Any of this sound familiar?
If insurance was only about effective sales, even that one set of skills would be complex enough to warrant finding a mentor for support in learning and mastering it. And that need for a “sales” mentor is especially true in today’s tight economy and given consumers’ attitude that insurance is a desirable but optional cost that one can only undertake with disposable income. But, of course, that is not even close to all insurance professionals need to know and do. There is a lot more that makes the profession a challenge. Every ONE of these is a reason you need a mentor if you are an insurance professional. Every one of these is a reason for high employee attrition and why your insurance agency or company should provide a mentoring program.
- Massive regulations in the jurisdiction in which you work – the bigger it is and the more boundaries it crosses, the more complex it gets;
- Policy language and meanings, riders, extensions, coverage limits and exclusions, varieties, and costs;
- Re-definition of what is and is not covered, happening frequently, which position employees to have to tell clients “No” on coverage, when the same coverage was previously allowed – a moral challenge;
- Company policies regarding employee behaviors and expectations, which of course have changed and become much more complex of late;
- Relationships within the company or agency, with peers, subordinates and supervisory and management structures (which keep changing);
- Increases in work load as companies down size and cut corners to save costs;
- Relationships with identified external vendors of service for clients, such as approved auto body shops, lawyers, etc.
- Increasing uses of technology – more to learn and learn fast. The net result here is NOT less paperwork, and it IS less face-to-face support from colleagues and supervisors.
- Decreasing autonomy and ability to use your professional judgment to satisfy and balance client and company needs and expectations
- The list goes on and on, changing almost every day.
Is mentoring critical in insurance? YES! Try to learn all that’s expected and required, and learn it as fast as you need to minimize your errors and costs. How else can your learning curve be accelerated and your success improved but mentoring? If you are new to the field, new to a location, new to the company, or in the same company, but new to the specific job – YOU need a mentor. If your agency or organization has high turnover due to the factors listed above, you need mentoring to increase employee success, efficiency, effectiveness, team work, and retention. Without mentoring, supervisors become overloaded as employees go in and out the rotating doors due to attrition. Without mentoring, xlient servicing descreases in frequency, timeliness, and quality – the lifeblood of your company’s success is drained away.
You need mentoring and your firm needs to provide it.
There are many sources of guidance for you:
- The following links and program descriptions;
- The general mentor program guidance, especially for business, elsewhere on this web site. It ALL applies to you and your field. Look under “Resources” and also under “Solutions” in the top navigation bar for the specific results you want the mentoring program to deliver for you.
- The many experts and trainers and consultants, and your peers within IMA.
Here are some examples of mentoring within the insurance profession. Hopefully, these and the advice and support IMA can give you will help you create success through mentoring for your staff, yourself, and your firm.
MENTORING PROGRAM EXAMPLES
Nationwide Insurance Mentoring Program
If your goal is to groom the next generation of leaders, then team them up with top-level managers. People who have been on the protege side before often make good mentors, says Dawn Plimmer, the associate vice president of learning and performance at Nationwide Insurance.
At Nationwide, human resource executives found themselves over-thinking the matches according to technical discipline and personality. Now, they’ve made it much more random, and it works better. “We were trying to engineer the relationships,” Plimmer says. “There is such a wide spectrum of things you are bringing to that relationship, and we were only looking at a couple of dimensions.”
State Farm Insurance – California Mentoring Program – Former Mentoring Program Director Jim Newman, had nothing but praises for mentoring. He said (at an International Mentoring Association Annual International Conference presentation) that mentoring has multiple pay offs for the people and the company.
- The people gain from professional development, career development, skill and knowledge building.
- The company benefits from low employee attrition, an increased number of high performing employees, more leaders in the in-house hiring “pipe line” for succession into upper level management roles, a work force with a consistent vision and mission orientation, and a dedication to company initiatives.
New York State Insurance Department Mentoring Program
The purpose of the mentoring program is to coach and motivate new examiner trainees (G-14 and G-16) during their two-year training program. This period of support also includes required classes, seminars, and on-the-job training. Trainees rotate among four different bureaus over a two-year period. The mentoring program is intended to help new professional staff adjust to the rigors of the program and make them an integral part of the Department.
Experienced examiners are asked to volunteer to participate as mentors in the program. New trainees and mentors are matched based on the first assignment that the trainee receives. Mentors must be permanently assigned to the home office so that they can interact with the protégés when they need assistance. Finally, a mentor may not directly supervise a protégé. This was done to create the safe environment in which proteges will be willing to share their fears and problems. Mentors attend a workshop conducted by the Department’s training office.
The Morgan Marrow Insurance Agency is in Indiana USA. MMIA Account Executives are paired with one of Morgan Marrow Company’s principal owners as mentor. The mentor’s role is to help guide the Account Executive’s career and be a source of advice and counsel. In addition to this less formal interaction with a Morgan Marrow Company partner, Account Executives will have interaction with the Director of Sales Operations who is involved in formal assistance and guidance by:
- Developing marketing plans
- Attending sales calls
- Helping with proposals
- Assisting in building confidence as the commercial insurance business is learned
In addition to it’s retail business, MSA offers the Independent Agent an opportunity to affiliate with its corporate staff and team of career professionals in all aspects of the financial service industries.