The success of your business depends on your team members – so why not invest in proper coaching, training, and mentoring? One of the less-talked-about ways that insurance agency owners and leaders can improve business is by paying attention to the professional development of their staff—both agents and others in support roles like receptionists and customer service reps.
Depending on where an employee is in their tenure with your agency, they may need training, coaching, mentoring, or any combination of the three.
Stage 1: Training
The most crucial time that staff members need training is when they are first hired. You’ll need to show them the ropes on everything from how the coffeemaker works to the software you use to track prospects and current clients. Create and update a new-hire checklist and track what’s been covered as you go. Also, keep in mind that the early days of any new job can be a bit overwhelming, so be patient. Pairing your new hires with an instructor who is patient and kind will start everyone off on a good foot.
You may also need to train longer-term staff members from time to time on things like updated carrier rules, new software, or the latest insurance regulations. In addition to thinking about what each person needs to be trained on, you should also consider how each individual will learn best. Most adults learn through repetition, and the more complicated the topic, the more times you should plan to repeat a lesson.
Stage 2: Coaching
Coaching is more about shoring up skills than introducing new procedures. It’s about giving your staff the tools they need to be the best insurance salespeople or support staff possible and encouraging them to grow personally and professionally.
Topics could include things like:
- Establishing rapport with customers or prospects
- Closing a sale
- Defusing anger or frustration
- Supporting customers through tragic events
Coaching can be done one-on-one, or you can do it in small groups to create a team feeling. While you may have your own ideas of what someone needs to learn, be sure that you also ask for their input. Most of us know our weak areas, and it’s easier to buy into coaching if it’s covering something we already know we want to work on.
Stage 3: Mentoring
Adding a mentor into the mix can happen anywhere along the line, though for many it makes more sense to wait until they’ve been in the insurance business for at least a year. Mentorship is about helping your staff to see the bigger picture and create a vision of the success they want to achieve.
A good mentor not only has valuable knowledge and connections, but they also enjoy sharing those things and do so in a way that benefits their mentee.
You can’t force a mentor-mentee relationship, but you can support their establishment by talking about their value and suggesting pairings. Identify those in your agency or professional network who you think would make a good mentor and ask if they’d be willing to do so. (And reciprocate by offering to mentor someone for them.) Then, when a match seems appropriate, make an introduction and offer to buy the coffee.
Spend 15-30 minutes “rehearsing” with your staff member before their first meeting so they feel more comfortable going into it, and do a debrief afterward to reinforce their takeaways. There’s no guarantee that a real connection will form, but you can certainly play matchmaker and give a few nudges to keep things headed in a positive direction.
What about you? Hometown Quotes has a great resource available to all of our clients—our Regional Directors. All of them are experienced, successful insurance professionals who enjoy helping others succeed. Call us at 800.820.2981, and one of them will be there to help train, coach or mentor you to help you reach your goals.