Implementing radical change without being an authoritarian

Convince others that what you want is what they want, too.

Implementing radical change without being an authoritarian

A while back, Jason C. Staas, FCIF, M.S., had a bold idea to transform his agency in Dayton, Ohio, USA. This idea involved bringing advisors together to share clients and commission structures, while also allowing them to specialize in certain facets of the industry. The problem? He needed buy-in from his entire team. Staas set to work persuading his 21 advisors to adopt his unusual concept, but it wasn’t easy.

“At first, it was very challenging because I wasn't using thought leadership,” Staas said. “I was trying to use antiquated methods of, ‘Hey, this is what we are going to do, and you're going to comply because this is my agency, and it’s my way or the highway.’ That did not work.”

Staas came to understand that the way to convince his team to buy into his vision was by turning it into a shared vision. He needed to include the perspectives of his team to make everyone as excited about the idea as he was.

This required lengthy conversations with each advisor that essentially amounted to a review of their entire career. But rather than Staas detailing each advisor’s performance, he listened to what they had to say. He was specifically interested in each advisor’s passions, goals and struggles. Then he drew patterns from their responses, which he connected to the new system he wanted to implement.

“For example, we were seeing that a lot of guys with several years’ experience here have achieved some level of success,” he said. “But those advisors were really passionate about, say, expanding their office to include more staff, leveling up and then achieving higher levels of production so that they can obtain Top of the Table.”

The next time Staas tried to sell his new system to his team, he made sure to present it as a vehicle by which they could achieve that type of goal. Then he went a step further and let each advisor workshop the finer points of the idea, giving them an opportunity to advocate for their interests. Inviting team members to help him flesh out those details turned his individual idea into a team idea. Now, everyone could get excited about their contributions.

After soliciting group ideas, Staas scrutinized the list and whittled it down, filtering out the hardest, most expensive and least productive suggestions. What remained was a plan everyone could agree on, where most of the group could point to something they wanted.

“We focused on the best ideas on the ‘could’ list and moved them to the ‘should’ list,” he said. “It's now all of us with the idea to work as a team. Even the construct of how we function as a team was generated by the team itself. And it was predicated on goals, passions and struggles. We determined how we can make it work in our system.”

Contact:   Jason Staas  jason.staas@kofc.org