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Closing Performance Gaps

In it's basic form, improvement is the process by which we close performance gaps in order to achieve desired results. The "what" to be improved is performance. Improvement is a performance issue, not a results issue.

Montreal: In a recent discussion with Carol, the leader and Rainmaker of a successful wealth management team, I sensed that she was skirting around the issue of Rainmaking activities. I finally asked, "How are you doing with your goal of keeping at least $40 million active in your pipeline?" Carol paused, and then said, "To be honest, our pipeline is getting a bit stale."

Carol is an effective Rainmaker when she puts her mind and effort to it, so a simple, "You need to do something about that," might have been sufficient. But I sensed that more was needed. When I asked what she was doing to keep her pipeline full, she admitted putting more effort into getting the team's junior advisor to prospect than in prospecting herself. It became clear that while developing her junior advisor was important, the results were not acceptable. Improvement was needed. The question was: Improve what?

In it's basic form, improvement is the process by which we close performance gaps in order to achieve desired results. The "what" to be improved is performance. Improvement is a performance issue, not a results issue. For Carol, her "stale pipeline" was only the symptom, the red flag that announced the need to improve prospecting performance. Later, I'll tell you exactly what Carol did. But first, I want to go back to the last two issues of Practice Management and apply the Closing The Performance Gap principle to team and individual performance reviews.

Identify The Critical Performance Factors

Determining the results you want to achieve is the easy part. The challenge lies in identifying the performance factors that link to and produce those results. Unless you identify those factors and define how they are linked to results, there can be no improvement. That's why you conduct performance reviews at two levels.

At the macro level are Team Performance Reviews that focus on what your team is doing to retain and upgrade existing clients, and to attract new clients. In the April 20 issue we identified 10 Performance Factors that work together to produce those results. Though not a complete list, it's the right place to begin. To expand that list, explore each of the key processes that drive your team ...

  • Business Development Process
  • Financial Advisory Process
  • Practice Management Process
  • Client Loyalty Process

At the micro level are the Individual Performance Reviews we discussed in the last issue. Each team member has both general team responsibilities and specific team role responsibilities that also relate to the Business Development, Financial Advisory, Practice Management, and Client Loyalty processes. The better you link responsibilities to these processes and your desired result, the more clearly you will see where performance improvement is needed -- and the impact that improvement will have.

Don't overlook the fact that everything is interrelated. Carol's example is a simple one, but it illustrates this fact. Carol's Rainmaker prospecting performance is vital to keeping the pipeline full, but so is equipping their junior advisor to play a significant role in their Business Development Process. Closing the team's pipeline performance gap depends on addressing both dimensions.

Define The Results You Want

Because you perform to achieve specific results, make certain you define those desired results.

  • Identify the results you are getting right now. Carol's team had $32 million in the pipeline.
  • Project out into the future and define the results you want to achieve -- and when you want those results to be "in place." Carol wanted to get back to consistently having $40 million in the pipeline, and decided to set 60 days as her target.

Define The Performance Gap

To achieve those desired results, you must define and then take action to close the performance gap between your current activities and the activities required to achieve those results.

Current Activities

Make a list of the specific activities you are performing to achieve your current results. For each activity, include when it is performed. Some will be time related: daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly. Others may be performed when something occurs. You should be able to look at your list and say, "This is a complete and accurate list of what we are currently doing in this area."

Required Activities

Next, make a list of the specific activities you will need to be performing by the target date you want your desired results to be "in place." That list should include ...

  • Activities that you need to continue performing as is.
  • Activities that you need to improve, and what that improvement needs to be.
  • Activities that you need to be doing that you aren't doing now.

You may also find it beneficial to identify activities that you need to stop doing so they don't interfere with your efforts to improve.

Your Critical Path

The activities you just identified become the Critical Path on your road to performance improvement. That means giving those activities top priority and making certain everything else revolves around them.

Now, back to Carol. After taking a quick mental trip through the above steps, we were able to clearly define the specific Rainmaker prospecting activities that both she and the team junior advisor needed to be consistently doing in order to go from $32 million to at least $40 million in the pipeline, and to do so within 60 days. Their Critical Path now required each of them to engage in one specific Rainmaker prospecting activity each day.

My last conversation with Carol was about 40 days later. They had not achieved $40 million as yet, but they were improving. Each was consistently staying on their Critical Path, and the results were growing. So was their confidence and enthusiasm. Experiencing improvement does that to you. As C.R. Lawton put it, "Unless you try to do something beyond what you have mastered, you will never grow."

The biggest room in your office needs to be the room for improvement. To help you close the performance gap and deal effectively with problems you encounter along the way, we have created a Gap Analysis & Problem Solving Techniques Guide. To download, go to:

If you have any topic or special requests, please contact Rich Santos, publisher of Registered Rep. and Trust & Estates magazines, at [email protected].
TAGS: News Research
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