Adversity can come in many forms, sneaking in slowly but then spiraling out of control. How many times have you described a sales slump just like that? I certainly have had my share of slumps during my nearly three-decade career. However, I think it’s important to look inside the problem to keep the adversity in perspective.
First, we have to look at the root cause of any adversity. This may seem easy, but almost always the obvious cause is not the real cause. You have to look deeper than just looking at the obvious. Key performance indicators (KPIs) are a great place to start, but even KPIs might not show the heart of the problem. You have to ask yourself, “Why is this KPI looking like this? What might I unknowingly be doing that creates these results?”
As I frequently suggest, behavior change is not only difficult but also at times painfully slow. Recognizing the problem early is critical to lessening the effects of poor performance. But stopping the patterns of behavior that are causing the problem is only one part.
Once you have determined the cause of the adversity, you then have to keep that adversity in perspective. Recently, I measured our performance against different industry benchmarks in several distribution channels. Even though our activity and effectiveness were not up to our normal KPIs, I found our sales numbers were much better than industry averages. Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t need to change, but the numbers do help me keep our current activity in perspective. And it helps me provide information to my sales team that keeps them energized. When our competition is suffering, that is the time to capture market share, not say, “Everyone is affected, so we are just fine.” We still have to focus on the root cause of adversity to deal with it.
At the end of the day, adversity provides an opportunity for improvement. But it’s important not to correct the same problem time after time. Each cycle of adversity generally creates unintended and unexpected consequences for our actions. Look at adversity as a chance to improve. When you do, adversity doesn’t seem as bad and can even be a sign of healthy growing pains.
Don’t hang your head during adversity. Look at adversity as a learning tool. Identify the root cause and work on correcting it; but, keep the adversity in perspective to your overall business. Make sure you don’t overcorrect but use adversity as an opportunity to grow through change.
About the Author
Mike McGlothlin is a tireless advocate for the retirement planning industry. As executive vice president of annuities at Ash Brokerage, he heads a team providing income planning solutions focused on longevity and efficiency. He’s also a thought leader who provides guidance and assistance for advisors and broker-dealers navigating marketplace and regulatory changes. You can find a collection of his blog posts in his book, “Above the Clouds … Winning Strategies from 30,000 Feet.”
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