Tag Archives: gallup

Easy Ways to Start Mentoring Program

If there is one aspect of business building that has confounded even the smartest of entrepreneurs, it’s developing the team. The reality is that we simply don’t have the skills to develop their skills, and that can have a long-term and negative impact on the business.

Where Are You Today?

In 2015, we conducted research for the FPA’s Research and Practice Institute and Financial Advisor IQ that focused on team compensation and benefits. As part of that study, we examined team development, and I was impressed to see that almost all respondents support their team members’ personal and professional development, through training, financial support or continuing performance reviews.

At the same time, I noticed that most development initiatives were informal. Although 60% of respondents administer formal performance reviews, development activities such as new-employee training are overwhelmingly informal. The same is true for mentoring.

Have Your Considered Mentoring?

Mentoring is one development option that is generally considered very effective. Like all such development tools, of course, it’s only effective if it’s done well. Remember that mentoring can mean you being a mentor to the team, someone else on your team being a mentor to others or simply helping your team find outside mentors. It isn’t just an option for large businesses.

The reality is that mentoring doesn’t have to be a “time-suck” for you personally, despite its reputation for being exactly that. Today, I want to help you think about taking the first step to understanding where your team needs help and the role that mentoring might play in helping them maximize their potential.

See also: The Keys to Forming Effective Teams  

What Are Your Gaps?

An obvious first step is to figure out what gaps mentoring (or any development activity for that matter) is going to bridge. A performance review process is clearly an important first step. You may opt for a formal tool (such as DiSCPredictive Index or any of a range of tools) or you may opt for a good old-fashioned conversation with a team member.

Whichever approach you take, consider the following in evaluating your team members, ensuring that you cover three potential types of objectives.

1. Performance Objectives

  • Success in meeting specific, measurable objectives based on role
  • Joint accountability: the ability to work well with and support the entire team
  • Attention to detail within sphere of role
  • Timeliness in completing work
  • Initiative: goes above and beyond defined role

2. Competency/Development Objectives

  • Customer service skills
  • Sales
  • Time management
  • Public speaking
  • Business writing
  • Leadership
  • Software skills
  • Graphic design
  • Financial planning

3. Personal Development Objectives

  • Personal improvement goals that the team member sees as important to moving career forward, for example:
  • Professional designations
  • Training courses
  • Advanced Business Training

You might also consider skills assessment tools, which differ substantially from performance review tools.  These tools can be helpful when you are thinking more about getting the right people in the right roles – or who to hire in the first place.

Consider the following:

Kolbe. The Kolbe A Index is designed to measure the conative faculty of the mind — the actions you take that result from your natural instincts. The index validates an individual’s natural talents, the instinctive method of operation (M.O.) that enables you to be productive.

VIA Strengths Test. VIA has identified 24 character strengths that are universal across all aspects of life: work, school, family, friends and community. Whereas most personality assessments focus on negative and neutral traits, the VIA Survey focuses on what is best in you and is at the center of the science of well-being.

Strengths Finder. Based on research from Gallup, you access this assessment by purchasing the book. It’s designed to help uncover your talents and incorporates strategies to leverage the strengths you identify.

Mentoring Options

Mentoring is an option (whether delivered formally or informally, internally or externally) that I believe has a strong potential to have significant impact. Of course, it’s not always easy to get moving.

In an interview with Rebecca Pomering for our Spotlight program, we reviewed the three types of mentoring available at Moss Adams. This is a helpful way to think about what you are trying to accomplish and highlights that mentoring can be more or less involved depending on your needs.

At Moss Adams, Rebecca explained that there were three types of mentoring available:

1. The Buddy

A buddy might be assigned for a new employee. That individual may or may not be involved in the actual job training, but is there to help navigate the office and company. The buddy is someone a new employee can ask any question of and not feel judged in any way.

2. The Mentor

A mentor is more traditionally defined as supporting the team member either on a specific topic or skill or on a longer-term basis. Employees may be asked to identify a mentor or go to management if they are looking for support on a specific issue. On some teams, mentors are assigned, but the jury is out as to whether relationships that are not explicitly chosen are as effective.

3. The Sponsor

A sponsor’s objective is to actively support and promote the individual in career advancement and development. Sponsors are typically individuals who have the political and organizational connections to make that sponsorship effective. Sponsors may or may not be mentors and vice versa.

