Why Every Agency Owner Should Macromanage Their Agency

Why Every Agency Owner Should Macromanage Their Agency

Let’s Look at the Big Picture Here...

Great leaders are constantly looking ahead, identifying where improvements should be made and attempting to foresee future hurdles. Great leaders are also always in-tune with the current happenings of their agency. How do they do both simultaneously?

It’s called macromanaging. These leaders understand the importance of maintaining focus on the big picture while also consistently working with their team on the “right here, right now” stuff. After all, the small stuff becomes the big stuff.

What is macromanaging?

Everyone is aware of the term micromanaging (yuck!). But are you familiar with the term macromanaging? What does that mean and how does it apply to you as an agency owner/agent?

Harvard Business Review says this about macromanaging:

“Every leader knows that they shouldn’t micromanage — even if some of us still do. But while we understand the downsides of micromanaging and [have] taken action to avoid it, we still haven’t sufficiently embraced the upsides of not micromanaging.
 

The main upside is that leaders have more time to spend on what we call macromanagement. Although there are different definitions of this term floating around, when I talk with executives, I use it to mean managing the big issues rather than the small ones. Time and effort spent on macromanagement enables leaders to be as clear, decisive, and disciplined at the macro level — on the big strategic questions the organization is facing — as their managers are at the micro level, i.e., about how these decisions might be implemented.”

I think it’s fair to say that in the midst of the hustle and bustle at insurance agencies, owners forget or simply don’t have the time to focus on the big picture. Many agency owners are also agents making sales and taking care of clients. It can be difficult to find the balance.

However, every agency needs a strong leader to set the tone for the rest of the agents and staff members. So, what should leaders at insurance agencies try to focus on?

In their article, Harvard Business Review instructs leaders to think about:

  • why the organization exists and what its purpose is
  • what it offers (and does not offer) its customers, and how and why this offer delivers value to these customers
  • what this produces for the business and for shareholders — the critical outcome metrics by which the organization will be judged
  • how the people within the organization will behave — toward customers, other stakeholders, and each other

It’s one thing to think about these obviously important questions, but it’s ideal to bring these questions to the forefront on a regular basis, creating goals and taking action around them.

The Big Picture Questions

Let’s talk through these one at a time.

Why does your insurance agency exist? What is its purpose?

Some businesses answer this question through their mission statement. For example, AgencyBloc’s mission is:

“...to provide powerful solutions by making the convoluted, straightforward. We want our technology to transform the organizations that use it.”

From this statement is where all of our goals and consequent action items are built from. The point of a mission is to live and breathe it through your organization. This means getting buy-in from all of your staff and revisiting it on a regular basis. It is not a statement to put on a card and forget about.

Think about the people you want to help in your agency, the way you want to make an impact in their lives. It’s important to be specific. When you think about your purpose, you should be able to quickly identify exactly who that purpose serves.

What your team needs from you as a leader:

As the leader, your team needs to see your agency’s mission and purpose lived out by you and the rest of the staff every day. They need to see it in the new hires you bring on as well. One bad fit can ruin an entire office culture.

Your team also needs to understand how their work at the micro level builds to the macro level. Sadly, 80% of finance and insurance agents feel they aren’t valued at work. However, this can be remedied by giving your team a purpose and higher goal to aspire to.

So, if you don’t have a mission/purpose specifically defined, now is the time. Include your team in the process, and be sure it’s front and center for your team moving forward.

What does your agency offer (and not offer) your customers? And how and why does this offer deliver value to your customers?

What your agency offers prospective and current clients isn’t just your list of products. It’s also the relationship you promise before a policy is ever signed. You have to face the question: why should any prospective client choose you over another agency who offers the same products at likely a similar price?

After all, delivering value is not about price. In fact, 57% of consumers who call independent agencies do not take the lowest quote provided.” In most instances, successful agencies will say they do not compete on price. Yes, price will always be a factor, but you have to offer more than a competitive price.

So, what is value then? It’s an interesting thought, really. Here’s why (points made from websearchsocial.com):

“Nobody is born intrinsically knowing what value is. We have to learn it. And nothing is inherently valuable. Take a diamond. The only reason that particular bit of rock is valuable is because a marketing company somewhere told you it is. No kidding. There isn’t even a shortage of them. And we make them in labs these days anyway.

Such is the same for the cars we drive, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the desks we sit at to type out our blog posts on the concept of value.

Things are only valuable if they are valuable to you.”

Knowing this, how does any business ever decide what to focus on? First, you have to stop assuming what your audience values. Even if you’d pay more for excellent customer service, that might not be all that important to someone else.

Learning what your audience values is all about actively listening to them.

What your team needs from you as a leader:

Your team needs to know what your agency’s target market values. Easier said than done, for sure. This will always be an ongoing project for your agency. But, there are ways to find out what your clients and prospects want from you.

