Industry Insights

McChrystal Group Industry Insights: Financial Services

McChrystal Group's data shows a lack of communication among middle managers in the financial services sector, leading to teams having less predictable work rhythms. McChrystal Group partnered with a leading financial services provider to change communications and information sharing to establish efficient and predictable work rhythms, leading to increased information sharing and collaboration among teams.

How does a team work best on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis as it moves to accomplish its goals and maintain productivity? Most employees and teams have a natural rhythm in which they collaborate and share relevant information to drive value for their clients.

An organization's and individual team’s operating rhythm allows teams and employees to stay connected. An efficient and sustainable operating rhythm is how they can move faster, deliver holistic results for their clients, and ultimately lead to higher revenue. Yet this important element of success is often overlooked and not given the focus it deserves.

Data from McChrystal Group shows that employees in the financial services sector are 16% less likely than employees in other industries to agree that leaders maintain a predictable work rhythm that allows them to plan how they spend their time and ultimately stave off attrition among their teams.

Poor communication from leadership down through middle management and their teams likely leads to less predictable work rhythms for employees. When compared to other industries, middle managers in finance were 15% less likely to say their organization has established processes to disseminate best practices and articulate the status of organizational objectives, leading to decreased productivity and a lack of organizational awareness that results in missed opportunities.

Drawn from field interviews and survey responses from thousands of workers from more than a hundred organizations across several industries, McChrystal Group’s database collected over the last decade presents a framework to underscore actionable insights, allowing leaders to engage their teams with intention and precision.

Why It Matters

Predictable work rhythms may seem impossible to find in fast-paced financial services environments, particularly with client-facing or trading functions, but being able to have team members effectively share information about the same client or connect dots in real time as markets shift is invaluable.

It can be easy for teams to fall into a convenient — yet suboptimal — rhythm. Leaders must keep a pulse on their team’s operating rhythm and routinely fine-tune the cadence to match the speed of the market and environment, making sure that everyone, regardless of where they work, stays connected and receives the essential information they need when they need it.

Key factors play into a predictable work rhythm that leaders must take into consideration, such as shared situational awareness, timely information sharing, and laying the groundwork for collaboration to exist.

Without an intentional operating rhythm that suits your team, customer experience will suffer and market opportunity will be missed as team members will spend extra unnecessary time seeking out what they need to accomplish everyday tasks. If existing meetings aren’t productive and space for asking questions isn’t provided, leaders should think about reconfiguring those meetings and ensuring the right team members are present.

This is especially important as hybrid and remote work have become more pervasive. Managers worry about what productivity might be lost as more employees work from home, yet employees who see performance and returns near all-time highs feel that no productivity was lost. A cadence and rhythm can help bridge this gap as organizations and individual teams still search for the right balance.

Both acknowledging and understanding productivity patterns can also help leaders and their teams anticipate and combat recurring slumps, regardless of whether they have full control over their work schedules.

How We’ve Worked With Clients to Address These Challenges

McChrystal Group partnered with a leading financial services provider to help leaders better understand and evaluate how their behaviors impacted the culture and workflow of their teams.

The organization was struggling with increased market competition and changing customer needs while having to address structural and behavioral barriers within the organization that was inhibiting collaboration and effective information sharing.

Relevant and key information possessed by top-level leaders needed to be leveraged in order for financial advisors to deliver holistic investing and banking solutions to their clients, yet a lack of faith in the teams of the larger enterprise existed, inhibiting this behavior.

With more than 500 leaders participating in different forms of leader development focused on changing behaviors, trust was instilled among teams leading to increased collaboration and eventually resulting in a cultural shift.

A people-first strategy was specifically designed and implemented for the organization, consisting of a mentoring program, team-building initiatives, and career development programs across all levels. Following the first year of the strategies being implemented throughout the organization, 82% of those surveyed said the initiative had a positive effect on collaboration across teams.

By establishing a tailored communications flow for different teams throughout the organization, it allowed for transparent discussions around internal processes and work rhythms. This new approach gave the organization's teams the trust necessary to leverage the resources of the larger enterprise teams and support growth and client experience delivery.

Through targeted leadership training and a focus on improved and timelier communications, leadership saw lower attrition and higher morale at the organization.

Work rhythms are directly tied to a sense of engagement, and as a result, retention. Attrition and turnover in the financial services sector have accelerated in recent years, requiring the attention and focus of leaders.

Without connecting an organization through collaboration and information sharing, engagement and motivation will lag. If your team or an individual employee isn't engaged, leaders may notice that they withdraw from the team and colleagues, their quality of work declines, they lack enthusiasm for their work, or they begin to check out of conversations.

This is the latest in a multi-part series of industry insights utilizing McChrystal Group’s proprietary data to highlight industry specific insights and strategies leaders can adopt to address them.

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