Change. That scary skeleton that dances its way out of the closet every few years. It’s the skeleton your staff fear the most. Why is everyone so afraid?
Maybe some are afraid of being forced to think beyond what they've been doing for years. Maybe for others it’s not fear. Its the frustration change brings because it messes up their plans or goals.
No matter what the reason is, when you introduce change of any kind, it’s success depends on much more than free pizza and overtime pay. How your brokerage handles the first days, weeks and even months of onboarding change is critical to lasting success, company loyalty and client retention.
Here are three ways to force that scary skeleton of change back into the closet; or at least make it less scary.
1. Mind the gap.
All brokerages have gaps they need to fill. Whether it’s the challenge of hiring qualified staff, or re-training existing staff, it’s important to identify your biggest gaps and try to fill as many as possible before onboarding begins.
When it comes to change, we’ve discovered the most successful brokerages have a consistent and well-thought-out onboarding process that includes:
- Objectives: Does everyone understand why change is taking place and what “the big picture” looks like?
- Roles: Different people at your brokerage will play a role in the onboarding. Make sure they know what they’re doing and why.
- Milestones: Phases or stages, during which activities occur. Onboarding is usually more than a thirty-day effort and in most cases, it will take a year or more until all the changes are completed.
2. Slow down on the learning curve.
Reducing the learning curve runs in conjunction with managing your bottom line. When your staff are taken away from their daily tasks, it puts servicing existing clients and looking for new ones at risk—we get it.
However, the risk is even greater when an onboarding project is rushed. Staff become overwhelmed or disengaged and may abandon the project altogether. That’s a colossal waste of everyone’s time and a big impact on your bottom line.
That is why it’s crucial to formulate an onboarding process that helps reduce the learning curve and keeps everyone happy. That could mean extending the dates beyond your anticipated onboarding period. For example, if you’ve projected six months, extend it to eight months, especially if you have new staff involved.
New staff have a learning curve that is steeper than existing staff. They need to learn your corporate culture, manage expectations, understand your hierarchy and build relationships so cut them some slack.
If the change is significant, like onboarding new software, give everyone ample time to figure it out and provide lots of encouragement along the way.
3. Invest in training.
Depending on what type of change is taking place, your best defense when it comes to making the process less scary is to invest in training. Think of it like sending a soldier into battle with the best gun ever made, but they have no idea how to load the ammunition.
If training is not part of your onboarding budget, add it immediately! Being frugal on training is the number-one reason why an onboarding project fails because:
- Everyone does their own thing. In commercial lines, doing your own thing can lead to E&Os. In addition, if someone leaves or goes on vacation, it’s difficult for staff to seamlessly pick up a task and run with it.
- Staff forgot what they learned. Timing is everything and adults learn at a different pace so avoid the added expense of buying training too soon because everyone forgot or too late because frustration has already set in.
Finally, make training mandatory—no exceptions. Taking the time to be trained properly from day-one keeps everyone focused and working towards the same goal.
How to achieve efficient onboarding
To make sure your onboarding processes go smoothly, examine your existing processes and workflows to see where changes must be made. Document each step and determine who is responsible for that step and follow-up regularly to see if they’re staying the course.
Onboarding is tricky, but with a little pre-planning, it doesn’t have to be scary. If you’d like to learn how Policy Works helps commercial insurance brokers formulate their software onboarding processes, contact us for a demo.