The firms we work with are busier than ever right now, and aren’t showing any signs of slowing down. This is a critical time for financial planning firms to continue the momentum, so you want to ensure you are getting the most out of your team to capitalize on the opportunities that are ahead of you.
You have probably had some team members step up over the last year to tackle the new challenges your firm faced, but what about the others in your organization who might not have stepped up the way you wanted them to?
Here are some ideas for you to consider when helping your team members who might need a little nudging to realize their full potential.
Reiterate your confidence in them - Sometimes a word of encouragement is all it takes to ignite (or reignite) the spark. Earlier in my career, I was asked to put together a PowerPoint presentation on college planning for one of the senior planners to deliver to a group of prospective clients, and part of the project was then to do a practice run for my boss. Even though it was sixteen years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday when they said, ‘You are really good at that and you should be presenting more.’ Up to that point, I had never considered myself a very good presenter, and instead a very nervous and unconfident public speaker. They saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself, which is what good leaders do.
Design a safe place for them to fail - Failing is part of learning and growing. After a few months into my financial planning career, I remember going to one of my bosses and stating something like, ‘I want to run the client meetings’ which, at that time, I thought was the fun and easy stuff in financial planning. Because people seemed to be gone all of the time, and showed up at the last minute and didn’t have to do the “hard work” of preparing meeting materials. One of my bosses chuckled, but obliged my request and gave me several agenda items for an upcoming meeting, and told me to run point. When I ultimately started floundering, they were right there to help prop me back up, we didn’t lose the client, and it was a valuable lesson for me that I wasn’t quite ready and had several things to work on. Looking back, this was a much more powerful motivator than my boss telling me I wasn’t ready without experiencing falling flat firsthand.
Invest in training resources - Some firms are now asking their financial planner client relationship managers to start bringing in clients, which was not a part of their job when they started with the firm. This is causing some of them to leave for positions at other firms that don’t require client acquisition activities. However, the ones who remain and want to take up the challenge are often still ill-equipped to succeed in the new functions of their position, because the mindset from management is ‘they are experienced and should know how to do that.’ Consider investing in resources like digital marketing, sales, and communication training to help your people build out skills you are now requiring that they have limited exposure to. In addition to this, make sure you work on the personal experience, as well, by ensuring your team members have seen you go through your process of bringing on a new client at least a handful of times so they have a place to start from.
Invest in mentoring - I believe in taking initiative in your own personal and professional development, but sometimes you need a little more to help you see things differently and to hold you accountable. As a new planner, I wasn’t doing well in the business development area (not my primary job at that point though), but after a few years of seeing several very successful people connect with prospective clients, ask the right questions at the right times, frame an intangible service offering, and respond to potential objections, it became much more clear to me. I took bits and pieces of what I saw, plus added a few things to formulate my own style. As more firms continue to move from the siloed organizational structure to an ensemble model, this mentoring and resource availability and sharing is becoming more integrated into firm cultures.
We hope these will be helpful in preparing your team for delivering massive results when you need them to do anything from taking on a big project, working on a new client situation, and/or moving into a more senior role. Remember, too, that effective leaders look inward first if they are not achieving the results they are striving for versus defaulting to it is always someone else.
Contact us if you would like to ensure everyone on your team is the right fit for your team, in the correct role based on their personality and preferred work styles, and aligned with your mission and vision.
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