Jasnik Parmar is the co-founder and president of Entry Point Advisor Network, a leading provider of life, annuity and RIA solutions for financial advisors. Jasnik is also the co-founder of three of Entry Point Advisor Network’s member firms, and the Chief Financial Officer of LawnGuru, the leading on-demand lawn care and snow removal mobile application. Follow him @jasnikparmar.
Recently, YEC spoke with Jasnik about his employee management and company culture experience. His best advice is below.
What interview question do you always ask potential hires and why?
“Tell me about a time you navigated a conflict between your values or ethics and what you were asked to do?”
We feel we have a special duty to help our advisors and agents become independent fiduciaries, and we rely on our unwavering principles and our gut to guide decisions every day.
In an industry rich in conflicts of interest, we want people who have had to face this type of challenge and made the right call. We don’t lead them to the answer; anyone who has read our websites knows where we stand. We know we’ve found a qualified candidate when they’ve done what we would have done, even if they left something on the table. You can’t teach values and we want people who make decisions in a framework that is consistent with our own.
What makes your company culture unique?
While we aren’t structurally flat, we act as if we are when we’re getting work done.
I don’t have experience with a large company’s culture, but many people’s brilliant ideas are often unspoken because they don’t have the clear opportunity to contribute. When we work on anything as a team, we expect everyone to contribute without restriction. It’s a tough responsibility at first, even awkward, but over time it becomes natural for each of us to share the weaknesses or low-hanging fruit we see.
Internally we’ve come to call this “wrestling” and at times it slows us down, but we’ve consistently found it’s the best recipe for refreshing results. If a project is under a looming deadline, we’ll declare it a wrestling-free zone once we agree on the broad strokes.
How can you make sure team outings or activities appeal as best they can to all employees?
We let the team come up with most of the outings or activities we do each quarter. We’ve built a “new idea or improvement” flow into our processes and use it as the chassis for settling what we’re going to do, when we’re doing it and where we’ll be.
The exercise is also an intuitive way to train our newest people in how we think: managing geography, a budget, time constraints and the wants of our customers.
What’s your best tip for keeping a personal touch to onboarding and training as you grow?
Our businesses are incredibly intertwined, which is unlike many of our competitors’ more siloed approach. For new hires, from the industry or not, this can be really disorienting, which cost us a lot in the beginning.
After recognizing the problem, we pulled the team together to solve the mystery and a brave soul shared what a “sponsor” could do for a new hire, as they do in anonymous programs. We LOVED the idea and saw it as the glue we needed to connect our breadth on paper with the fast-paced experience of our office. Today, every new hire has a sponsor waiting for them on day one as their point person for all questions, problems, comments or suggestions that don’t fit in a clear box.
We also make sure to point out this weakness to new hires before they get here and have absolutely appreciated the cushion their understanding provides.
What’s one quick, easy way any company at any stage can invest in their company culture?
Take the time to invest in creating a foundational document, a constitution if you will, that briefly lays out clear expectations for work and results while also fostering an understanding of how the company would like to approach problems and opportunities.
When we knew we had to address new-hire turnover, we turned to the internet and came across amazing inspiration: Netflix, HubSpot, Valve and more. Using these and imagining a day where leadership here had advanced by a generation, we were able to quickly zero in on what had to be carved into our bedrock.