a toxic leader in the insurance space

When handling business the right way, your insurance agency can achieve a high level of success. As a highly competitive industry, there’s not a lot of room for error. Unfortunately, some insurance agencies possess toxic traits that do significant damage to the culture of the company.

9 Traits of a Toxic Culture

The best way to avoid making costly mistakes is to learn what they are and then fix them. The following are nine things that you need to watch out for. If you identify any of these, take immediate and appropriate action.

Low Employee Morale

One of the easiest ways to determine if your insurance agency has a toxic environment is to gauge the morale of your employees. That includes other agents as well as all office staff. If you notice your workers showing up late, struggling to perform, or grumbling about various things, you need to get to the root of the problem.

Hold a meeting with all your employees. Let them know you care and maintain an open-door policy so they feel comfortable to speak with you freely without any concerns of repercussions. Also, ensure them you’ll do whatever it takes to boost morale.  For this issue, recognition goes a long way. The goal is to get your staff excited and engaged.

To help with this, you can always rely on a software program designed specifically for someone in your position. Powerful insurance agency management software will help tremendously.

Reduced Production

Especially with a booming housing market, insurance agencies have plenty of work to do. However, seeing a reduction in what your employees are accomplishing is another indicator of a toxic culture. This typically goes hand-in-hand with low morale. So, if you fix that problem, production should increase.

Remember, if you want to get your employees motivated to work, make sure they have the necessary tools. That might be something as simple as software that allows them to run reports.

Missed Time at Work

If you find that an increasing number of people are calling in sick, consider that a red flag. When employees feel engaged and get recognized, they’re excited to show up for work.

For some people, skipping a day or two is nothing more than a way to avoid walking into a toxic environment. However, others legitimately don’t feel well. If someone’s overworked and unappreciated, there’s a good chance they’ll feel anxious or stressed. As a result, they stay home rather than address their concerns. This is when you need to lead and listen.

High Turnover Rate

Watching one employee after another leave your insurance agency should be a wake-up call. When people feel satisfied with their jobs, including the culture there, they’ll stay for years, if not for the remainder of their career. On the other hand, poor management can quickly lead to a high turnover rate.

It doesn’t matter if the root cause falls back on you or one of your managers. Whatever the case, you need to do something about the underlying problem. Look, no one likes to admit they’re not doing a good job managing their team. However, instead of giving up or just not caring, you have the opportunity to turn things around.

If you want your insurance agency to thrive, you need to uncover the reason that so many individuals leave. Once identified, you can then develop a plan to correct the issue.

Failure to Establish and Meet Goals

Imagine setting multiple goals only to fail meeting every one of them. It wouldn’t take long for you to question your abilities and value. That’s what happens to employees. So, when setting goals for them to meet, make sure they’re attainable. If not, the people you depend on to help run your insurance agency will get frustrated, which leads to additional problems.

As part of this, review your staff to ensure you have the right people in the right roles. At the same time, be careful not to put inexperienced individuals in positions that set them up to fail. For instance, if you have a relatively new agent come onboard, allow another agent with years of experience to help guide and mentor them.

Lack of Empathy

This applies to both business and personal aspects of your employees’ lives. To avoid creating a toxic culture within your insurance agency, show that you genuinely care and want to see others succeed. When someone’s struggling, take time to find out why and then work with them to find an appropriate remedy.

If an employee’s dealing with personal issues, show a little empathy. Although you can’t let problems from the outside affect the business, you can show kindness and understanding. After all, your employees are human, and as such, they’re going to face challenges in life.

The One and Only Solution

Stop trying to be the one and only person in the agency that can handle everything. You can’t. Even if you have tons of experience and knowledge, there are limitations as to what you can do and the problems you can solve. If you need help from an outside organization, by all means, take advantage of its services.

As an example, say you’ve tried to come up with ways to recognize and reward your staff. While they’ve done “okay,” you’re not seeing the results expected. In this case, turn to a company that specializes in boosting employee morale. There’s nothing wrong with learning from others.

No Agency Values

The core values of your insurance agency set the tone for the overall work environment. Without establishing these, you can inadvertently provide others with a toxic work environment. Along with setting rules and regulations, this involves having a philosophy or mission statement as to what the agency stands for.

If your agency doesn’t currently have established core values, consider having a team event that’s part business and part fun. You might book a full day at a dude ranch, day spa, or hotel with a pool. For several hours, hold a meeting where you provide everyone with insight as to what you want to achieve as the owner of the agency. Then, when you’re finished, everyone can kick back for some needed R&R.

Disengaged Staff

If your employees are disengaged, you’ll have a hard time reaching the level of success you want. This is yet another surefire sign of a toxic culture. In most instances, you’d see this in the comments your staff makes. That might include “It’s not my job,” “I’m too busy to help,” or “That’s not what I was hired to do.”

These and other phrases show that your employees have no real interest in their job or your success as the owner of an insurance agency. Employees who jump in to help whenever and wherever needed are incredibly valuable. Those are the people you want as part of the team at your agency.

Depending on what’s going on, correcting this could come down to better recognition, updated training, or even letting some people go. Unfortunately, once an issue of disengagement occurs, it can quickly lead to dysfunction throughout the entire agency. To avoid problems with attitude and performance, you’ll need to take quick and decisive action.