Morgan Stanley
  • Women Without Limits
  • Apr 18, 2022

Building a High Performance

Hosted by Stacie Hoffmeister
Come In, Let's Talk


Rosalie Berman:               00:03                     It's very easy as a manager to give a task to the person who will get it done the fastest, and the easiest and cause the least amount of work for you as a manager. I try not to do that.

Stacie Hoffmeis...:           00:16                     That's Rosalie Berman. She's a Managing Director and Head of Reinvestment here at Morgan Stanley. Rosalie is a master at building diverse, cohesive and high-performing teams. Everyone wants to be in Rosalie's team. I wanted to hear about what it really takes to attract and cultivate the best talent and how building a strong team has helped Rosalie get to where she is today.

                                                                                Coming up, Rosalie reveals key team building insights, like how to offer consistent feedback that's actually helpful, why things need to get personal and what a leader must do in order for her teams and the individuals on them to grow. I can't think of anybody working today who won't benefit from Rosalie's expertise. I'm Stacie Hoffmeister. Welcome back to Come In, Let's Talk.

                                                                                Rosalie, hello. I'm so glad to have this time with you today.

Rosalie Berman:               01:11                     Hi, Stacie. Glad to be here with you.

Stacie Hoffmeis...:           01:15                     So I am super excited about our topic today because I think you are a rockstar when it comes to talent development. You are known to have an A team of players, and they operate generally just way above what their titles would suggest. So would love to know, Rosalie, what's your secret team-building philosophy and how did you put together such a stellar organization?

Rosalie Berman:               01:46                     Well, I appreciate the compliment, but I don't think there's any secret. What I will say is that over the past 21 years at the firm I've tried to build an environment where people enjoy work and they come to be part of something greater than just the team. So as the team has evolved, and obviously I've had people come onto the team and leave the team, and what's most important is that people feel like they're growing. It's an environment where personally and professionally they can get to the next level, and so there's no better compliment than things that you've said or other have said that we'd love to take somebody from the team. It means that I've done my job in developing that person. Some folks you get on the team and you want to keep them forever and you know you can't because after how many years you need to let those folks grow and take on bigger, broader roles, and that's really important.

Stacie Hoffmeis...:           02:42                     We've done a few episodes of this podcast and what I've noticed is that the folks that I've interviewed make their superpower sound really, really easy, like everybody can do this. I don't think it comes naturally for everyone, to be honest, so I want to deep a bit into some specifics. I want to first start with your specific hiring and management practices. So Rosalie, what are you looking for when you bring on someone new?

Rosalie Berman:               03:14                     I would say that every hire that you make is very important, and one particular person coming onto the team can change the whole team dynamics. So you really need to spend time selecting the people that you're going to hire and putting in the time to make sure they're the right fit.

                                                                                So there's some particular characteristics that I'm looking for, one is authenticity. You want people on the team that are themselves, both inside and outside work. During the interview process, you can get a sense for that, but also you have to do your due diligence on who you're hiring. I want people that have passion, they have enthusiasm for their work. I happen to be a very passionate person, I care a lot about the work that we're doing, and we want folks that come on to the team to have that same feeling.

                                                                                I also want people that work well with others because in the end, somebody on the team who may bring some negativity in will change the whole team dynamics. So you got to have people who care about one another, they want to see other people succeed as well, and that's really, really important. I want folks that come in from the start to know that this is a special team and we care about one another and we want to see them grow. They have to see that there's a caring nature and nurture on the team so that they can take themselves to the next level. If you start off like that, it's only going to help you in the end. It's going to help you as a leader. If you have a team that's working well together and cares about one another and there's no competitiveness, that's going to make you shine as a leader when other people see that and see the team dynamic evolve.

Stacie Hoffmeis...:           04:52                     I'd like to double-click on the caring and the creating an environment where people aren't competing with each other. How do you foster an environment where people are working together?

