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Centre Stage

Centre Stage



Welcome to your front row seats to learn from inspirational business leaders


Centre Stage is our new adviser masterclass series aimed at developing high-level skills you can apply to your team and your business. The series will complement and build on practical everyday skills by enabling you to think bigger, aim higher and achieve more.


We’ve partnered with Australian thought leaders who have an inspiring story to share and important lessons to convey. They’ll encourage you to think differently about the way you approach your business – and life in general.

1. Vanessa Bennett: Creating a high performance culture

Vanessa Bennett is the CEO and Co-Founder of Next Evolution Performance. Vanessa’s workplace strategies develop high-performing people by using neuroscience to optimise productivity, profitability and energy without the risk of burnout. She also teaches contemporary leadership techniques designed to help businesses lead their teams for sustained high performance.

In this video, Vanessa explains how to create a high-performance culture in your business by changing your mindset about how you encourage and energise your team. 

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  • Creating a high performance culture


    What would exceptional performance mean to you and your business? How would it feel to get your team doing more work, in less time, with less effort? How would it feel for everyone in your business to be absolutely attracting great clients? How would it feel to have your business absolutely humming so that everything was getting delivered effortlessly to your clients, on time, every time? That is what we mean by exceptional performance. I'm Vanessa Bennett. Welcome to Centre Stage.  

    I've worked with financial advisers for many years. My background is actually in financial services and I used to work for a funds management company heading up a sales team. Ten years ago, I decided to make the leap and go into performance coaching. I'm a firm believer in you can have wellbeing without high-performance, but you can't have high-performance without wellbeing. Now, it's not all the physical side of things only. We use a lot of neuroscience to really focus on how do we optimise our brain function. That's where the magic happens.  

    So what do we even mean by high-performance? High-performance is making sure that we can get through everything that we want to get throug in the time that we have available and not feeling exhausted at the end of that process. In this episode, we are going to talk about all things high- performance and why it's so important to have a high-performance culture in your business in order to increase profitability.


    The benefits of high-performance


    Well, let's face it, many advisers happen to be accidental leaders. So chances are, you've been a really great adviser so far, and you've got all of a sudden this team around you to support you, but that's not your full time job. And leading them is really important, but it's not something that you want to do all the time. So the more that we can set up a high-performance culture, the less time you'll spend leading. In addition to that, your team will become fully energised. They will be able to get through more work, in less time, with less effort. And that makes everyone happier.


    Now, obviously that makes your job easier, but the flow on effects to your clients are massive. So when your team is operating at its best, you'll get a better client experience, better client outcomes. This means you're more likely to get referrals because you have happier clients. It also makes it easier to attract great staff. It makes it much easier to retain great staff and be able to coach them to really do their best work. So for those of you who might still be wondering whether or not a high- performance culture is really something that you want to dedicate your energy to, it will make a massive difference to your profitability. And that is definitely a reason to do it. 


    A performance culture beyond KPIs


    Of course, I get asked a lot, "What is one of the easiest ways to set and implement a high-performance culture?" Firstly, it's not just about your KPIs. Your KPIs are your key performance indicators. And this is where I see a lot of people use this as part of the job description to hire people.
    And these can be things that you talk about in the performance appraisals that you run with your staff
    as well. Which is great and KPIs definitely need to be in there, however, they're only the first piece in the puzzle. Whenever I run questionnaires with advisers or I run workshops with advisers and I get them to literally put out everything on a whiteboard that drives them a little bit crazy about managing
    their teams, the KPIs don't cut it. Many things could be fixed if we had what we call key BAM indicators. BAM stands for Behaviours, Activities, and Mindset indicators. Think about those little things where someone has just done the job, but maybe they haven't done it with a smile or maybe they've
    been a bit negative. It can just be these little things, which on their own, not that big a deal, but when you continuously let those slide, that is going to detract from the performance in your business. All of these things can be avoided if we're very upfront with what's expected, not just in terms of getting the job done, but the Behaviours, Activities, and Mindset indicators, the key BAMs in order for them to do their job successfully in a way that is really going to energise them and everyone around them.