See also: How to Pick Your Insight Team  

Talk to Your Team (First)

If you’re considering implementing a mentoring program, ensure you start with clear direction from the team on what will work and what won’t. Below are a series of questions that could form the basis of a survey or a conversation:

  • Have you had experience with any form of mentoring? If yes, what form did it take, and how would you describe the impact?
  • Do you think it would be valuable for us to consider implementing a mentoring program, which we’ll jointly define?
  • How do you think a mentor could help you?
  • How would you describe your ideal mentor? What skills, experience or personality traits would he/she have?
  • Specifically, what kinds of issues would you hope to address with a mentor?
  • Would you prefer to be assigned a mentor or to have support/guidance in finding someone yourself?
  • How would you describe the outcomes of a successful mentoring program for you? What would have to happen for you to describe the process as successful?
  • Is there anything that you feel definitely wouldn’t work when it comes to implementing a mentoring system?

Talk to Yourself (Not Literally)

You’ll also want to get clear on your own goals and objectives for providing or facilitating mentoring. To that end, consider the following questions if you are thinking about finding your own mentor. Or, if it’s for your team, ensure both the mentor and mentee clarify exactly what they’re hoping to accomplish and how they know if they’ll be successful.

  • Exactly what are you trying to solve for? Are you looking to develop a specific skill, gain general insights into a specific topic or have someone you can go to for continuing advice?
  • How long do you anticipate the mentoring relationship to last?
  • How often will you meet, where and for what length of time?
  • How will you both prepare for those meetings?
  • How do you define success?

Personally, I consider team development one of the most challenging aspects of running a business. We surround ourselves with these incredibly talented people, and it’s easy to feel like you are letting them down. Ultimately, development is about prioritizing and booking the time to do something, even if that something isn’t perfect.

Thank for stopping by,

Julie

Don’t Believe Your Own Fake News!

According to Gallup’s long-running Honesty and Ethics in Professions survey, trust in journalists over the last 40 years has seen a steady decline and is now at an all-time low. Part of the reason is the wide variety of sources available to journalists and the speed with which people are clamoring for news. Back when there were only three primary networks and a limited number of major newspapers, seasoned reporters seemed to keep a tighter rein on journalism’s criteria and standards.

Insurance executives are suffering from many of the same issues when trying to rely on their data and analytics. They may frequently ask themselves, “Where am I getting my news about my business?” and “Can I trust what I’m being told?” Data within the organization can be coming from anywhere inside or outside the company. Analytics can be practiced by those who may be reaching across departmental boundaries. Methods may contain errors. Reporting can be suspect. Decisions may be hastily made based on “fake news.”

No industry is immune. Google Flu Trends (2008-2013) was supposed to predict flu outbreaks better than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) using a geographic picture of search terms loosely related to the flu. Somehow, though, the algorithms consistently overrated correlations and over-predicted outbreaks. After several years of poor results, teams from Northeastern University, the University of Houston and Harvard concluded that one of Google’s primary issues was opaque methodology, making it “dangerous to rely on.”

See also: Innovation Won’t Work Without This  

Here are four actions that insurers can take to close data and analytic gaps and create an environment where news reflects reality and is able to be trusted.

Watermarks

One simple recommendation is to watermark views of data as certified. Certified sources, certified views and certified analyses could carry a mark that would only be allowed if a series of steps had been taken to maintain source and process purity. This Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval will provide your organization’s information consumers with the confidence that they are looking at real news. Of course, the important part in this process is not the mark itself, but developing the methods for certifying.

Attribution

Attributing information that is used in an ad hoc way to the data source also allows other team members to trust that the source is vetted and that the information presented will be verifiable. In any research project, it is common to add data citations, just as one would add a footnote in an article or paper.

Attributions add one other important layer of security to data and analytics — historical reference. If a team member leaves or is assigned to another project, someone attempting to duplicate the analysis a year from now will know where to look for an updated data set. It is also more likely that the results from decisions made on the data are many months or years away. If those results are less than optimal, teams may wish to examine documented data sources and analytic processes.

Governance

Organizationally focusing on the benefits of good data hygiene and creating a culture of data quality will increase your organization’s data quality and improve trust levels for information. Governance is the core of safe data usability. Poor practices and fake news arise most easily from a loosely governed data organization.

The concepts of governance should be communicated throughout the organization so that those who have been practicing data analytics without oversight can “come in from out of the cold” and allow their practices to be verified. But governance teams should always act less like data police and more like best practice facilitators. The goal is to enable the organization to make the best decisions in a timely manner, not to promote rigidity at the cost of opportunity.

See also: Are You Still Selling Newspapers?  

Constant Listening

Finally, when data teams constantly have their ear to the ground and are continuously aligning the information that is available with the needs of the consumers of that information, then best practices will happen naturally. This awareness not only ensures that fake news is kept to a minimum but also ensures that new, less reliable reports and views are not cropping up with the excuse that necessity is the mother of invention.

