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Twice a year, our team meets for business planning sessions.

We convene at a beautiful lakefront property a few hours north of Toronto. We plan and make meals together. Our meetings are followed by boating and swimming in the summer, and cross country skiing or attending concerts in the winter. Our culture is casual, fun, team-oriented and collaborative.

Read: Keep staff and clients happy

A few years ago, another coach was considering joining our team. On paper, he had all the right qualifications. So as part of our selection process we invited him to one of our retreats.

It was obvious he wasn't a fit.  He did not gel with our team and atmosphere. He didn't offer to do the dishes once. He didn't end up joining us.

Read: What can you do to motivate your staff?

If you had to define the culture in your office, what words come to mind?  I've heard advisory firms described as professional, competitive, fun and creative. An advisor I spoke to recently was looking to make a change as he was tired of working in a culture of fear.

If you're trying to foster a better culture within your practice, try these steps:

1. Define your ideal culture by determining your values and beliefs.

2. Assess where you are now. How would you, your employees, and clients describe the culture of your office? If you want an honest answer from team members, sometimes using a third party facilitator or an anonymous survey can help.

Read: Keep staff happy with benefit plans

3. Are there gaps between the ideal and your current reality? You may need to make some changes. Maybe it's a certain team member who is not a fit.  A communication strategy may help your team and clients understand your culture.

4. Take corrective measures. For instance, if helping people is one of your core values, but doesn't reflect in the team's daily activities, a team-building event like working together at a charity may help.

5. Sometimes it's your physical environment. Moving to an office that better reflects the potential of the firm could boost productivity.

Read: Are you accessible to clients?

April-Lynn Levitt, B. Comm, CFP, is a coach with The Personal Coach. April provides support to Western & Central Canada financial advisors. She has experience as an independent financial advisor and as a top Financial Consultant and Regional Manager in a Calgary office that managed $1 billion for physicians and their families. You can follow April on LinkedIn.
Originally published on Advisor.ca

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