While I was still on the agency side of the business, a national brokerage firm approached us with interest in buying our agency. One of the advantages they claimed to offer was "adult supervision".
I'll be honest, I didn't receive that in an entirely positive light. I know they used the words "adult supervision", but what I heard was "micro-management". I have never believed in the idea of micro-management and, besides, this was at a time when we were growing significantly each year and extra supervision didn't seem necessary.
Oh, how time can change perspective though!
As I have had the opportunity to talk to countless agencies over the past several years, I now understand the advantage of "adult supervision". While I had never thought of ourselves in that way, adult supervision is exactly what we, the leaders, provided at the time. I have also learned how unfortunately rare it is.
I still don't believe in the idea of micro-management, but I know the absolute need for setting rules and expectations and backing those up with accountability and consequences. Which is a far cry from the absolute hands-off approach I have seen in too many agencies.
As leaders, we fool ourselves into thinking we are doing our team a favor by taking a hands-off approach and letting our them be "professionals" and "manage themselves". This seems to be reinforced when agency leaders do attempt to bring this new level of supervision and accountability, and they are often met with resistance.
However, when you take time to notice that the resistance usually comes from those who need it most, you realize the "hands-off" thinking couldn't be more wrong.
Adult supervision is needed in every organization and especially in our industry, as it is being forced through so much change.
My prediction is that if you don't find the courage to bring it to your agency, you will soon find yourself selling to someone who will. And guess what? Your highest performers will absolutely welcome the higher expectations.
Don't believe me? Here's a quote from an email sent to us by a producer whose agency recently found themselves in the position of selling to just such a "supervisor".
"We are doing great!! I really feel like I have been empowered with the new company and am just working my tushy off over here. : ) I wish I would have realized years ago that not working on the little groups frees up time to write ones that actually pay a decent commission and allows me to help way more employers and employees along the way!"
And now the acquiring agency is the beneficiary of her hard work.
Photo by Elliott Brown.