Operational managers for large investment firms can easily tell when back-office
performance is poor.
- reconciliation and performance reporting errors
- missed deadlines
- lack of skills development
- bad communication
- high employee turnover
As head of operations, you’ve likely dealt with this issue before. You may have fired a few employees, too.
If they weren’t fired, they will have quit on their own. A Gallup poll revealed nearly 50% of employees leave their company because of bad bosses.
You can point to everything others have done wrong, but no matter how many times you’ve raised your voice or told a staff member not to bother you when they need help, back-office reporting performance is not improving.
It takes courage for a leader to consider if he or she is part of the problem, but operational improvement and efficiency can only occur when management looks inward and asks themselves, “What can I do better?”
Improving Your Back-Office Operations Management Skills
Change Your Attitude
- Are you optimistic or pessimistic?
- Would you describe yourself as warm-hearted or cold?
- Do people look forward to seeing you, or do they fear your presence?
How you carry yourself plays a foundational role in ultimately achieving operational excellence. It’s the difference between your staff trusting you as their leader versus distrust and a broken
relationship from the get-go.
It’s a lot easier to buy into your vision of being the best middle- and back-office operations when you’ve sold them on you.
Control Your Emotions
- Do you have a tendency to explode?
- When someone has a question or comment you don’t like, do you get angered easily?
- Do you find yourself passing your anger and frustration from non-work related issues onto your employees?
We’re human; we get upset and disappointed, but consider how often you use your “emotional credits”.
Overuse them, and you’ve convinced your employees that you’re just an “angry boss”. Consequently, they are less willing to admit wrongdoing. Your angry boss persona will devalue legitimate criticism or feedback, and your staff will be less likely to make positive changes.
Use your emotional credits wisely so that when you are truly angered, your team will respect your feelings. Nobody wants to let down someone they like and trust.
Make Time to Help Your Staff
When employees approach you with a problem, do you get easily frustrated or simply tell them you don’t have time to help?
Think about your responses. A negative reaction might discourage them from asking for help in the future. An employee will rationalize that upsetting you and being scolded in asking for your help isn’t worth it.
Trust and communication deficits will hurt the team’s performance. If you have the ability to help the employees, you should.
Maybe someone has trouble processing a corporate action, or they might need help restoring accidentally deleted data. Whatever the reason, help them become experts in your portfolio accounting system. It might require an investment in time early on, but it’ll pay off.
After helping your staff initially, consider ways to limit their need to go to you (see below).
Takes Steps to Prevent Repeat Questions
When someone asks for your guidance, have them take notes. Make it a policy if you must.
For example, if you’re showing a staff member how to perform corporate actions like reorgs or reverse stock splits, make sure they are documenting the process.
Likewise, if there is no existing documentation that could have answered their question before they went to you, then update the process. If it’s a certain employee’s job to update the documentation, have them on it.
Equip More Experienced Staff To Help the Less Experienced
Making time to help your team does not take away from the fact that you are busy and your time is limited.
Give your more experienced employees the responsibility to assist those with less. Arming your more senior team members with everything they need will also be a time investment, but it’s worth it in the long run.
Create a list of everything you want these staff members to know and create a schedule for when you’ll transfer the knowledge and skills.
Improved Back-Office Operations Performance Realized
Whether you’re an operations director for a hedge fund, family office, or wealth or asset management firm, changes in your attitude and better control of your emotions will ensure you win over your staff at the beginning.
Strengthen their trust in you by helping them early on. After that, equip the team with the resources to help themselves or relegate tasks to other senior staff, which in turn, allows you to trust in your staff.
Your commitment to self-improvement will have translated into fewer reporting errors from your back-office team because you will have invested time in developing them, which also requires good communication.
And with the developed skills to complete tasks in a timely manner, deadlines will be met.
A more functional and harmonious middle- and back-office operations will naturally result in less turnover, and the improved operational efficiency from your leadership and management will have you saying, “I did better.”