“I feel that a great coach is one that has a vision, sets a plan in place, has the right people in place to execute that plan and then accepts the responsibility if that plan is not carried out.” ~ Mike Singletary
Whether you are managing a team of sales and client service professionals, or portfolio managers and research analysts, there are three key principles to successful coaching.
Preparation is vital to achieving a coaching program that will have a significant impact. You need to define and align coaching priorities with your overall strategic marketing plan, your firm’s internal and external communication needs, as well as with objectives for each individual. You want to involve the participants in identifying knowledge gaps, areas of focus, as well as what would enhance their results. Management input in defining the program priorities and promotion of coaching initiatives are essential. Management needs to communicate the objectives of the coaching initiative. For example, to:
- Achieve greater consistency across all participants in presentations and with responses to questions
- Advance more professionals to participate in presentations
- Increase win ratio
- Enhance client retention
In addition, participants’ accountabilities need to be clear and measured.
2. Multi-Dimensional Training Platform
Individuals learn in different ways. Studies have shown that people absorb information by reading, hearing and/or observing. Active participation increases understanding. Repetition also contributes to successful learning. In the investment industry, training tools developed for a coaching program must be easy to access and flexible to accommodate the diverse demands of people on the go. For those reasons, a multi-dimensional training platform is optimal. Involvement of your investment professionals, product specialists and client portfolio managers helps to ensure the key messages are well articulated, presentations of investment philosophy and process are accurate and current, and issues and answers are authentic, brief and clear.
What do we mean by a multi-dimensional training platform? First, we recommend systems-based technologies to deliver information that can be read, heard and/or observed at the participants’ convenience – from the office, at home or while traveling. We recommend a library of content and tools, including:
- Summary of key messages for the firm overall and for focus investment strategies and solutions
- Best-of-class presentation books
- Presentation talk points
- Responses to common questions and tough issues
- Videos of your strongest presenters giving the firm overview and strategy presentations, including responses to tough questions
The multi-dimensional training platform enables your professionals to access information in a format that suits their learning styles, needs and schedules.
Second, we suggest regularly scheduled coaching sessions and presentation rehearsals where participants can practice presentations and responses to questions in a safe, objective environment. Coaches or experienced professionals who understand the institutional investment industry and the attributes of successful presentations need to work with your professionals to improve their content and delivery skills. Objective, constructive feedback and suggestions for improvement are an important part of the process. Videotape the presentation role-plays and the debrief discussions. Give participants copies of the videos to review, and they will see firsthand where they need to improve. Giving participants three priorities to address after each coaching session will help them go further faster. Overwhelming people with too many changes at once is a recipe for failure.
Repetition is important. For enhancing presentation skills and breaking negative habits, we recommend multiple sessions with specific objectives and agendas relevant to the participants. Measure progress. Once a level of proficiency and expertise has been achieved, have the participants present to management and peers. If a participant excels, the coaching process can then be deemed complete. Or the group can recommend further coaching.
Periodic rehearsals are beneficial to ensure that participants preserve their improved communication and presentation skills, and do not regress. If a participant’s communication skills deteriorate, one or more refresher coaching sessions may be needed. In addition, planning and initiating a feedback loop will allow you to develop an optimal coaching platform that will stand the test of time.
3. Management Reinforcement
Management’s active role in the preparation and implementation of a coaching program enhances results. A coaching program serves as an excellent platform to convey and reinforce the firm’s communication standards, marketing plan and key messages. The program can be a strong team building forum as well. Progress reports to management convey the importance of the program and its objectives. When management participates in reviewing what a professional has achieved, there is a sense of accomplishment and recognition.
A common attribute shared by many leading asset management firms with the highest win ratios and client retention rates, is an ongoing commitment to the professional development of their teams. For some, professional communication coaching is a perk offered to attract and retain their professionals.
Charnley & Røstvold, Inc., a preeminent marketing consulting firm to asset management firms ranging in size from start-up firms to some of the world’s largest investment firms with over $1 trillion under management. Charnley & Røstvold helps clients with competitive positioning, marketing strategies, key messages, presentation refinements, communications and sales training, consultant relations and client service programs.
Christine Røstvold, co-founder of Charnley & Røstvold, Inc., is a popular industry speaker and author. Christine was a founding board member of PAICR (Professional Association for Investment Communications Resources), and served on the Advisory Board for more than a decade.