It also means that data teams will have their eyes open to new sources with which to assist the business. When data teams and business users are frequently helping each other to attain the best results, a crucial bond is formed where everyone is unified behind the visualization of timely, transparent, usable insights. Data stewards will have confidence that their news is real. Business users will have confidence to act upon it.

4 Ways to Manage Remote Workers

Very few entrepreneurs can go from idea to success without a team of people supporting their projects. Besides hiring people in-house for human resources, marketing, production and service jobs, they may need to hire virtual employees and contractors to fill these positions. Either way, they need to create and foster a team-based environment to create a feeling of accountability and responsibility within the shared goal of success.

Creating a team atmosphere can be very difficult with virtual staff, whether employees or contractors. It’s a growing issue because technology opens up so many options for people around the world to work together as a team. According to Gallup, as many as 37% of workers were telecommuting as of 2015.

But there’s more to teamwork than simply working together on the same project. Teamwork involves a sense of camaraderie, support, respect and cohesiveness that can’t always be manufactured simply by the process of a shared project.

See also: The Keys to Forming Effective Teams  

Remote teams are not at a disadvantage in terms of overall performance. In a study conducted by MIT, it was found that teams of dispersed, remote workers often outperformed teams composed of workers within the same location. In part, this is due to the increased productivity that employees and contractors enjoy while working on their own, within their own ideal environment.

But to truly harness that productivity, entrepreneurs with dispersed teams must learn to effectively manage those teams and create a sense of teamwork within them. This can be done by:

  1. Having at least one face-to-face or screen-to-screen meeting. Even virtual face-to-face communication, such as through sites like Skype, helps build relationships and foster trust within the team. People like human contact.
  2. Encouraging collaboration. There is a difference between true collaboration and simply working together. Collaboration allows the team to get excited over a shared goal and inspiration, rather than simply doing their part to achieve an end to a project. Schedule occasional brainstorming chats or conference calls to foster a collaborative environment.
  3. Being clear about expectations, guidelines and standards. One of the best ways to undermine a team is to give every member a different set of rules to play by. Assume that your team members are going to talk and share information outside of scheduled meetings. Keep all their expectations, guidelines and standards uniform so there is no jealousy, competitiveness or implied favoritism.
  4. Giving the team a place to collectively debrief. Create a “virtual water cooler” so that remote employees and contractors can talk, exchange ideas and have an informal place to bond outside of meetings, Harvard Business Review suggests. You can do this by setting up a private group on a social networking platform or by using a program that has group chats or forums.

In a world where more and more employees are working remotely, it is important to take extra steps like these to create a team environment among people who don’t work in the same location. The result can be a sense of community and loyalty that cannot be quantified. Feeling like you’re part of the team leads to lower employee turnover, greater job satisfaction and higher productivity and creativity.

See also: How to Pick Your Insight Team  

So why not schedule that weekly team call? And allow the same technology that enables us to work apart to bring us together.

4 Tips: How to Be a Manager, Not a Doer

No one can deny the great feeling you experience after earning that promotion. Not only does it validate the hard work you’ve done, but it’s proof that you excel at your job. It means that your organization values your contributions and believes that you’re ready to take on more responsibility.

Ready for the bad news? Being an effective manager is tough. Whether you were a claims representative, an underwriter, an agent or a broker, or serving in any other role in which you were an individual contributor on a larger team, your new role is entirely different. Your new responsibilities–managing and leading others–requires a whole different skill set that you likely never learned before.

See also: How to Unlock Group Insurance Market

It’s an all-too-common story. Studies say that up to 50% of new#managers fail within their first year on the job. Gallup says that only one in 10 people possesses the talent to manage. And there’s the notorious Peter principle–the idea that employees are promoted until they are no longer good at their jobs–a particularly common pitfall for first-time managers.

Those intimidating stats show just how jarring the transition to #management is for many people. But don’t let them scare you. Instead, use them as a reminder that, as a manager, you need to begin thinking differently about your job, your role and your skills.

Making a Successful Transition

Repeat after me: “It’s no longer my job to get things done. It’s now my job to make sure that things get done.”

This is undoubtedly the hardest concept for a star performer turned manager to grasp. It’s a subtle distinction, but understanding the difference could make or break your career as a manager. You’re no longer a doer–you’re a leader. The emphasis is no longer on working harder, it’s on working smarter. If you’re staying late to correct and touch up claims long after your employees have gone home, you may be working hard, but you’re not effectively managing your team.

