By Andrew Bard
Successful hiring can involve some difficult decisions as you screen and analyze candidates, yet it’s an important part of keeping your business on the right track.
Hiring the wrong person can prove to be a costly decision in terms of time and money. Some 69 percent of employers reported that their businesses had been adversely affected by a bad hire, with 41 percent of those companies estimating the cost of a bad hire to be more than $25,000, according to a CareerBuilder survey in late 2012.
Bad hires can decrease productivity and hurt employee morale. The decision can also have a negative impact on your insurance clients. If that’s not bad enough, you’ll also have to spend additional time recruiting and training another worker.
So let’s try to avoid that expense and hassle. Here are what I consider to be the top five attributes of a great new hire for a carrier or broker.
1. Initiative. I don’t hire people to do the job that is open. I hire people because I think they can grow within the organization quickly and advance in their level of responsibility. During the interview process, I want to be convinced of their ambition. I want to hear that they want my job. I want to be convinced they are committed to learning the insurance industry and our products/services. I want to learn that they know our competitors as well as our competitors know themselves.
2. Likability. This might sound shallow in some respects and maybe it is. However, I’m convinced that likability both within an organization and externally is extremely important to career success in insurance.
I work for a carrier and the only way for us to grow is to work with brokers to distribute our products. Sure, our products are different and rates vary somewhat, but in general our plans are extremely similar to the plans offered by others – and that is precisely why likability is important. If you are a broker, there are probably other brokers in your area who can provide similar products and services, so you and your team need to be likable to your clients or they will find someone else they enjoy working with more.
3. Intelligence. It’s simply not true that “anyone can make it to the top.” I believe that highly intelligent people succeed within the insurance industry. What complicates the situation is that intelligence is difficult to measure and the need differs greatly on the position for which you’re hiring.
I’m not measuring intelligence based on an IQ score. I’m referring to various forms of intelligence, such as:
Emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence involves being aware of your own feelings and those of others, regulating these feelings and using emotions that are appropriate to the situation. It also involves self-motivation and being able to build solid business relationships with your clients.
Moral intelligence. Moral intelligence involves responsibility, sympathy and forgiveness. The way that you treat yourself is the way that other people will treat you. Keeping commitments, maintaining your integrity and being honest are crucial to moral intelligence.
4. Focus. Many workers easily lose their focus amidst the daily barrage of potential distractions – text messages, phone calls, emails, social media – that can pull our attention from the work in front of us. Employees must be able to filter that information and focus on the task at hand. Multi-tasking is important but it has to be filtered and focused correctly. Employees should be able to handle multiple tasks at a time, whether they work for a carrier or a broker. We all have multiple clients and they all expect immediate action.
5. Mentality. Let’s face it: not everyone is cut out to be a business owner. The truth is, I’m not a business owner but I do my best to think and act like one – and I want to hire people who can do the same.
Business owners view the world from a “why not?” standpoint. Why not believe there are better ways to accomplish my objectives? Why can’t I have it all? Why can’t we be the best/biggest insurance provider in the market?
Too often, employees are seen as being problem finders and not problem solvers. I struggle with this at times as well. That’s why I want to surround myself with a team of problem solvers.
So what do you think of these five new-hire attributes? What attributes are the most important to you in your hiring process?
Andrew Bard is the vice president of sales for HCC Medical Insurance Services, a provider of international and travel health insurance plans. He serves as president of the Indianapolis Association of Health Underwriters and received the Global Benefits Leadership Award in 2011. Andrew may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.