Rosalie Berman:               05:06     I would say that you really need to put in the time with each individual person and make sure they have their own path, and I tell everybody that. I just interviewed someone yesterday and I said, "You come onto this team and I know what your goals are upfront, I know where you're trying to get in the next couple of years and yes, things might shift and evolve and the role that you came into might change a bit. But if we know upfront what you're looking for, and if you come into this team with certain skills and you leave with five or 10 other skills that you didn't have, executive leadership, data analysis, then we've done our job." So if everybody comes in and knows what their path is, and that Rosalie and the other senior members of the team have that in mind, then there is no competitiveness. You want to help promote that and help others because when it's your turn, then everybody else will be happy for you.

                                                                                I invest a lot of time in the people side of things. I know when somebody is having a tough time, I know when someone in their family might be sick, all those little things matter because it's the personal side. And people joke that we celebrate so much, but even if it's bringing in bagels because someone hit their year mark at the firm, just that little extra milestone and celebration really makes a difference for people. I know it has for me over my time here at the firm and so if we can do that for other people, they feel like a bigger part of things and they feel like they can share and they can rely on one another, again, both professionally and personally, which is really, really important because everybody has things going on in their life that you might not know. If you understand that and if the team understands that, then they can be there for one another and help them through those difficult times.

                                                                                Particularly now, Stacie, it's a hard time with people at home, you can't network as much, and so people need the extra time. I've made time on my calendar to have Zoom calls with people because we can't be in person, and I think those have gone a long way for people to feel included and part of the bigger picture.

Stacie Hoffmeis...:           07:10     I want to give an example of people being happy for each other and celebrating each other's milestones. Twice now I've invited someone from your team, who's relatively junior, to speak at a main stage event in front of hundreds of people. The first time went so super well I was like, "I'm going to ask someone else from Rosalie's team to do it again." I remember this was, of course, pre-pandemic, we were all in person, and I remember your whole team came out and sat in the audience in the second row to cheer this person on. Afterwards, you all rushed the stage and were taking selfies of the team. It was really cool to see. I don't see that every day. So that's just an example of the spirit of camaraderie and let's celebrate each other's wins.

Rosalie Berman:               08:02                     One of the things that I think is particularly important, especially at junior levels even, is to get the exposure. People know on my team that if I'm giving a presentation I will look for every way possible to have those people on my team present parts of what I'm supposed to present. I think it gives people an opportunity to show their executive leadership, to show their presentation skills and we will prepare and prepare and prepare, that might be in weekends and nights. I will get on with anybody to make sure that show up on that stage that they're going to give their A game and they're going to be presentable. Because it's that one time, that first time when you get on that main stage and I know the particular situation that you're talking about, where that person practiced a ton, because that was their first time they were going to speak in front of a thousand people. That person happened to nail that presentation but they prepared. They prepared in front of many different people on our team and outside our team to make sure they got the critical feedback. So for me, getting people exposure is really important.

                                                                                I remember early on in my career I was asked to give a presentation that I probably shouldn't have given because I was at a more junior level, and I practiced and practiced and practiced and I happened to do a really good job. That was a career moment for me where someone noticed me and they actually hired me four months later, so all those opportunities are really important. Anyone knows on my team, whenever there's an opportunity, I've actually been called out on it to say, in a positive way, "Wow. You let the AVP or the VP present in that meeting." I was like, "Absolutely. Why not? They can do it and they want to do it." And it means so much to them just like it meant a lot to me when I was given those opportunities. So I'd rather hear less from me and more from the team members, and it's a reflection on you as a leader that you're able to showcase them in those forums.

                                Maybe we'll talk about it later, but one other important thing is getting feedback and allowing people to feel good about getting critical feedback. I am very open and honest, and I'm open and honest about myself. In fact, I had someone on my team say, "That presentation, you actually did it better the week before," and I was like, "Hey, that's pretty good that someone felt comfortable telling me that," because I want them to be open and honest. Every time someone presents on the team, they know they have to get three different people in the audience to give them feedback, and it's critical [inaudible 00:10:23]. It's not, "Oh, tell me what I did great", and ask your best friend how you're doing. It's ask three people before the presentation and say, "What can I have done better? Tell me right after I present." So it's before the event, tell me what I could be doing better. And right after, they call those people and they say, "What could I have done better?" So that person doesn't feel the need to say, "Yes, they can say something positive, but they have to give me three things that I could have done better."

