For years I would send a reminder out to advisors at the end of every quarter: “Don’t forget to schedule professional development reviews with your team members.”
I would usually get one of two responses: “Thank you! I completely forgot. We’re so busy we barely have time” or “I dread these meetings because I end up doing most of the talking and no one ever comes prepared.”
The truth is the industry has put a lot of pressure on advisors to lead the professional development efforts of their firms. In addition to being expert practitioners and business owners, we also expect advisors to be master coaches and HR managers. To have success developing team members (and thus retaining talent!), advisors should cultivate a culture of self-development and accountability by empowering team members to own their own development pathways.
To do this effectively, teams should:
- Set a cadence for holding professional development discussions and preschedule those meetings into the firm calendar. Semiannually or quarterly works best.
- Set expectations that professional development meetings are an opportunity for team members to showcase their wins and achievements, reflect on reasons why they perhaps did not achieve their objectives and goals, articulate what resources or support they need in the upcoming quarter, and share their personal and professional goals for the future.
The advisor’s role in the meeting should be to listen and provide feedback. Post-meeting the advisor should deploy needed resources to the team member and use what they have learned about the team member to align incentives to their personal goals. Additionally, the advisor should make note of the team members’ critical and strategic thinking skills in each meeting. The growth that the team member display, should inform the way advisors make decisions about promotions and incentives.
- Use a simple template to organize and streamline professional development conversations. The templates should reflect the items listed above and include a space for team members to:
- Memorialize their annual objectives and key results at the beginning of the year.
- Document progress toward achieving them, including both wins and “losses.”
- Document what resources or support they need from leadership or the team.
- Share their personal and professional goals for the next quarter, year and five years.
These slight changes will not only make professional development meetings more effective for both team members and leaders, but they will also provide an opportunity for team members to develop and work on their strategic thinking and leadership skills. The more empowered team members are, the stronger their critical thinking skills are, the happier and more successful they will be.
Penny Phillips is the co-founder and president of Journey Strategic Wealth.