With many challenges facing the insurance industry — such as competition from banks and other brokerages, as well as direct marketing to consumers — it takes a flexible and engaged producer to adapt and understand what today’s customer requires in order to be successful.
As an insurance leader, it is up to you to ensure that you preserve your most valuable asset — and that is your top producers. Because at the end of the day, your producers are ultimately what distinguish your firm. Another insurance company can easily replicate your offerings and even slash prices to pirate customers.
Today, more than ever, insurance leaders have to differentiate themselves through quality customer service, client intimacy, relationship building and overall stellar service.
Hiring and selecting a top producer is only one phase of the success equation. It takes continued growth and development to ensure that you don’t lose top producers. So the first step is to engage them.
With people being asked to do more and more with fewer resources, development programs are essential to the future of your organization. Development programs are entirely customizable based on the needs of the organization.
Below are some examples of what some programs might look like.
Your company may use a combination of the ideas or might seek out an approach entirely specialized to suit your company’s goals.
A customized, in-depth coaching process and developmental plan from an objective, third-party coach helps pinpoint abilities, motivations and growth opportunities at your company.
There are many reasons that an organization or individual might choose to work with a coach. These can include factors as wide-ranging as working to develop an employee’s leadership ability as part of a succession management program, to seasoned managers being given stretch assignments as a way to keep them challenged and motivated.
The process of coaching is a cycle that includes an assessment of the situation, planning a course of action, feedback, coaching sessions and the measurement of progress.
Action learning involves an employee development program where organizations solve critical and complex organizational problems in real-time, while simultaneously building strong leaders. This form of “learning by doing” helps leadership teams become more willing to learn from one another, more flexible and better able to shoulder difficult tasks.
Action learning is an excellent way to discover true leaders — before moving people into positions they may not be suited for. With the intensity of this process, the group is basically brought to the edge of chaos, where each individual discovers in himself or herself whether they have the makings of a true leader — the ability to ask the right questions and lead their peers.
This is the process that sheds light on areas where employees can improve, especially related to how co-workers feel about their performance. Three sixties also provide guidance for tapping into strengths and taking the steps necessary to make real change. The process is not meant as a way to formally review an individual for compensation or advancement. Rather, it is an approach for enhancing performance. When colleagues understand they are being asked for feedback solely to help an individual better himself or herself, rather than impacting that person’s potential raise or promotion, for example, they tend to be much more open, offering solid suggestions for improving performance.
This is the program that helps tie performance to overall strategy. A performance management system enables the company to measure and monitor performance, and it also helps integrate an understanding of individual motivations with clear expectations and open lines of communication.
Top Talent Retention
This is the program where a consultant works one-on-one with top performers to help them assess their talents, identify hidden potential and clarify their goals, while linking their abilities and interests with the needs of the organization. Increasing top employees’ feelings of value increases loyalty and tenure.
This is the process that helps a company get a clear sense of their top performers and their strengths, what distinguishes them, and how to both hire people similar to existing top talent and develop those who are currently on board who have high potential.
Validation studies provide a clear illustration of the tasks and the personality traits that are most closely related to high performance. Armed with this information, your firm can customize training and development that focus specifically on closing the gaps between potential and performance.
Although these areas just provide a snapshot of what each of these programs entail, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The main premise of such programs is customization and collaboration. Understanding your firm’s underlying goals and plans to move into the future are paramount in determining which route to take when it comes to employee development and retention.
Moreover, the process has to involve a strong commitment by leaders to implement such projects. When leaders feel invested in such programs, the enthusiasm becomes contagious. Communicating development programs as growth opportunities allow employees to feel more valued and engaged in the process.
Just as the development of more complex insurance products, such as those with investment features, requires continuing education of agents, so does internal employee development. Training on products is no longer the only area in which insurance leaders should be investing their time. Employee development initiatives will ensure that your top producers will not only be engaged with your firm today, but that they will also be motivated to move into the future with your firm long-term. The last thing an insurance leader wants to experience is losing his top producer to a competing firm.