Let's talk about what's keeping you up at night.
"NU Online News Service, Feb 9: Industry Adds Jobs in Dec."
Total insurance-industry employment grew by 5,000 in the last month of 2011. During the same period agents and brokers shed 200 jobs. 200 jobs out of a remaining 646,000 doesn't seem like very many. And the previous month, jobs were added in the agent/broker sector, so there shouldn't be much sleep lost over the employment situation. Unless, of course, it's your agency being affected by the additions and reductions in staffing.
How about your agency? Did you lose staff last year? Was it intentional? If not, did you lose the "right" people? Staff reductions can have a positive effect on the bottom line. But only if you lose a poor performer or someone in a non-critical job. Losing a strong performer or someone in a key position puts you in a dilemma. Do you hire a replacement and forgo an expense reduction or do you ask the remaining employees to take up the slack, knowing you will likely experience a deficit in sales or service ability? Whether the economy is good or bad, you want to make sure that improvements in productivity don't result in the loss of effectiveness.
The difference between productivity and effectiveness is that one is about the numbers and the other is about the people. Improvements in productivity with no loss in effectiveness requires accountability. As the boss, that makes you accountable to ensure that competent, skilled, accountable, individuals want to be a part of your business and you're accountable to ensure that those who don't measure up are the ones to go.
Competent, accountable, employees want to know what "good performance" looks like. They also want to be clear about how performance is measured. They want regular feedback. Employees who meet or exceed expectations want to be recognized. They want a positive consequence. When they fall short, there should be a negative consequence. No measurement, no consequence, no accountability.
What about employees who are incompetent or unaccountable? The only way to ensure that your organization is accountable is to ensure that there are no positive consequences for poor performance. Rewarding everyone the same hurts two ways. First, you won't see any improvement. Worse, you'll lose the respect, and likely the good performance, of good employees.
Remember that recognition and rewards come in all flavors, some with intrinsic value and some not. There are some few people who take sufficient reward from a job well done. Most of us, however, want something a little more tangible, even if it's just acknowledgement. Since people do things for their own reasons, it's likely that different people will respond to different types of recognition. It just needs to be fair and consistent. So...
As the boss, you're accountable to make sure there is a formal process for evaluating performance.One that is consistently and meaningfully followed.
Or is that what's keeping you up at night?
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