The Key to Managing Feedback? Own It.

Mar 12, 2019

I thrive on feedback. I recently gave a presentation in Northern California in front of a group of financial advisors. Once the presentation was complete, I spent time catching up with members in the audience – and received some of the most direct feedback I’ve ever received: “Great job today, but my advice to you is to not get comfortable; you’ve got a lot of room to grow.”

I didn’t know if I should thank him or just smile because I was confused. I certainly want to grow and value the bumps and bruises that come from growing – but that feedback was a little jarring. But while it was raw and direct, it also made me think: would another speaker or co-worker be that blunt with their feedback?

Which leads me to a question for younger financial advisors: How do you process feedback from your peers, your manager, and your clients?

Taking it all in

When it comes to peers, there are certainly different levels of feedback. My peers will often share kind words on my accomplishments, based on what they read or heard. Rarely is the positive feedback a result of actually seeing the body of work be constructed.

For example, how many times have we lauded an associate advisor or external wholesaler for meeting their annual sales quota for the calendar year, without fully knowing the journey associated with obtaining their sales quota? The difference in feedback looks like this – “I see you working hard” vs. “Congrats on hitting your quota.”

Feedback from your senior advisor or managing director can conversely be hit or miss. You may work with an individual who manages with tough love – they provide adequate coaching and development in your career, but will come down hard when things aren’t going as well as planned. In this situation, the feedback is coming or *should* be coming, whether you like it or not. What’s important is what you do with the feedback.

In terms of client feedback, I think we’ve all seen (or used) email signatures that end with “The best compliment you can give is a referral,” which makes sense and is also efficient marketing (in my opinion). While the referral is the ultimate goal, I’d be extremely curious to see what the actual compliment looks like:

  • What about my services makes me a worthwhile advisor?
  • How have my services helped you reach your goals?
  • Do you feel like a client or do you feel like a friend?

What your clients say (or write) about you is a direct reflection of you and the value you bring to them. Feedback isn’t going to always be positive, but how you manage through that experience is likely where the referral opportunity lies.

One of my mentors gave me some amazing advice a couple of years ago: “Knowing how will get you in the door, but actually doing it will help you grow.”

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