When a company is searching for a new employee, it often provides a “job description” that explains the qualifications for the position in terms of experience and education, highlights the big areas of responsibility the job would entail, and details the various tasks the employee would be expected to perform on a daily basis. It helps applicants determine if they meet the job requirements and sets expectations once they’re offered the position.
Of course, job descriptions tend to change over time as the business grows and evolves, and occasionally managers will revisit the job description and make necessary adjustments to set goals and expectations for the next year. This usually happens during the employee’s annual review,
Interestingly, a lot of business owners—including many independent agents and brokers—rely on formal job descriptions for the people who work for them but fail to develop a job description for themselves. Instead, they wear a lot of hats and just do whatever needs to be done.
This could be a mistake. Not only does the failure to define one’s role cause the business owner to spend time on tasks that could be done by somebody else, but it also has a tendency to make certain “to do” items outlive their usefulness. In the same way that you might modify your employees’ job duties during an annual review, perhaps an occasional analysis of your own activities would be worthwhile.
Benefits of an Annual Review
Here are a few ways a regular review of your job description could help you maximize your time and grow your business:
- Identify tasks that could be delegated or outsourced
- Identify tasks that could be eliminated
- Identify tasks that could be simplified through a well-designed process
- Identify technology that could help you be more efficient
- Focus on those activities that help your company land more accounts
- Keep your business fresh by making adjustments based on current market forces
- Incorporate the best ideas of your competitors while capitalizing on their mistakes
The last item requires some market research to determine what your competitors are doing well or poorly, but if you make this a standard part of your job review, you’ll be able to make timely modifications that will help you stay ahead of the competition.
The Broker’s Role is Changing
Let’s face it: our industry has undergone a huge number of changes in the past few years, and as a result employers and individuals are expecting very different things from insurance advisors. Just think how your sales pitch has evolved since the ACA was signed into law. Some of the “differentiators” agents talked about in 2010 no longer impress clients today—they want more.
Of course, that’s the way it always works. When a new idea or solution enters the market, early adopters embrace it and use it to differentiate themselves from the competition. As the solution catches on and more and more agents recommend it to their clients, eventually it reaches a tipping point and everyone wants it. At that point, it’s no longer a question of whether clients will adopt the solution but rather which solution provider they will choose.
When you’re putting together your job description, be sure to include the standard items that your clients expect as well as the differentiators that will set you apart from your competition.
Here’s How You Do It
If you like the idea of a detailed job description to guide your activities but aren’t quite sure where to start, here’s what we would suggest:
- Begin by making a list of every activity—daily, weekly, and monthly—that needs to be done for your agency to succeed and to grow. List the big stuff and the little stuff, from paying the bills to recruiting new clients. Include every single thing you can think of, whether those activities are performed by you or by somebody else.
- Next, read through the list to determine which tasks could be eliminated altogether. The best way to free up time is to stop doing those tasks that no longer need to be done.
- Third, go through the list and note who is responsible for each of the remaining items. If, during this review, you find that some of the tasks are being completed by the wrong person, go ahead and make any necessary tweaks your employees’ job descriptions.
- While reviewing the list, determine whether any repetitive tasks can be completed more quickly and efficiently by setting up a process, purchasing some new technology, or outsourcing them to someone outside of your company. By putting those systems in place, your agency can save enormous amounts of time. And we all know that time is money.
- Now, take a look at the activities that have your name on them. Are these really the things you should be working on? Perhaps they are, but it’s important that you make sure you’re the only one who can do them. As a business owner and producer, your time is more valuable than anyone else’s, and you should only take on those activities that you are uniquely qualified to perform. If something can be delegated, outsourced, eliminated, or put on auto-pilot through the use of technology, you’ll have more time for the important tasks.
- Finally, look at your list again and figure out what’s missing. This is a critical step. The purpose of the other steps was to free up time by making sure that you’re only doing those activities you should be doing. In the last step, you need to fill your newly-found time with important activities that will add to the bottom line. Perhaps you should fill the time with some classes that will make you a better advisor. As Steven Covey said, you need to “sharpen the saw.” Or perhaps you should spend more time networking and asking for referrals or you should make a few more prospecting calls every week. Or maybe you’ve been working 14 hour a day as long as you can remember and you should spend a little more time with your family. The point is that you should figure out what to add to the list that will help you accomplish your goals.
To complete this job review process, there’s one more thing you should do: instead of filing the document away until it pops up on your calendar again, why not keep it out where you can see it? For this exercise to be worthwhile, you need to incorporate the new activities you’ve added to your job description into your weekly calendar and to-do list. It’s not enough to add a bullet point saying you’ll make five more prospecting calls per day; you actually have to make time for those calls.
One final note—we suggested the use of processes and technology to make you more efficient and suggested that you take some classes to “sharpen the saw.” You may want to consider these ideas for your employees as well. By freeing up their time and improving their skills, you’ll be able to delegate more and higher level tasks to them, which will give you even more time to focus and the really important activities that have a direct impact on the bottom line.
How AHCP Can Help
At America’s Health Care Plan, we’re big believers in education. That’s why we, in addition to our Motivation Monday webinars, we offer multiple live training sessions every month. If you’re not attending these on a regular basis, you’re missing out. Additionally, we do a lot of market research and do our best to offer products that will be part of the solution going forward. Adding some of these solutions to your product portfolio can help you stay ahead of the competition and improve your recruiting efforts. If you’d like to learn more, or if we can help in any way, please contact us today.