Stacie Hoffmeis...:           10:47                     So Rosalie, it sounds like you're taking ego out of the equation by making critique a regular, almost expected part of the process, especially with a key deliverable like presentations.

Rosalie Berman:               11:03                     I do it with my own self still because everyone can improve. And my team feels that they can be honest with me when I have a better presentation or not. So if they feel comfortable, then they know when I give them that feedback right after they present, they don't feel bad. It's natural. They know that my intention is to make sure that they do a better job next time and they grow as an individual because executive presence is everything. And to your point, people perceive people who can present and do a great job on the main stage is that they have their stuff together. That's going to be important in their careers longer-term

Stacie Hoffmeis...:           11:36                     Giving feedback is one thing, and that's skill, I'd like to ask, are there any techniques that you use? I know that you give the feedback, but in the how you give it. At the same time, being able to receive feedback. It goes both ways, the receiver has to be open to it and receptive of it. It's a big deal and something that we talk about a lot is giving feedback, especially when you have a team that's diverse and not everyone is alike and has the same references or ways of communicating, how do you do that? How do you give critical feedback?

Rosalie Berman:               12:20     I would say perception is reality here. Sometimes it's hard to hear what people perceive because your interpretation of how you did might be very different from that, so you've got to be honest with people. Everybody knows I'm going to be brutally honest and I will say it in a way that obviously isn't going to hurt anyone's feelings. But if they expect it upfront, to say, "After this presentation, I'm going to give you feedback. I'm going to give you three critical things, and we can talk about all the great things that you did, but it's your way of improving." It goes to the point that I said earlier, which is every time you present, get three people in the audience that aren't your best friends upfront to give that critical feedback. You can say everything nice that you want, but give me three things to work on. If you set that up front, those folks are going to get that feedback and right after, it's got to be immediate.

                                                                                Every time someone presents on the team, they expect my call. I call them right up. I actually leave five minutes in between to say, I'm going to have to give feedback. I call them up and I say, "You did this really well. This is where you need to improve." And sometimes it's "You did great. You nailed it," and that's good. But if someone's evolving in their executive presence and their presentation skills, typically there are things that they need to work on. And because I've set that expectation upfront, no one's getting upset, no one's crying when you give feedback or anything like that. They understand that it's for the better and the good of them as an individual to move on. And I expect that in myself as well. I want to hear the critical feedback and they know they can give it to me. So I would say immediate feedback is always good, just right when it's hot.

Stacie Hoffmeis...:           13:55                     I'd love to hear about your thoughts around delegation, networking, any other areas that you think about intentionally as you develop your team.

Rosalie Berman:               14:06                     Let me start with networking because I think it's really important for everyone to have a network, and that network will evolve. You really need to make a concerted effort to do that for yourself. What I tell folks on my team is make a list, make a list of eight to 10 people, and let me help you with that list. And that eight to 10 people should be people that are more senior than you, are peers of you that are inside the team, outside the team, all different types of people.

                                                                                I spend a lot of my time shooting off emails to people where I meet with someone and they're like, "I would love to meet so-and-so, but I don't really know so-and-so." And I was like, "All right, why do you want to meet that person?" Have a purpose. Don't just go and meet with someone for coffee just for the sake meeting because they're going to be like, "What do you want me to do for you?" Have a purpose.

                                I usually help the folks on my team with that list to say, "Okay, why do you want to meet with this person? Okay, let's meet with this person on the team versus this one. Is this one more about you understanding the product or is it more about their leadership skills?" Whatever it may be. And stick to it. So once a month, be setting those up. Because some of these folks are senior and it's going to take you two months to get on their calendar. So everybody should have their own networking and every year you should refresh that networking as you continue to revisit that network to make sure you're staying in contact with people. That should happen throughout your career. It should never end.

                                                                                And if you haven't checked in with people, check in, but make sure that there's a purpose because one day those will be people that are looking for someone on their team and they're going to remember, "Oh, I should call Stacie on that one because I remember she had an interest and I know what her goals are and I know a little bit more about her." So networking is really key.

