Tips for an Effective Study Group
February 18, 2014
Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.
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I have been talking with a couple of advisor friends about developing an informal discussion group. We would share ideas and updates, but not secrets about the inner workings of our firms. None of us competes with one another, we are all based in different geographic areas and we each cater to different markets. Do you have any advice to make our sessions meaningful and practical?
Mitchell D., California
One of the things I admire about this industry is the willingness of financial advisors to share information with one another. Rather than have the “not enough to go around” mentality, advisors have an abundance mentality which is good for everyone, in my opinion.
Coincidentally, I recently organized and managed a peer-to-peer discussion group at a conference. Here are some of the important things we did:
- Don’t be too informal. In other words, don’t expect the conversation to just flow. Have a topic you will cover at each get-together and stay focused on that. Or, have each person contribute a topic of discussion in advance.
- Have a time checker and facilitator. It’s important to have someone whose sole job is to keep the conversation on time and on track and to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard. Some advisors are more vocal than others, and some need time to process and think. Be sure you allow for both types at your meetings.
- Set some ground rules. What do you want to share within this group, and what’s off the table? How often do you want to meet, and for how long? How much formality or informality do you want to have? Develop agreements in advance to avoid any conflicts in expectations.
- Elect someone to take note and follow up. That person should capture the discussion points or agreements for next steps and then circulate them to everyone who attended.
- Set meetings as far in advance as possible to avoid cancellations.
- Keep it fresh and fun. Most groups end up petering out because they cease to be valuable for attendees. Focus on keeping it interesting and useful for everyone.
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