38 INVESTMENT ADVISOR APRIL 2018 | ThinkAdvisor.com
type of individual who will perform
well in that job.
They also create a framework for
training and for performance evaluations. This job clarity helps leaders avoid
relying solely on education, work history and professional credentials as the
Do you have a definition of excellence for each position in your
firm? Do you even know what
the job descriptions say? Do
your employees know what they
say? Are you evaluating people
according to the job description?
An honest assessment of how you
conduct your hiring and reviews
in light of the job expectations
can make a huge difference in
how you manage involuntary
The second step in evaluating your staffing practices is to
define the nature of the worker.
It is critical to match the right
person to the job we expect her
For example, if the position requires
repetitive processes every day, it is not
a good idea to put a multi-tasker in
that role except as a teaching moment.
Almost anyone can do boring tasks for
a short, concentrated period of time,
but if the individual is not properly
suited to the work eventually he or she
Your personal experiences can help
put this in perspective. Have you ever
had a job that you absolutely hated?
Were you qualified to do that job? Did
it stimulate you or bore you? Did it hold
your attention or frustrate you because
it demanded a skill set you did not have?
Did you have the right temperament for
A former mentor who helped me to
become a better manager once advised
me to “hire slow, fire fast.” He pointed
out that I was emphasizing education
and experience too much; character
and potential too little.
He helped me to understand that
there is a linear process to attracting and
retaining the right talent. This process
transcends our natural biases about who
would be great for the business and who
The third step is to define the nature
of the workplace. Clearly, in high-pressure environments like the White
House, one must be alert to the rapid
pace, the constant public criticism and
the tension between permanent bureaucrats and temporary officials.
Advisory firms also experience great
stress from volatile markets, demanding clients, deadlines and overwork.
Leaders must minimize these distractions so their employees can focus on
performing well. Departing employees
may claim it’s about the money — but
oftentimes they are frustrated by the
environment and more pay would not
convince them to stay.
THE RIGHT CLIMATE
A positive work environment is basic
hygiene. Your colleagues need to be
treated with respect, never underes-
timated and given the opportunity to
progress. Abuse, harassment, backstab-
bing and triangulating all contribute to
This behavior must be eradicated no
matter the “special gifts” that the perpetrator may have. Few things annoy
employees more than when leaders try
to justify keeping disruptive individuals
merely because they do other parts of
their job well.
One of the key elements in creating
a dynamic workplace is to abide
by a statement of cultural values. As an example, when I was a
principal in the accounting and
consulting firm Moss Adams, we
evaluated our employees, our
peers and our bosses according to PILLAR, an acronym for
passion for excellence, integrity, lifelong learning, leading
by example, accountability and
respect. Even our CEO was held
to this standard; and for those
who aspired to become partners, their failure to live up to
these values was often the basis
When done right, the three
steps — defining the nature of the
work, the worker and the workplace —
help to minimize turnover, attract talented people and create a sustainable,
By observing individuals in positions
of power and influence, we may glean
valuable lessons. These insights help
us to examine our own leadership style.
Who we hire, how we inspire and how
we drive results determine whether
we are creating a dynamic workplace.
When employees and leaders value the
same key factors, the firm comes full
circle to a shared culture in which all
Mark Tibergien is CEO of BNY Mellon’s
Pershing Advisor Solutions. Tibergien is also
the author most recently of “The Enduring
Advisory Firm,” written with Kim Dellarocca
of Pershing and published by Wiley. He can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Advisory firms also
experience great stress
from volatile markets,
deadlines and overwork.
Leaders must minimize
these distractions so that
their employees can focus
on performing well.