Stacie Hoffmeis...:           15:46                     I love that part of how you develop your team is to help them lay the groundwork for their next move beyond your team. I mean, it's no wonder they love you. I want to talk about delegation for a moment because I know that's another tool you use to help your team progress both individually and as a unit.

Rosalie Berman:               16:08                     On delegation, I would say what I try to do to help folks grow on the team is it's very easy as a manager to give a task to the person who will get it done the fastest and the easiest, and cause the least amount of work for you as a manager. I try not to do that. The reason why I do that is because it allows the people who may not have those skills to work through it and grow as an individual.

                                                                                So I'll give an example. There's someone on the team that is trying to gain more experience around more of the data and analytics and learning Tableau. I could give it to one of the experts of Tableau on my team, or I could give it to that person so that they can grow and have that other person mentor them along the way. I decided to give it to the person who needs more help in that area and have the other person mentor them along the way because that person in the end, after the project's done, is going to be a better, more critical person on the team because they're going to have those skills. So don't always do from a delegation perspective what's the easiest and always give to the people who get stuff done. You want to raise the bar for those folks who might need it, who might not have those skills so that they develop them in the future.

So delegation is really key. And as you're building out your team, you want to put people in the roles where they excel, and that's great, but when you're putting people onto new projects you want to take a little bit of a risk and let them go outside their comfort zone. It's the only way people will learn and develop.

Stacie Hoffmeis...:           17:34                     I want to ask you a bit about how important diversity is on your team. Tell me a bit about how that plays a role in how you recruit and bring people to the team.

Rosalie Berman:               17:46                     Yeah. It's such an important, important of building a team. You can't just talk about diversity. You have to be a representative of that and you have to show that you have a diverse team. If you look at my team, gender, race, age, all types of diversity is on the team. That's really, really important to me because you need the diversity of thought, and so I'm always looking for diversity on the team in all ways. It's really, really important because that's where... You don't want to hire everybody the same because then you won't have creative thoughts, you won't have new ideas. Somebody said, "Oh, I've hired a bunch of people from this college or university." I even look at that. You want to have diversity on people that have gone to the same schools or even grew up in the same area. All those things matter and we can all learn from one another. So it's really important on a team to have all types of diversity, Black, Hispanic, LGBT, again, age, race, gender, all very important.

Stacie Hoffmeis...:           18:55                     Your team is like a posse. You guys are a family, you have a culture, you've got a way that you relate to each other. For those of us on the outside of it looking at it, it's pretty cool, and would love to hear about how you've been able to leverage this familial vibe on your team to help get through what's been a very challenging year.

Rosalie Berman:               19:22                     Yeah. It's been challenging as a leader as well, I would say, meaning that I love the morning chats, the bagels, the shooting hoops on the little hoop that we have midday, we don't have that, we're missing that, and it's very hard for people, especially people who are trying to network and meet new people and the camaraderie.

                                I have for the first time, I think I've hired now three people I've never met. It's been very difficult. And what we're trying to do is have those little celebrations via Zoom, we've done workout classes together via Zoom, and it's not as good but we try. But I will say, to get that family feel, I think, and it's really important is we all are leaving our families everyday to come into work, and I want people that are happy coming into work. I don't want any negative energy. So I tell everybody, "If you're not feeling great about the job or you hate what you're doing, there is an open door to me. Even if you don't report to me, come tell me, come tell me how you're feeling. If there's something going on in your personal life too, let me know" so that we can help get that person through it. Because one negative person can change the entire vibe of the team. That goes to the personal level again, Stacie, is just knowing people and investing in people.

                                                                                I had someone call me the other weekend because they were worried about should they pay rent in the city and with everything going on with COVID should they move out? I was available on a Saturday morning, they know to call me, and I will make time because it's important and it will help how they come in in the morning. If they're struggling with a decision, then it's going to affect their work. And like I said before, your personal life can easily come into your professional life if you need help or you're struggling. I'm not saying you have to share everything with everyone on the team, but just letting somebody know is really important.

