Minding Your Business: How to Hire the Right People

By and | April 16, 2018

A new book called “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek covered this topic and gave us inspiration for this article.

In the book, Southwest Airlines founder Herb Kelleher talked about how his hiring practices of not hiring “for skills [but hiring] for attitude. You can always teach skills. One needs to hire attitudes that fit the firm’s culture.” Kelleher made Southwest Airlines such a success that no one, including United’s Ted, has been able to copy.

Owners need to figure out if people will fit the culture first. The best employees aren’t in it just for the money, but because they believe that they can personally succeed and make an impact.

To find the next great producer, agency owners should look for people with that drive to “win” because the insurance knowledge can be taught. Professions such as teaching and coaching will provide much better and hungry salespersons for an insurance agency, than just paying a higher commission split to another agency’s disgruntled producer.

Per Sinek, “Great companies do not hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them. Unless management gives motivated people something to believe in, something bigger than their job to work toward, they will motivate themselves to find a new job.” Then, owners will only have those less motivated individuals left.

A firm’s employees need to feel they belong and are important to the organization. If they do, then they will guarantee the company’s success and will also do the job for themselves.

When we help agencies with improving productivity and profitability, we speak to those on the front lines, in the desks without their managers there. We ask them how they could improve their productivity or make their jobs better? What do they need to do a better job, what training, what tools, what assistance or support from management is needed?

Owners should look to the employees every day. The employees often are frustrated when we are hired to ask those questions, when they have been telling management all along what needs to be done. One of the questions we ask is, “Does management ask your input when making changes in the operation?” Most often we hear “no” and this causes morale problems.

Those on the phones with the firm’s customers every day know what customers want and what is wrong with the organization. They just need to be asked and then given the tools to make the work flow go more smoothly and help the customers with their needs.

The key is not to tell employees to do their jobs but to remind them why the company was founded and look for ways to bring that cause to life, while performing their job. If owners do this, those employees will do more and make the company better.

Oak is the founder of the consulting firm, Oak & Associates, based in Northern California. Schoeffler is a financial analyst and junior consultant for the firm. The firm specializes in financial and management consulting for independent insurance agencies, including valuations, mergers acquisitions, clusters, sales and marketing planning as well as perpetuation planning. Phone: 707-935-6565. Email: catoak@gmail.com.

About Catherine Oak

More from Catherine Oak

About William Schoeffler Jr.

Schoeffler Jr. is a financial analyst for Oak & Associates who specialize in financial and management consulting for independent insurance agencies, including valuations, mergers acquisitions, sales and marketing planning as well as perpetuation planning. Phone: 707-935-6565. More from William Schoeffler Jr.

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