Many owners in agencies today have a lot on their plate. They may be having a hard time making the budget and paying expenses on time. Growing in these economic times is somewhat difficult. Producers may need to learn new strategies and take a more active, consulting role with their clients, than in the past.
The best way to quickly learn and make wise decisions is to first broaden your perspective. Successful business owners seek to gain from the experience of other business owners, including their mistakes, rather than blindly moving forward based on only trial and error.
How can a business owner tap into the wealth of knowledge that other people have accumulated over the years? There are a few good organizations that some agencies have joined, with owners of other firms, like Inner Circle and Vistage. These are monthly meetings where a variety of business owners can discuss their problems and needs with a group of other owners. The intent is to get ideas, be held accountable for commitments, and have shoulders to lean on.
The cost is usually in the $500 to $1,000 or more a month and sometimes there are guest speakers. Some clients feel these groups help, others have said “it took them two years to figure out what I do and they don’t understand my business.” Owners are put in local groups with owners of different types of firms, so they don’t have any competitors. However, the other members are not in the insurance business, so they might not relate on some, if not many issues.
We think there is a better solution for agency owners. Why not have an adviser or coach that understands the insurance business?
Coaching, whether for business or personal usage, is becoming more and more popular. The concept is not new, however. For years, people would learn to succeed through the efforts of apprenticeship programs or through mentors. The only difference is that today’s coach or mentor continues on, even after a certain level of success is reached.
A coach can be hired to help kick a stalled career into high gear, take the next big step on the leadership path or stay on top of mounting responsibilities. An effective coach can guide a person when addressing difficult issues and important relationships.
Seasoned business coaches provide objective guidance to individuals to help them reach their professional goals. They help individuals discover and exploit their strengths, honor their weaknesses, recognize possible obstacles to success, and then develop a course of action to help the client maximize performance.
Coaching, when implemented at an organizational level, can deliver dramatic results and drive significant financial impact to the bottom line. Today’s value-based organizations employ coaching to build alignment, to develop their current and future leaders, and to ensure the success of corporate training programs.
Coaching works best when firms have a specific purpose or goal. But simply having a clear purpose won’t guarantee coaching value. The client needs to be open to feedback and willing to move in a new direction.
Often people are stuck because they cannot see available alternatives. The same thinking that created the stuck situation cannot resolve it. A new perspective is required. A coach can be the outside expert to help you get to the root cause and make fundamental changes.
The key to coaching success is that the coach is not tied to the organization, family or friends. The coach is tied to the client. This way the coach can be objective and support what the client needs and wants and where they want to go. A coach is not personally impacted by the client’s decisions for their career or life.
Firms that offer coaching can help those who are seeking personal and professional change, growth and development. We have noticed that the key is for our clients to understand that a primary requirement for a better, more fulfilling experience of life — personally or professionally — is their own internal change.