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The Accountability Challenge - Holding Advisors and Agents to High Expectations and Great Results 4/16/2009
You already know that one key to make any kind of training stick is accountability. There are 2 types of accountability; internal (from within the individual) and external (from outside the individual). Everyone has some ability to tap into their internal accountability. It's been my observation that only a few rare birds have a very high degree of internal accountability. Earlier this week I was talking to a financial professional who had recently purchased our new self-study program "Boot Camp in a Box." In just 3 weeks, he had generated more referrals than in his previous 6 months. David has a very high level of internal accountability. He wanted to change. He learned some proven ideas and then implemented them without anyone having to hold his hand or push him through the process. Don't you wish that every financial professional in your firm was like David? He invested his own money in himself and then produced results.
Since most financial professionals are only human, their extreme success often depends on a well-placed dose of external accountability; from time to time. This, of course, is where you can enter the picture - if you're willing and if your reps are willing to let you in.
Only Coach the Coachable
Not all of your people are coachable. The problem is, they don't often know it. They "yes, but" you to death, but don't even recognize their own behavior. With rookies, you can tell them to do just about whatever you want. Veterans have to let you in first. They have to be open to coaching or it just won't work. Ask them, "Would you like to see if I can help you with this?" If they say yes, and then later "yes, but" you, you have their original agreement to fall back on. "You said you were willing to accept my help, but you don't seem to be open to my suggestions. Tell me your perspective." Bottom line, if someone is not coachable, back off and hope they find the internal accountability to make the changes they need to make. Don't waste your time and energy trying to coach the un-coachable.
Sometimes "The Carrot" is Enough
There are two basic catalysts to change - pain/fear/the stick and pleasure/reward/the carrot. Some people will be moved to change behavior based on their vision and desire for more success. Their vision will pull them forward through their new behaviors. The more clear the vision the more powerful of a magnet it can become. The more the person is excited (emotionally invested) in the vision, the more likely he/she will take the necessary action and move through the roadblocks that always seem to pop up.
One strategy I've learned over the years is to get as clear as possible on the goal I'm trying to achieve and/or the behavior I'm trying to change. A wise person once said to me, "Clear intentions produce clear results. Vague intentions produce vague results." When I have a vision for a certain area of success in my life, I first make a list of all the qualities of what this success would look like. I take all those qualities and put them into paragraph form. Here's a portion of one of my goals - notice it is written in the present tense - as if it's already happened. And, it's all positive. I spend no time on what I don't want; only time and energy on what I do want.
I urge you to try this with your own goals and then help some of your reps do this with theirs. Read this paragraph everyday with some energy behind it. You'll be amazed at how you begin to make different choices that bring you closer to your goal on a daily basis.
Sometimes You Need "The Stick"
While having a clear vision is always a good thing, it's not always enough - especially when it comes to adopting new habits that have fear associated with them (like asking for
referrals). They need the possibility of some "future pain" to motivate them to new action. If having a clear vision of more money or a better lifestyle were enough of a motivating factor, all your advisors/agents would be doing everything they need to be wildly successful. Heck, you might even be out of a job. The truth is, more people are motivated by fear or pain than the possibility of reward. The Stick is still very helpful, even when The Carrot is a big one.
One thing you can do to help your reps rise to a new level of success is to find out that their Catalyst of Change is. Is it the carrot or the stick? Or is it both? For me, I need both. I need a clear vision to inspire me. But I often need some external accountability to keep me going - to sustain a high level of progress.
Like many in our industry, I belong to a study group. We meet on a regular basis, and one of our roles is that of accountability. We set goals and are expected to meet them. If we don't, some form of accountability is usually in place. Oftentimes, it's money. For example, I wasn't spending enough time writing (my new book and articles). I set a goal for the number of days I wanted to write over the next month. For each day I didn't fulfill, I paid $250 into the kitty. At the next meeting I wrote a check for $750. Ouch! One of the guys in the group suggested that the penalty "obviously wasn't enough." He was right. The goal isn't to write the check, it's to achieve the goal. So we upped the amount to $500 per day. Now that got my attention. I paid nothing at the next meeting and got some great writing done.
One of my coaching clients wanted this sort of accountability around referrals. He is a graduate of Texas A&M. The Aggies' biggest sports rival is the University of Texas. He set goals for new referral behavior and his accountability was a series of $200 checks made payable to the "University of Texas Athletic Scholarship Fund." Luckily for him, and the Aggies, he didn't send a single check. And, he developed some incredible referral
One more thing... accountability to goals need not be a harsh process. You need to adjust what you do and how you do it to the personalities involved. Sometimes just asking how they did is enough. Sometimes measuring behaviors is enough. In other cases, you need to probe more into their barriers. And in some cases, you need to create a penalty for not performing a certain behavior.