Recruiting the right people

Recruiting good talent is a challenge. But even the brightest new hires can falter if left to their own devices.

Getting your advisors to move from clock watchers to performers was the theme of Jason Herrington’s LAMP 2016 talk, Moving Your Advisors to Breakthrough Performance. Herrington, Managing Director of Securian Financial Group, described how solid coaching and the proper environment can get your rookie advisors to fulfill the promise you saw when you hired them.

Of course, many agencies already have tools and techniques in place to inspire agents. But it’s important, Herrington said, to not apply them unthinkingly. “How many of you have vision boards?” he asked the crowd. “I know many of you do and you’ll have a vacation home over here and a Porsche down there. And with these kids that’s just not going to work. Many of these kids, they’re driving Hondas.”

And while most seasoned veterans in the industry understand the importance of thinking strategically and setting long-term goals, for many new hires multiyear plans are too big comprehend. “They can’t think five years out,” Herrington said. “Some of them are still wondering if they even will be here at the end of the year.”

The challenge, he explained, is getting your new hires to buy into the passion of success. Once you do, you can move them beyond short term thinking and then give them the tools they need to make their dreams a reality. “You have to help the advisors understand the passion variable,” he said.

The problem is many agents only experience what Herrington called episodic urgency. It happens, he said, when the advisors are afraid of not getting paid at the end of the month. All of a sudden they become motivated. What they need to develop, he said, is a continuous sense of urgency and a feeling they are moving towards a larger goal. “A vision gives them the energy they need to not put stake in the ground and be satisfied where they are,” Herrington said and that vision, he explained, works in a few different ways.

“First, they will be discouraged,” he said. “There are going to be times when they’ll want to give up. We have to help them understand they can live their dreams. So when that happens they will need a powerful reason to keep going. Giving them a vision helps them aligns their personal aspirations with their professional goals.”

In addition to giving them a vision, Herrington said, you have to coach new advisors on how to think strategically. “Many times advisors’ focus is too long,” Herrington said. “They get paralyzed by the difficulty of things and lose site of the goal. They look at difficulty of the task instead of the goal. Also, they’re unable to control the noise and they want to do stuff that has no business goal.”

To develop the ability to think strategically, Herrington recommends an exercise that requires only a cardboard box. The idea is simple; you gather the advisors together, hand them the box, and ask them to build a business around it. While the results can be a little out there—one team came up with a business that sold mail order breakdancing floors—Herrington said the results do translate. “Then, you can take that same thinking, pick a production topic, and have them apply the same techniques,” he said. “You will be amazed at results.”

Of course, all of the coaching and training in the world is pointless if it doesn’t produce results. And keeping score is really the only way to ensure that new advisors are progressing. “Scorekeeping helps you confront the truth,” he said. “Scorekeeping is the reality check and it allows you to pinpoint breakdowns and respond to them quickly. You have to have some system in place to pinpoint the breakdowns.”

And when you begin scoring you come full circle to recruiting. Because if you haven’t chosen quality recruits, all the coaching and strategic exercises in the world will be wasted. “Scorekeeping is not for the faint of heart,” Herrington said. “You need to be recruiting people who are tough and who can handle being challenged and being coached when you’re keeping score.”

“Execution is about the ownership of your actions and your advisors have to know that and have the character to make goals and follow through. They have to know that they have the freedom to choose success and that the distance between where they are and where they want to be is a short but difficult step.”

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