    An example of a behaviour would be, for example, that when clients enter your offices, they're made to feel very welcome. Not something in the job description, but a behaviour that you want to see throughout your business. An activity might be something like being really clear on deadlines and when things are due. Quite often, the KPIs are just about what needs to be done, but meeting a deadline could be an activity that is clearly stated to help your workflow. The mindset side of things, the mindset is a way of thinking. It could be something like a no excuses approach to getting things
    done. Things aren't always going to go according to plan in the workplace. We get that. But it's how do we think about what is a helpful way to go about solving that problem? There needs to be something in this high-performance culture that clearly articulates what is the mindset that you want your team to come to work with?


    Implementing high-performance in your business


    At this point in time, you might be thinking, "So how do we actually set up these key BAM indicators?" One of the things I often tell advisers is to work backwards. Anytime that you feel frustrated, there's something, either a behaviour, an activity, or mindset that you haven't clearly articulated that you want the opposite of. So I hate it when people make excuses, so therefore I like a no excuses approach to mindset. So the first step in that process is defining your BAMs.


    The second part of it is what do we do with them? And I cannot stress enough, it is absolutely crucial to incorporate these as part of your job description. So many people get as far as the tasks, the KPIs, but so many of the frustrations in managing staff lie around the things that you didn't ask for in the job description. And then we also want to make sure that we are coaching around the BAMs. Coaching not just when things go wrong or when people haven't exhibited some of the Behaviours, Activities, or Mindset indicators that you've set up, but where you see examples of people living and breathing the BAMs, reward that. Absolutely reward that every single time you see it and that culture will start to perpetuate. And when it comes to your performance appraisal discussions, it's no longer just, "Did you do the job?"


    There are two things that I would really encourage you to focus on. The first thing is what we call psychological safety. And that is where people feel safe to ask questions, come up with new ideas, think about things differently, because this gets rid of the whole, "we've always done it this way," mentality. We need to make sure that we're providing an environment where people can ask those questions. And please make sure that you role model that yourself. All right, so make sure that you are approachable in some way, shape or form. Do you have certain times of the day when people can come and ask you anything? Do you have an open door policy? However you implement that, make sure that you are role modeling these great BAMs around psychological safety.


    So accountability is not just getting the work done, but it's getting the work done by the time that person said they were going to get it done by. Now, this might seem really obvious and it might seem like you shouldn't have to ask for it, but you do. It's really important to set up what you mean by accountability, including timeframes. So accountability comes down to the what, the why, the when, the how, the who. With good psychological safety, you'll be in a situation where people feel free to stick up their hand and say, "Actually, I can get that done by a certain time, but I can't do this that I've already agreed to do. Which one would you like me to focus on?" But when that's clearly articulated, then you now know that you've got a discussion that can be had to make sure that this gets delivered. And if it doesn't, it becomes a coaching moment. We talked about this. How might we avoid this happening next time? And then when people meet that deadline, it's really important to celebrate that.


    The first thing is, is to realise is that your high-performance culture will never happen just by osmosis. It needs to be clearly articulated. Ensure that this is something that's included in your job descriptions from here on in. And also included in your performance appraisal discussions. This is something that we need to use to hire the right people and also retain the right people. And just start. It's not something that has to be absolutely done to 100% perfection. So when you incorporate these as part of your business, your culture will lift, your performance will lift within your team, your client will absolutely have a great experience, and overall, profitability in your business will absolutely increase.

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Information on this webpage is provided by Avanteos Investments Limited ABN 20 096 259 979, AFSL 245531 (AIL) and Colonial First State Investments Limited ABN 98 002 348 352, AFSL 232468 (CFSIL). This information should only be treated as educational and not taken as any form of advice including but not limited to financial, business, or marketing. Seek professional advice when necessary. It does not take into account any person’s individual objectives, financial situation or needs. You should read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Financial Services Guide (FSG) before making any recommendations to a client. Clients should read the PDS and FSG before making an investment decision and consider talking to a financial adviser. The PDS and FSG can be obtained from or by calling 13 18 36.

The information, opinions, and commentary contained in the Centre Stage masterclass have been supplied by Vanessa Bennett of Next Evolution Performance ABN 45 611 758 591. Vanessa Bennett of Next Evolution Performance has given CFS their permission to reproduce their information, opinions, and commentary contained in the Centre Stage masterclass. CFS is not affiliated with the third-party provider in the masterclass and does not endorse the use of any of the mentioned tools or products. Please consider the privacy, security and any other relevant risks that may apply from the use of these tools or products.

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