I attended the first day of IIAG’s Fall Conference in Macon and sat in on two interesting and informative presentations. However, before I get to them, I want to give you some more information on last week’s blog post about the importance of Millennials to the insurance industry. In that post, I referred to a panel discussion in a webinar sponsored by Applied Systems. I recently learned of a report titled “Why Millennials Matter” that was prepared by Applied Systems based on an independent survey and Millennial agent interviews. That report addresses the consumer side of the Millennials and insurance issue. (Click here for an overview of the report’s findings and a link to download it.) I also came across another article that offered suggestions on how to recruit and retain Millennials as employees of your agency.
According to Marit Peters, who lead one of the presentations I sat in on at the Fall Conference, one way to get and keep employees of all generations is to provide a workplace that engages them. To do that, it is necessary for agency owners to practice what is known as servant leadership. Such leadership focuses on the people of an organization and not its financial and other numbers. If the employees of an agency think that the management staff actually care about them as people, they are more likely to be willing to do what is asked of them and even more.
Servant leadership begins with an inversion of the traditional pyramid of management hierarchy that puts the agency’s customers at the top followed by those employees who have the most contact with the customers. In this model, management’s primary duty is to provide those employees with whatever is needed to serve the agency’s customers as they want to be served and to solve any problems and remove any obstacles that may arise. To do so, there must be two-way communication between management and employees about the nature of the problem or obstacle and how best to solve or remove it. Above all, management should not “shoot the messenger” in this situation.
Ms. Peters also discussed a process for creating an engaged workforce that starts with a “base camp” of six basic things that should be provided to all employees. Each employee should know what is expected of them, have what they need to properly perform their duties, have the opportunity to do what they do best every day, regularly receive recognition or praise for doing good work, and feel that someone in management cares about them as a person and encourages them to develop their skills. Ms. Peters made the point that the level of engagement of employees at work has a direct impact on the bottom line of an agency. The more engaged employees are, the better customer service they will provide, which will in turn result in more satisfied customers who are more likely to stay as customers and refer others to the agency. (Click here for Ms. Peters’ presentation slides which include a process for problem solving and much more information.)
Next week, I’ll discuss the presentation on Best Practices that I attended. That presentation provided great information on how to determine if agency and producer performance are what they should be, among other things.