Dominic is an enthusiastic and aspiring Agency Manager with XYZ Insurance for the past 15 years. He has been managing a team of about 5 full timers and 10-part timers the past 5 years. In a chance opportunity upon learning about my pursuit for Coaching Certification, he immediately volunteered himself to be coached by me to fulfill my coaching hours. This begins a coaching journey that has lasted for a year right now.
Dominic runs an agency with an annual premium of about RM750k to RM1 million. He has tried many methods in motivating the team and tried collaborating with many agencies with similar size over the years to no avail. He was living in frustrations and low morale with his business.
Coming into our coaching, he told me has ran out of ideas what else can be done to scale to the next level. He wants to know what else can be done to improve the performance of his team, specifically for team sales and recruitment. He felt that his team are lone rangers and non-committal to build a healthy team culture that will attract new recruits. At some years Dominc resort to just focus on his own personal sales, and though figures improved, but he was not at a fulfilled place, knowing that what he really wants is to build a successful agency that everyone would be proud to be a part of.
In our initial meetings, it was just casual coaching using the simple 3 Stage Coaching Model of See, Say and Do. I realized one major factor that makes this coaching partnership works from beginning is the approach I have taken. Instead of being a typical “sales guru” like a mentor, consultant or an expert in the insurance field, I was just curious to learn about insurance from a new person’s perspective.
The question I asked him was very intriguing to him. I was very clear that what I want to achieve in the beginning stage of our coaching was to stay curious, be present, listen well and ask powerful questions that will raise his self-awareness. As time passes after a few sessions, Dominic was really looking forward to our sessions because he felt my perspective and ability to see things are just different and non-judgmental. His word was “You are different from all the trainings and leaders I have been in. Your approach is very inside out and very custom made.”
Slowly, this coaching becomes a formal coaching and Dominic became my very first client after completing my CAC.
The goals remained the same, he wants to increase the sales of his team, he wants to recruit young agents (25-35 years old) and he wants a healthy team culture. As these goals were established, we begin to drill down one by one to first see, as a leader, what he has to change. What are some of the habits that he inherited from his mother agency that would no longer apply for this new age generation especially the millennials.
Through coaching, Dominic decided to work first on the team culture, to make meetings attractive before he can make any sense into them for change. He decided to focus on building healthy team culture, focusing more on purpose, values, principles and keep addressing the WHY of insurance, and WHY of being in the team.
We came to a place to acknowledge that in order to run a successful agency, it takes more than just external motivation. That has been used by the insurance industry for a long time, perks, trips, awards and recognition. We both come to realized that there are more than the extrinsic motivation that will give sustainability, but we need the intrinsic motivations.
At the beginning, Dominic took a bold step when he stopped launching new initiatives from the headquarters just for the sake of it. He stopped listening to a lot of noises in the industry that cause him to compare a lot. He stopped many unnecessary traditions in the insurance line and started to keep the meetings punctual, straight to the point and promoted more group discussions. He realized that because of the many initiatives, his agents are not able to focus and become “dull” or uninterested for any sort of meetings. They would just “show face” most of the time to fulfill the basic requirements. Things quickly change, attendance picked up and atmosphere was better. People do sense a change in the agency. Feedbacks from the agents were like, we are more focused, we have more clarity, and it’s not time wasting to come for meetings.
I begin to be involved with the core team as well at this stage to just hear them out. Most of them are experienced and earning enough for monthly living. There is no drive for the older agents. There were a lot of familiarities and gossiping. After a few sessions, we manage to come to the awareness that vision, values, culture statements and principles are not to be posters sticked around the office. The core agents come to the realization that they are the massagers, and the message as well through how they conduct themselves.
Moving to the next stage, they begin to set goals for sales. This was not easy as well, as everyone has their ways of selling. Through a few sessions of coaching, Dominic finally detected that what’s missing is not motivation. People do not rise to the level of their goals, but they fall to the level of their system or processes. There are not clear processes in his agencies all these years. It’s always just own target, own timing and own ways. As long as there are sales coming in.
In co-creating the steps to increase sales, we came to a place that we need to have good rituals (another word for system that can be emotionless). So we focus on building healthy rituals that will make motivation a habit.
Step 1: A good pre–game routine starts by being so easy that you can’t say no to it.
You shouldn’t need motivation to start your pre–game routine. For example, my coaching routine starts by me opening up my calendar. These tasks are so easy, they can’t say no to them. So each agent would just require to come 15 minutes earlier to have breakfast. Dominic invested into delicious breakfast for the agents. Posted on the group, and they just turn up happily.