Stacie Hoffmeis...:           21:11                     Rosalie, It seems like you are really intentional about how you approach every aspect of building and managing your team. It's super impressive. One thing I'm wondering is the cost or the toll this takes on you as a leader. One thing I want to share with the audience is that Rosalie does not say no to someone who is more junior who needs her time. I've seen this. I don't even know how many people you mentor outside of your team, but you have got a full plate. And I'm warning you, after people listen to this podcast, you're going to be getting resumes, you're going to be getting requests to meet with you, but I'd love to hear about what is the cost for you as a leader, if there is, and then what's the benefit for you as a leader to give so much time to your team and to the talent that's coming up behind you?

Rosalie Berman:               22:09     There is no cost. I only see it as a benefit. I truly mean that because as I progressed in my career, and I'll talk specifically about women, there weren't a lot of women around. As I struggled on little things as far as can I have kids, work-life balance, can I stay working through that, and I managed to have two kids. I came immediately back after on maternity leave and I was helped through that, but I didn't have a lot of female mentors at the time. And again, Morgan Stanley and the firm looked a lot different that I could go to, so it was always a nerve wracking thing like "When do I tell my manager that I'm expecting a baby? When am I going to be able to work up to the last minute?" Which is exactly what I did, I think I worked on a Friday and I had a baby on a Monday. But those little things specifically for women and work-life balance are really hard, and I didn't always feel like I could be open and honest. Now I think it's a totally different environment.

                                                                                So if I can help women, obviously I mentor men as well, but if I can help women through those times, and I still help people today, again, I think it's a totally different environment and the firm is so much more diverse. But that's me giving back because I needed those people then. I obviously had great male mentors, et cetera, along the way, but if I can give back in that way, that means everything to me. That's what makes this job worthwhile is giving back to other people and helping them in their careers because I was fortunate enough to have those people in my life to help me. And like I said, it only takes a minute. It only takes meeting one person to change your career path, and I really mean that. So for me, it's a way to help others.

                                                                                Again, I do mentor a lot of people. My assistant knows that I don't say no. If somebody wants to meet with me, I will meet with them. It might take a little while to get on the calendar, but I mentor a lot of people, some that I meet on a monthly basis, some that I meet on a quarterly basis, some worked for me 15 years ago and call me up and tell me about what they need at this point. I'm always there. So once you're on my team, and somebody said this to me and it was probably the nicest compliment is once you're a part of my team, you're always part of my team. I'll help you no matter what, whether you're at this firm, I mentor people that are no longer at this firm along the way, because I do care and I invest a lot in people because that's all that really matters, it's the people on the team that get the job done.

Stacie Hoffmeis...:           24:33                     And we benefit from your gift, so thank you. The gift of your time and of your talents. Rosalie, thank you so much for spending time with me today and for sharing from your experience, from your toolbox. It's been great. This is really going to help a lot of other professionals to hear what you've shared. Thank you so much.

Rosalie Berman:               24:57                     Thank you, Stacie. Really appreciate it.

Stacie Hoffmeis...:           25:01     That was Rosalie Berman, Morgan Stanley's Managing Director and Head of reinvestment. Join us on the next episode where we discuss vision, how to cultivate it, how to get others on board with that and how to execute on it. Liz Dennis, Managing Director and Head of Private Wealth Management, a true corporate visionary will be my guest.

                                                                                Come In, Let's Talk is produced by Sarah Hartung Executive Director at Morgan Stanley. Along with the team at FreeTime Media. Music is by John Palmer. I'm your host, Stacie Hoffmeister.

Rosalie Berman, Managing Director and Head of Reinvestment at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, is one of the best at building diverse, cohesive, high-performing teams. And she does it with a level of care - even love - that we don’t see often enough. She takes us through her process and gives invaluable advice along the way.

Rosalie Berman, Managing Director and Head of Reinvestment at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, talks with our host, Stacie Hoffmeister, about her process of team building, starting with how she approaches hiring. Rosalie discusses the importance of investing in her team, and how she sets expectations. Stacie and Rosalie talk about the importance of exposure – particularly for junior talent – and how managers can and should make it a priority. Rosalie also paints a precise how-to for those who struggle with giving and getting feedback. With candor and care, Rosalie tackles how she mentors women through big moments in their life, and the importance of rooting for her team members, no matter where that takes them.

Stacie Hoffmeister, our host, is Managing Director, Head of Home Office Talent and Diversity for Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.