The Winter blues, they happen to us all right? Everyone’s got the flu, we all spend too much on Christmas and now there isn’t a break in sight until Memorial Day. It’s easy to get down in the dumps and all of a sudden your insurance agency culture starts going down the drain. Like a frog in boiling water it doesn’t happen over night but you can feel it every day. No one looks excited at the office, including yourself. You, as the leader, cannot expect your team to be psyched if you’re not walking in every day ready to rule the world.
Everyone knows our Eeyore and Tigger story right? Well when you, as the agency, start to head toward the lovable little rain cloud direction your team will pick up on that and head there as well. For most of us we are all easily influenced by our surroundings. Since I’ve been doing this for so long, within 5 minutes I can tell how an agency leader’s mood is impacting the staff, customers and general health of the agency. Sometimes it’s a breath of fresh air and sometimes I even feel myself getting stressed out just by being in the environment.
One of the most common mood busters we see is people over reacting. I don’t mean this in a bad way but our emotions are funny little things that can often get the best of us. For most of us we take a single problem and review a complete worst case scenario on it. So for example there are some large national carriers that are experiencing rate increases. For many people we jump right on to:
- The phone will be ringing off the hook with customers that are upset (Note, phones cannot actually ring off the hook)
- Everyone will need to be re-shopped (Also untrue. Some will just leave, and many just won’t even notice)
- They are still paying less by staying where they are with the rate increase, what will I tell them? They won’t understand. (Generally they may not initially but people come around)
- We don’t have enough staff to handle the increase in all these re-shops we will have to do (Anticipating a problem before it’s here is never good)
When all of the FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) comes in, it’s generally from feeling out of control. We don’t sense a good plan so our insurance agency culture starts to head to the overly dramatic. You, as the agency leader, need to take control and protect your insurance agency culture by always creating a great plan of attack. You can take charge of this by using our blogs as resources or looking at having us come in to help communicate and train your team. When people have a plan they tend to calm down a bit.
Now, if you personally tend to be the type that always has a burning building that you have to play fire fighter for I want you to stop for a moment and breathe. We sometimes put ourselves in situations where we have to be in charge of everything, and when we are spread too thin more fires erupt and we don’t take the full time to train and mentor people to be in challenging situations. We often have to let go and allow people the space to make a few mistakes so they get stronger. When we dive in and fire fight we are holding ourselves back. Often times some side comments, or general demeanor can send a message to the team that you aren’t happy. When things get icy it also impacts your team morale.
I’ll leave you with this. As the agency leader you need to throw off the perception that everything is outstanding, even when personally you want to cry. I know this seems like a pretty lofty expectation. When you lead people you are larger than life. This is similar to when you are a parent, your kids expect you to be perfect. For your team, remember they are the agency’s biggest investment ever year. If your mood impacts this investment negatively you may need to fake it a bit. If things aren’t going well smile and put a plan together. But when your team feels you being down and stressed, they will catch that attitude as quick as people are catching the flu this season.
If you are reading this saying, yes but we have tried all this but our culture is still off track. No worries. We have a full agency assessment we recommend where we come in and top to bottom review everything, find the root cause and link arms with you to move it back to less frowns and more smiles.