Considering a Management Role — Four Recruiting Steps

Top-performing producers often consider going into management and wonder how their duties would be different in a management role than they are in their role as an agent or advisor.

If your management team has asked you to consider becoming a manager, congratulations! It’s a compliment to you that you are being considered. It means that others within your company and firm appreciate what you are doing, and they recognize that you have a lot of potential.

However, a role in management is not a good fit for everyone. Just as great athletes don’t always make great coaches, top producers don’t always become effective managers. The different roles require different skill sets. Let’s look at the expectations that people would have of you in a management role. This will help you determine if you might enjoy and excel at these responsibilities and tasks.

The most important role of a manager is the recruitment and development of new associates. Recruiting, just like prospecting for clients, is a numbers game. Having a clear and focused profile of the ideal prospect will make your job much easier and more rewarding. The biggest difference is that, instead of prospecting for someone to sell to, you are prospecting for individuals who meet your basic profile standards, are open to making a career change and will recognize the opportunities that your firm offers to financial professionals.

Let’s look at the four key steps in the recruiting process.

1. Sourcing

Every organization is different, so it’s important for you to have a clear and concise understanding of exactly how your firm finds its potential candidates and to understand your firm’s candidate profile. To do this, meet with the firm’s leadership and get their insights into the sourcing process. Also, if there are others in your organization who have the same role and responsibilities of the job you are considering, take the time to have an open discussion about what is and is not working in their efforts to consistently find enough high-quality candidates. Understand that there is not only one source to find qualified candidates. Also, each source must be developed. Think about target marketing in your personal practice; it takes time to understand the various markets and to become recognized as a resource in them. This is true about developing each of your potential recruiting sources.

2. Finding

Next, during the finding stage, it is all about engaging with potential candidates you have discovered from your various sources to get them to consider the opportunity you have. The finding stage is where you contact candidates and sell them on your opportunity to achieve some level of engagement. Remember, opportunities are found in relationships. So consistent contact with candidates will probably be required to build a level of relationship before they are willing to meet with you. Patience, determination and persistence will be needed. Just as in selling, referrals are always the best source in finding candidates, followed by personal observation. Some firms hire primarily on college campuses, and some focus on hiring former student-athletes. Other firms advertise internship programs in local colleges and universities and hire promising interns to see how well they perform with on-the-job training, shadowing established producers. Others recruit career changers and do a great deal of recruiting on social media sites such as LinkedIn.

3. Selecting

The third step is to use a selection process to select the best candidates and eliminate those who are not ideal candidates, which probably will be the majority of them. If you have only two potential candidates, then a selection process won’t work effectively. Think about it this way: if you are choosing players for your sport team and you have only a couple to pick from, what are the odds that one or both of them have exactly what you are looking for? Are you going to settle and forget about the standards or skills you really want?

The selection process is where you will discover the candidates who meet the standards that are clearly defined in your candidate profile. The more specific those standards are, and the more you hold each potential candidate to them, the better your chances are of building the team you want while achieving high potential and high retention. Some firms will have a ratio of 50 to 1: 50 initially interested candidates but only 1 recruit hired.

Selection is a critical but sometimes frustrating process. You spend a lot of time and energy identifying, communicating with and interviewing candidates, only to eliminate many of them as potential associates. Do you think you would enjoy that process, or would it drain you?

Here is a helpful strategy that can help you determine the likelihood that a candidate will be one of those you hire. Ask yourself three fundamental questions about every candidate you interview:

1.      Would I trust this person with my money?

2.     Would I be proud to introduce this candidate to the president of the company as a member of my team?

3.     Would I be proud to introduce this person to my family as my peer or as someone I have invited to be on my team?

If you answer no to any of these three questions, then you should not pursue the candidate any longer. You will probably know the answer to these questions almost immediately. Never compromise your standards, even if you are behind on a sales or recruiting goal!

4. Building momentum

Once candidates make it through the selection process, then you must get them off to a fast start. This is the momentum-building stage, which is the final phase of the recruiting process. This is where the rubber hits the road. Yes, the candidate looks good, sounds good and can learn concepts and memorize scripts well. Plus, the company has approved him or her for a contract. But can that person build relationships and sell? Does he or she have the internal drive needed to do things that are hard and uncomfortable?  Is the candidate willing and able to do the most important tasks of prospecting, making appointments and fact-finding?

In most top-performing firms, potential recruits must successfully complete, without compromise, a pre-hire process, which allows them to see what the job is really like, in real conditions. This helps determine if they are likely to be able to produce enough business to maintain their standard of living — before they come on board.

During this process, you will likely be working very closely with new agents or advisors. Is this something you are likely to enjoy? This activity energizes some people, while it drains others. If you are not energized by the idea, that might be telling you to stay where you are.

During the pre-contract process, you will be expected to teach and demonstrate transferable systems, such as the selling process, marketing and referral system and other processes. If you would prefer to follow your own system, consistently changing it with each new recruit, you probably are not a good candidate for management. If you are willing to follow the established systems and get energized by teaching them repeatedly to multiple new candidates, while finding satisfaction as they finally comprehend it and achieve success, then this could be the right path for you. This is one of the non-negotiable steps to building a successful sales team as a manager.

Finally, do you take shortcuts in your practice? The four steps outlined here are all critical in building a team and must be done without compromise and shortcuts. High turnover leads to frustration and often failure. The root cause of high turnover is often that a management team took the road of least resistance in their recruiting, selection, and momentum-building stages.

As you think about whether or not to leave your clientele to become a manager, write down your most and least favorite aspects of your job as an agent or advisor. Now write down the different aspects of management that you might dislike the most and enjoy the most. Compare the lists. How likely do you think you are to enjoy developing other producers, as opposed to building your own clientele and practice?

You will benefit everyone involved if you think about this potential transition carefully before making any change.