Your current clients are a bank of knowledge. Ask them why they chose to do business with you, why (or if!) they’d recommend you to someone else, and what they’d change about your agency. Knowing these things helps you draw some conclusions about what your agency is good at and what it can improve upon. It also provides some focus for you.

What are the critical outcome metrics by which your agency will be judged?

Now that you’ve provided your team with a mission, purpose, focus, and direction, it’s your responsibility as a leader to continually guide the sails.

I think that many businesses can fall into feeling good about setting goals but then fail on the follow-up or maintenance.

To avoid this, you have to know where you’ve been and where you’re headed. Consistently tracking and analyzing performance metrics are key here. Based on the goals you’ve created for your team, what metrics will best help you gauge your performance?

What your team needs from you as a leader:

Your team needs both quantitative and qualitative goals to work towards together. In an agency especially, a lot of emphasis is put around sales per agent. However, there’s so much more to whole-agency performance.

It’s great to include your team in the goal-creation process, but it comes down to the leaders to set the standard/tone. Harvard Business Review explains further in their blog:

“[Employee] empowerment requires some boundaries, some rules that have been decided on within which empowerment can be exercised. Ironically, in order to truly empower employees, leaders need to be prescriptive, at least about certain things. And these things are precisely the macro questions of why the organization exists, what it will deliver, and how it will behave.

If leaders aren’t providing clarity and certainty about these critical macro questions, then the best, most motivated employees flail in their so-called freedom because they can’t be sure they are doing what leaders want or are using their time and resources in the best way possible. And because they want to do that, they find this lack of prescription stressful — and a huge constraint on them acting in an empowered way. Equally, the less keen and the less motivated on the payroll take this lack of prescription by leaders as license to do what they want (and perhaps what they were already doing), which, of course, may be diametrically opposed to what the leaders had in mind.”

While it’s crucial to hire employees who are self-sufficient so you can steer clear of micromanaging, it’s also imperative for leaders to offer challenging, yet attainable goals for teams to work towards.

When it comes to actually tracking and monitoring these metrics, a CRM or industry-specific agency management system (AMS) is a must. Businesses who attempt to track and maintain data (especially performance metrics) on paper or in spreadsheets often fail to keep up because of the manual nature of it.

AgencyBloc is an AMS that allows insurance agencies to truly use their client, prospect, agent, policy, and carrier data to run specific reports and visualize their data through real-time graphs and charts.

How will your agency’s staff behave towards clients, prospects, and towards each other?

This is probably the most difficult question on this list for you as a leader to think about. It’s definitely more qualitative than the rest.

It’s like we said before: one person who doesn’t buy-in and “fit” into the culture you’re striving for at your office can truly ruin it. The culture you wish to maintain within your organization must be demonstrated by every staff member, and the tone is set by you as a leader.

Creating a positive office culture is all about deciding what “positive” means to you. What is most important to you as a leader? Transparency from top to bottom? Open communication amongst all team members? Self-sufficient work?

What your team needs from you as a leader:

Your team is absolutely a part of the culture creation, but they’ll look to you to set the example.

Avoid creating a list of “rules” and, instead, lay out the expectations you have for your team and for yourself. AgencyBloc’s culture, for example, is:

“We solve problems for our customers:

  • We give them amazing tools
  • We educate them
  • We make them successful
  • We make them happy!

We give ourselves the autonomy to be awesome:

  • We trust each other to do what’s right
  • We know how to get things DONE.
  • We will fail....And learn from our mistakes.
  • We aspire to be better and not settle for mediocrity - EVER

We will be transparent:

  • We don’t believe in middle management
  • We care about each other
  • We share & invest in each other

We are maniacal about success:

  • We aspire to be the leader of the pack
  • We make people say “wow”
  • We won’t settle for less. Not as a team. Not individually.”

These culture principles should be at the forefront of everything your agency does. And, every team member, senior or new hire, should fully understand and live by these.

Looking Ahead to 2019

This was a lot to take in, but it’s a good time to start trying to answer these questions about your agency. The new year is always a great time for a fresh start, especially for agencies climbing out of Open Enrollment season here soon.

Set aside some time for yourself to really dive into these questions and create goals for your agency. Here’s to a successful (and fun!) new year!

Is Your Agency's Technology Built for 2019?

If you're looking to be more organized, automate more of your processes, and to grow your agency, an industry-specific agency management system (AMS) might be in your future.

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Kelsey Rosauer

By Kelsey Rosauer on December 14, 2017 in Productivity

Kelsey is the Marketing Brand Specialist at AgencyBloc. She plans and creates educational resources to help our customers organize, automate & grow their insurance agency. Favorite quote: "I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it." —Charles R. Swindoll  More articles

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