort in setting goals to achieve this vision.

Affiliation: Getting energized interaction, helping others and prioritizing the mentor role.

Responsiveness: Being responsive to new ideas and willingness to initiate action.

Data Driven: Being driven by data and respectful of the use of data in decision-making.

The varying levels of each of these factors that an individual possesses, contributes to creating his or her managerial style. From this, four branch manager profiles have been identified: engaged, collaborative, focused and reluctant.

Take a moment and consider where your manager falls on each of these behavioral continuums using The Branch Manager Profile Assessment Tool © (Table 1). Rank each variable from 5 (highest) to 1 (lowest). Next, total the score and look at Branch Manager Profile Assessment © (Table 2) to determine the manager type based on the results.

This table indicates how much of each variable a specific managerial prototype is likely to possess. Managers scoring between four to eight points are reluctant; nine to 15 are focused; 16 to 18 are collaborative; 19 to 20 are engaged.

Manager Types and Techniques For Communicating

Engaged managers can be described as visionary and proactive in their managerial style. They are most likely not producing managers, but see management as a full time goal. They identify themselves as leaders and have a high level of influence over the advisors in their branch. They also prioritize the affiliative aspect of their role and respect data. They are invested in being mentors to motivated advisors and are open to new opportunities to help them achieve this goal. These managers not only have an overall vision for their office, but have identified specific goals to achieve this vision. They want advisors to be “experts” and will have specific suggestions and behavioral strategies for utilizing data that will aid in the growth and development of advisors. They value mastery and want teams to focus on systems and repeatable procedures.

When speaking with an engaged manager you need to appeal to his or her curiosity and desire to change things. You want to avoid focusing too much on rules, structures and procedures, but rather show him or her how your specific needs relate to a bigger picture.

Provide opportunities for the manager to ask questions and seek new information. If you are looking to make a change, be sure to use precise language and help the manager make the connection between your request and improving processes in general.

Collaborative managers are balanced in their approach to management. They are likely to be producing managers, but take the business, compliance and sales aspects of their management role very seriously. They also identify themselves as leaders. However, because of their divided roles as both advisor and manager, they are looking for outside relationships that can help them accomplish their goals. They may have a vague idea of the direction they would like the office to take, but they may get sidetracked because they are often reactionary and responsive to the “issue of the day.” As a result, they are not always consistent with the goals that they set. They have a moderate level of influence on the advisors in the branch, particularly with the advisors to which they serve as mentors.

These managers appreciate immediate feedback. Be sure to keep communications short and to the point, giving them specific examples. It is best to speak with this type of manager in a one-to-one setting, in order to gain their full attention. When making a request, approach the situation in a personal and appreciative way.

A focused manager may or may not be a producing manager, however, he or she is most interested in the business and compliance aspects of the role. This manager’s priority will be avoiding crisis and managing risk. The focused manager is more reactive than proactive in their behavior. He or she will offer support, but does not consider mentoring advisors as a primary part of his or her responsibilities.

Focused managers have a minimum level of influence with the advisors in their branch. They will most likely be neutral about working with advisors in their office, and they will not necessarily be interested in getting overly involved in the process. These managers require that you be direct and concise. Explain your ideas logically, focusing on specific goals, actions and results of your request. It is important to be organized and efficient in your presentation of information, analyzing all possible outcomes. Do not be surprised if they appear rigid and make decisions based on rules and principles established by your firm.

Reluctant managers are usually high-producing advisors that have agreed to take on the management responsibilities of the office. They are interested in data as a means of keeping track of goals. They are focused on efficiency and want structures to be in place to help the office “run smoothly.” They are unlikely to view the mentoring of advisors as a part of their job description. They are reluctant to initiate new programs, and have a minimum level of influence on the advisors in their branch.

When deciding whether to support a project, they will want specific questions answered, such as “how will it be done, when, and how much will it cost?”

This type of manager responds best to detailed and accurate information that is focused on facts. Be sure to give him or her only information that you believe is useful and relevant. Avoid surprises and ambiguity by providing step-by-step structured explanations of your requests and actions.

Effective Communications

Now that you have a clearer understanding of your manager’s behavioral type and priorities, these questions remain: What can you do to interact more effectively; and how can you continue to ensure their support in your goals and success? The solution lies in understanding how to best express your issues and concerns in a manner that will resonate with his or her style.

When reviewing these techniques, consider a past interaction with your manager which did not result in the outcome you were seeking. Now ask yourself how you might have communicated differently if you incorporated your newfound understanding of that person’s approach to management.

Improving your connection to your manager might just be the key to taking you to the next level of success in your career.

This article was originally published On Wall Street.


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