It’s a big mindset adjustment. But once you start thinking in those terms, you’ll start utilizing more effective and sustainable management practices and be a better boss as a result. Here are four more ideas to help keep you on track as you go from doer to manager.

1. Don’t solve every problem. If you’ve worked in your role long enough, chances are that you have the solutions to a lot of problems that creep up. In the past, your job was to solve them and move on. As a manager, your job is more to give your employees the skills and understanding they need to solve problems and keep them from coming up again. Approach every new scenario with direct reports as if you’re their teacher.

2. Study up. There’s a reason so many books are written on management. Most of them focus on what makes great leaders, not what makes great first-time managers, but regardless, management isn’t a natural skill for most people. Find reliable sources that teach you more about what it takes to be an effective manager and leader, whether it’s a book or two you can read over the summer or a comprehensive training session on management, like our Management Education at the Wisconsin School of Business program being held this October.

See also: How to Find, Keep Good Service Reps

3. Check your relationships. You may suddenly find yourself managing your long-time lunch buddy. Maybe your former boss is now a peer. How you handle these evolving relationships is key to your success as a first-time manager. In the Gallup study, researchers list five traits all great managers share. Notice that they all revolve around successfully handling relationships on the job:

  • They motivate every single employee to take action, and they engage employees with a compelling mission and vision.
  • They have the assertiveness to drive outcomes and the ability to overcome adversity and resistance.
  • They create a culture of clear accountability.
  • They build relationships that create trust, open dialogue and full transparency.
  • They make decisions based on productivity, not politics.

4. Don’t stop at managing. Once you’re a successful manager, you’re ready for the next challenge–becoming a leader. Managers are tactical. They put systems and logistics in place to make sure that things get done. Leaders are inspirational. They motivate and engage their teams to work hard and find new ways to get things done. Not all managers can be great leaders, but all leaders must possess at least a basic skill for managing. Dr. Stephen R. Covey, author of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, sums up the distinction nicely: “Management works in the system. Leadership works on the system.”

Gallup

A Wake-Up Call for B2B Brands

Gallup has just released the Guide to Customer Centricity: Analytics and Advice for B2B Leaders. The study reports that 71% of B2B clients are ready and willing to take their business elsewhere – not even one-third are fully engaged in their relationships with suppliers.

If you are operating in the B2B world – and you likely are, as either a supplier or client – do you find this statistic surprising?

This finding should be a wake-up call for B2B brands to figure out what is going on with their clients.

Do you know anyone in the business world who will say they are opposed to client-centricity? Putting clients at the center of a business remains an aspiration for many companies. Why is a strategy of such potential value so difficult to execute? What must happen to create mutually beneficial relationships between businesses and clients?

Companies have to get out of their own way and provide the value that clients expect. B2B or B2C, people handing over their money to you because they believe you are meeting their needs demand personalized engagement. They will choose the right moment to go elsewhere if you fail to deliver. Here are some areas that can make a difference:

  • Sales force compensation systems rewarding new client deals, with little incentive past contract signing and getting the client set up, can be updated to reward surfacing and delivering on continuing needs.
  • A linear approach to winning, welcoming and engaging clients can be reinvented to treat clients like people and break old habits of putting them through a gauntlet of internal systems and silos.
  • An outside/in understanding of client needs and wants can replace product pushing. Even traditional client needs assessments may not capture evolving needs – these methods tend to play back answers biased by the products driving today’s P&L.

There is no magic to this. Client-centricity requires change and a new mindset. It’s hard work. Where can you begin? Follow these four action steps to identify the priorities for your business:

  • Go out and talk to clients. The value of conversations where clients do most of the talking and you do most of the listening can be far higher than quantitative research.
  • Segment your client base. This is not just about bucketing clients by size, sector, potential value to you or historical purchase relationship. It’s about the clients’ journeys, including their attitudes and behavior, how they go about achieving their vision of success, and where you fit in.
  • Reimagine your clients’ experience of doing business with you. How does your brand enhance the clients’ journey — it’s not about making them fit in to your mechanisms for running your business. It’s about reflecting their preferences back to them in every interaction they have with you.
  • Figure out what this means for your employee experience and expectations. Everything from sales incentives, to marketing communications, to servicing policies to channel capabilities – should contribute to the experience your brand will create so your clients see you as enabling their vision for their business. Hire people who are not only business-focused but people-focused.

The very term “B2B” fails to acknowledge the reality that every brand, irrespective of whether its audience includes individuals or enterprises, must prove itself to the people who will be its users, buyers or payers. Behind every B2B relationship are P2Ps – People-to-People.

This post also appears in Amy’s regular column on Huffington Post.