Hiring quality people for an insurance agency has always been tricky. With a good economy, it becomes even more difficult. Employees favor meaningful work, trust and respect from the employer, and a sense of community over compensation and long-term employment. The intangibles are what attract and retain good employees. Employers need to make sure their interpersonal relationship skills are top notch to be effective as managers and owners.
One of the best books written on effective interpersonal relationship skills was written 80 years ago. In Dale Carnegie’s, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” Dale teaches how to influence others without arousing suspicion or resentment through nine rules.
When agency owners and managers apply these rules to the daily handling of employees, employees will be positively affected and will want to help make the firm a better place to work.
A lack of respect is often the No. 1 reason great employees quit. Even great employees make mistakes from time to time, and a manager’s approach is crucial.
1. The first rule is to realize that humans are creatures of emotion, not logic. Accusing someone of being wrong will only cause them to be defensive. Instead of chastising someone for their mistakes, first, begin with praise and honest appreciation.
2. Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly. Most people know when they have done something wrong. You can bring it up indirectly and they will know what you are referring to. Embarrassing them in front of others will cause resentment, not better behavior.
3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person. When someone hears what you have done, even if it’s not the same situation but similar, it will make the person feel better. They will understand that no one is perfect, and it displays empathy.
4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders. No one likes being told what to do. Asking those affected questions will get people to open up and give you answers on what might work to improve the operation. They sit in the desks and there are things they see that management often doesn’t. It will help your people “buy-in” to changes, if they feel they have a voice in it.
5. Let the other person save face. It does no good kicking a person when they are already down. People’s dignity, honor, feelings and egos should be left intact, especially in front of others.
6. Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. People need encouragement, especially if they are learning or have made mistakes. Be the example of how they should be and give them tools and ideas.
7. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to. A good reputation is important, especially because we all have egos and they need to be fed. When you tell people “I know you have this in you and you can do it,” it gives them confidence and something to strive toward.
8. Use encouragement and make the fault easy to correct. Don’t let people drown; at least throw them a life preserver. Let them know you see them easily overcoming any setbacks.
9. Make the other person feel happy about doing the thing you suggest. This is accomplished by sharing the benefits of what good will come in implementing your suggestions. Giving someone ample praise when they have made a change or exhibited good behavior will make them happy to complete tasks that are requested of them. If there is a way for employees to think your suggestions are theirs, they are even more happy to implement the changes.