Is your agency committed to relentlessly training your team to be the best? We know that training can be a challenge. Between finding the right people to help train, finding the time to hold the training, and building the content yourself makes it feel like training is on the list of things that would be nice to have. As we wrap up this year and charge forward toward 2019, training your team should be a top priority. We cannot use these excuses as the reason it’s not done.
Why Training Matters
We generally all believe in training. Belief + action = results. Many agencies fail at the action part! So let’s start by reviewing the value in investing your time and dollars in team training:
- Employee Retention: Team members who feel empowered and comfortable tackling new industry challenges tend to stay longer. We all know the costs of being short staffed and how it impacts the team, agency retention and the overall agency stress level. It has been found that it takes 200% of a trained employee’s salary to find a new trained team member
- Brand Ambassadors: At APP we believe every team member should be a brand ambassador. You want your frontline team well trained and knowledgeable to represent you and your agency to the best of their abilities.
- New Hires: at APP we help our clients find the best talent. The #1 question we get from potential new recruits is, what is your training program? New people need and crave training. Your agency needs to invest in training new hires and continuously invest in your team.
- The World Is Changing: Some direct writers are spending $1 billion dollars in advertising. Is your team trained to compete against that? Clients believe in immediate gratification and lowest prices (after billions of dollars of advertising, people are trained to think like this).
How to Make Training Work
Everyone learns differently, but in order for training to be valuable it must stick. What’s learned in training cannot be just a recommendation, it must stick. So how do you convert training into action?
- Leadership needs to participate in the training. Don’t stick your people in a room without guidance.
- You need someone in the training to take notes and digest them. Break it down into 3 key take aways and within 48 hours create your action plan.
- Identify that online training is great, but it can’t be done at their desks. How often do you check email while on a webinar? You need to section off the training so people are focused.
- Practice makes perfect. After a training force people to practice the take aways and hold a follow up meeting to discuss results.
- Learn what your team wants. What are they struggling with? Don’t assume or just gobble up all the training you see. Identify the key challenges and seek out the best training for that challenge.
5 Creative Solutions to the “I’m Too Busy To Train” Situation
- Use your 4 Key Holidays: Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Presidents Day and Martin Luther King Day are all nice to have off but they are better to coordinate training on. Pick 2 and adjust your holiday schedule to allow training. Do this now before next year starts.
- Carrier Training: Set a schedule of lunch and learns for your team. Make it once per month and Fridays are usually great. Close the office so everyone can hear the same message (just for 1 hour). Make sure your team is prepared, they should each come with 1 question and submit it to the carrier rep in advance.
- 2 Trainings Per Year: For our team they are entitled to attend any 2 trainings they would like every year. It’s up to them to find the trainings and we will pay for them. This helps them identify where they need assistance and seek out learning that they are bought into.
- Technology Training: Appoint a system matter expert for each piece of technology. Ask them to quarterly round up any and all updates and tips and tricks. Give them 20 minutes (think of it like a TED talk) to dish on what’s new and great. Cycle this throughout the year. Unused technology is a huge learning gap in agencies.
- You: Yes you! You have a ton of insurance experience. Turn the lessons of the agency into teachable moments. We all make mistakes. Instead turn a mistake into a case study that the team learns from. Don’t point fingers, instead keep all the facts neutral and walk people through how to solve it.
The bottom line is that your people are your biggest investment every year. The more you invest in them the better they will do! We can’t be too busy on today’s challenge to not solve the challenges of the future.