The most important part of any task is starting. If you can’t get motivated in the beginning, then you’ll find that motivation often comes after starting. That’s why your pre–game routine needs to be incredibly easy to start. Agents turn up early and happily because of a simple breakfast.
Talk about sales closed and targets in a more casual way, where nobody is being judged through the power point, but more are celebrated.
Step 2: Your routine should get you moving toward the end goal.
A lack of mental motivation is often linked to a lack of physical movement.
Just imagine your physical state when you’re feeling depressed, bored, or unmotivated. You’re not moving very much. Maybe you’re slumped over like a blob, slowly melting into the couch.
The opposite is also true. If you’re physically moving and engaged, then it’s far more likely that you’ll feel mentally engaged and energized. For example, it’s almost impossible to not feel vibrant, awake, and energized when you’re dancing.
While your routine should be as easy as possible to start, it should gradually transition into more and more physical movement. Your mind and your motivation will follow your physical movement. It is worth noting that physical movement doesn’t have to mean exercise. For example, if your goal is to write, then your routine should bring you closer to the physical act of writing.
So agents would take turns to lead ice breakers, give interesting presentations and many other creative activities.
There are more and more talks about if they hit the sales, let’s do this together. Let’s go there together. Let’s buy this together. There is a common goals in wanting to do better for their sales.
Step 3: You need to have consistency.
The primary purpose of your pre–game routine is to create a series of events that you always perform before doing a specific task. Your pre–game routine tells your mind, “This is what happens before I do ___.”
Eventually, this routine becomes so tied to your performance that by simply doing the routine, you are pulled into a mental state that is primed to perform. You don’t need to know how to find motivation, you just need to start your routine.
So we discussed on steps of how to build processes. As time passes, there are clearer and a more proper way of setting goals, how to have a buddy system for accountability, how to track progress and how to celebrate as a team when agents hit their target. The overall team spirit got stronger by the weeks. Soon, because of these processes, things are becoming more structured. Making Dominic realized that, as a leader, he has been depending on his charisma to inspire his team. And hitting 1 million sales been the best he could inspire them to be.
Instead of inspiration, we continue to identify gaps in his leadership. For example, in one of our coaching sessions, we came to a place that we need to achieve scheduled motivation. Means, take action first, and feel motivated later. Dominic was in a frame where he thought being structural and systematic will kill relationships in agency, which is not true. They even schedule their connection time and so forth. There were many changes that took place through the whole period, and the rhythm or flow of the whole agency just keeps improving. Finally, that year itself, Dominic achieved his highest ever sales of 1.5 million, which is 50% growth from previous year, and highest ever for his agency.
The final goal is on recruitment. With a great team spirit, culture and agents being more positive with better income. The third goal was not as hard. The scheduled in non-sales day to connect with people, and slowly a few good recruits came in. At the timing of writing this, Dominic has successful produced a top rockie for this region and are competing for nationwide top 10. He has a proper new agent training program and also successful implemented a coaching culture in his agency. Him meeting his key agents once every two weeks for an hour applying what I have done with him. His team has grown to 10 full timers and 5 Part timers.
Today Dominic’s agency is in a much better place than it was when we first started coaching. There are of course many other details involved, which will not be included into this writing. Things are progressing positively.
As I have completed my CPC classes. I get more excited to coach Dominic as I have gained more tools. I have gained a lot more clients recently applying a lot of the things I have gained through my coaching classes with Michael.
I would want to believe that I have a greater coaching clarity through CPC. It has definitely moved me beyond casual coaching. More to self-awareness, there is a need to develop a clear plan to achieve the goals. There is a need for our conversation to be a lot more structured. Through the classes, I have discovered a lot more tools that I can use for my professional and business coaching. It is about me delivering coaching value consistently to my client through their ups and downs. To be very clear with the Key Result Area at every stage of my coaching. I have learned especially in CPC to keep my conversation tight, and never be afraid to interject to coach my client out from a specific frame. At the end of the day, what we need is to move the conversation forward and help client achieve their goals.
This journey has truly been transformative for me. I understand that to be a great coach, I need a lot of competencies, but like Michael always said, stay curious. Be curious about the words that has been said by the coachee. Having myself been coached through CAC and CPC, I am fully convinced that in this busy age, people need a coach more than ever before in order for them to life to their fullest potential, may it be individuals or organizations.
As a coach I believe, this is the best way for me to impact others and make a difference in someone’s life.
By Keith Tay