Step right up: A guide to seamless transitions on your team

By W. Lloyd Williams | April 18, 2003 | Last updated on April 18, 2003
3 min read

One of the greatest challenges we face as advisors is building larger teams to service the needs of our clients. Our employees gain a tremendous amount of knowledge as they mature in their current positions. So how do we facilitate passing on this “brain trust” to a new hire or replacement?

This task can be so daunting that we may choose to keep one of our team members in a particular job simply because it seems too difficult to pass on the skills and knowledge. But if your entire team understands the following four-step process to promotion, you can maintain a high level of confidence in each position at all times.

Let us look at these four steps in detail:

1. Master the process

The first and most important requirement for a team member is to master the position at hand. Before anyone can expect to be promoted, he must first master the current position. Before trying to make any changes, the employee must fully understand the procedures, processes and systems that are already in place.

The employee must also understand why the components of his role were designed the way they were, because without that background, obstacles or problems might be missed. The requirement of mastering the current position builds the confidence to repeat this process over and over again with each new challenge.

2. Improve the current position

After an employee has mastered the current procedures and processes of his job, he now has the experience and knowledge to look at the job from a different perspective than the previous team member, thereby adding value to the team. With a supervisor’s approval, the team member can contribute to streamlining these processes and procedures. By maximizing efficiency, the team member is able to contribute to the brain trust and improve the effectiveness of the team to service clients and exceed expectations.

3. Document the process and procedures

Documenting the brain trust of a team member is the most important step in the promotion process. Have your employees document the procedures and processes for every task they’re responsible for and place them in a checklist format. This checklist of duties or tasks identifies all the steps necessary to perform a specific procedure in such a way that someone with no previous knowledge of the position could complete the activity with the checklist. This outline can be placed in a notebook or, better still, on the office computer network in a procedures directory to allow access by any team member at any time.

Now, when a team member goes on vacation, a specific procedure or task can be delegated to another team member who can very quickly go to the online file, print off a copy of the checklist and immediately execute that activity. Whether it’s the process to transfer a new account or switch to a new money manager, each of these actions can be documented in an easy-to-follow format. This efficiency has an added bonus for the absent team member, as he will not have to return to a desk covered with unfinished tasks that were put on hold until his return.

The importance of documenting processes and procedures cannot be stressed enough. Before a newly promoted team member can train a replacement, all of their knowledge must be moved from head to paper. 4. Pass it on by mentoring

Once a position has been mastered, improved upon and documented, the employee is now able to mentor his replacement. The new team member also has a checklist of all necessary tasks for the position and can immediately begin to function in the new role. The learning curve now has a crutch or helper in the form of these checklists.

In addition, the employee who has been promoted does not have to focus 100% of his time on the education and training of the replacement. His role actually becomes one more of mentoring and oversight while he simultaneously begins to perform the tasks and responsibilities of his new position. This phase allows each team member to gain management skills and mentoring experience. It also helps you identify the employees who excel at mentoring and training and who deserve more opportunities as your team continues to grow.

The four-step promotion process gives an employee who has been a tremendous asset to your team the opportunity to take on greater challenges and to find new ways to contribute to the team.

W. Lloyd Williams