Michael Joseph Haggerty, CPCA, took down the charts in the lunchroom and on the office walls that tracked how team members were doing on their goals. With business down dramatically due to the pandemic, he instead asked employees, “How many people did you help this week?”
But that didn’t mean Haggerty stopped paying attention to each team member’s performance. “I’m a numbers guy, so I always know the numbers and where they’re at,” said Haggerty, a 12-year MDRT member from Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. “I keep on top of everybody.”
When it comes to setting goals and evaluating performance, especially during difficult times, Haggerty knows the process involves both tracking numbers and working with team members to help them meet their individual and business goals.
It’s a process many leaders struggle with in today’s environment. How do you set employee goals and establish accountability in the midst of a worldwide pandemic and an economy that’s showing the effects of the health crisis?
All great relationships have clear expectations. The goal is to have very clear, mutual expectations.
— John J. Demboski, CFP
Develop a process
Involving his team in their performance management and goals is one way John J. Demboski, CFP, helps track goals and employee progress. In January and July of each year, he holds one-on-one meetings with each member of his staff. He refers to these meetings as expectation reviews, rather than performance reviews.
Demboski’s staff includes everything from investment advisors to a business development director to administrative assistants and part-time college students. Some work remotely (one lives across the country) and some are in the office.
The focus of the reviews is to ask questions such as: Are you meeting my expectations and the team’s expectations with your performance? Am I meeting your expectation as a leader, and is the organization providing professional development, support and engagement?
“All great relationships have clear expectations,” said Demboski, a 15-year MDRT member from Santa Barbara, California. “The goal is to have very clear, mutual expectations. I want to give them time to lean into those expectations.”
To keep his team on track with meeting their goals, Demboski draws on a time management technique he learned from MDRT, which entails tracking time in small increments for the entire week, to make sure they’re hitting their goals while also acting intentionally.
For those of us who work in the insurance business, it is clear that what really matters is people, both our staff and salesforce. It’s important they know how much we care.
— Marys Stella Jacquet
“They write down what they plan to do and what each day looks like,” he said. “At the beginning of the week, they’re setting up the intentionality of what they’re going to do and eliminating the reactive nature that’s so easy to slip into.” Team members give those documents to Demboski daily or weekly, depending on the employee.
To support those weekly goals, which ultimately tie into their larger goals, morning meetings are held from 9 to 10 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with a structured agenda focused on sharing business and personal development challenges at the beginning of the week. It’s also the time to ask for support from other team members, or update the group on each individual’s current projects. On Friday, it’s time for team members to talk about how their week went.
“The idea is that each person is accountable for bringing others up to speed and asking for help and guidance,” Demboski said. “It’s collaborative.”
Develop big-picture goals
Jennifer P. Mann, MBA, CFP, sets personal goals with her client-service associate, but she also draws her into big-picture meetings, so she has a better understanding of how she can help the company succeed. Once a quarter, Mann, her CSA and the office manager have a meeting that’s focused on goal setting and big-picture items. Annually, they take a whole day to do business planning for the entire year. Her CSA is always part of these discussions, as they set business and personal goals.
“We like to include her in the business planning side too, because we want her to have some skin in the game,” said Mann, a 16-year MDRT member from Chicago, Illinois. “She feels valued and respected, and has some say in everything.
“I think the biggest thing for performance and motivation is finding out what they want. Obviously, it has to be what you are able to do and want to do as well,” Mann said. “I think that’s why she’s as happy as she is, because she gets a say in what’s important to her.”
Tying compensation to performance
In addition to having input on her goals, Mann also involves her CSA in deciding what her compensation will look like. “Once a year, we sit down and talk with her. She gets input on her goals, and we let her have input as to next year’s salary too,” Mann said. “That’s why we like to include her in the business planning too.”
She can decide between a higher increase in base salary or taking a percentage of bonus. The CSA understands her compensation is tied to how well she helps Mann meet her goals. “Often, if it looks like we have good things going on, she may want to have skin in the game and go more toward bonus splits versus salary,” Mann said.
Mann also provides certain bonuses; for instance if Mann hits a target for the quarter, her CSA also gets a small bonus. “We have a lot of different things, because we want her to have impact and we want her to be focusing on what’s the most meaningful to her.”
Beyond goals into motivation
Employee success goes beyond goal setting. Marys Stella Jacquet recognizes that employees are key to the success of her business, and they need to be motivated and rewarded for their performance.
Each employee’s birthday is celebrated as a community, and there’s a monthly lunch with the different groups of team members. She also offers weekly workshops, especially on the subject of communication, and recognizes accomplishments.
“We establish prizes for objectives and we engage staff members who wish to participate in the marketing effort, with an opportunity to improve their income,” said Jacquet, a two-year MDRT member from Buenos Aires, Argentina.
With remote working continuing in Argentina, motivating and rewarding team members has become even more important. “We have formed several WhatsApp groups and we do role playing and contests to help maintain a high level of motivation and improve their income,” Jacquet said.
“For those of us who work in the insurance business, it is clear that what really matters is people, both our staff and salesforce,” Jacquet said. “It’s important they know how much we care.”
Haggerty would agree. He has a team of three insurance agents, two support staff and a tax preparer, which includes one employee who works remotely due to health issues.
“She is my assistant and I probably talk to her 10 times a day. She’s working on salary but probably putting in 20 hours more per week than when she was in the office,” Haggerty said.
His assistant has been incredibly productive, partly because there’s no one to talk to at home, he said. But the lack of company comes with its own drawbacks.
“She’s a really strong self-starter, but there have been a couple of times when I went to her house to check on her to say, ‘You sound like you’re having a tough day,’” Haggerty said. “One day, she realized she hadn’t left her property in a month. She hadn’t had Tim Hortons (a popular Canadian coffee shop) in six weeks.”
A short drive to his assistant’s home, with a detour to Tim Hortons on the way, made a big difference for the isolated employee. “Part of it is just showing that people care,” Haggerty said.