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This Is Not An Emergency

 


This is not a test of the emergency broadcast system. No, you've clicked on this already. This is the Agent Leader podcast, but on today's Agent Leader podcast, we are going to be talking about emergencies. In fact, here's something we're going to be sharing today. Not everything in your agency is an emergency. In fact, producers hear me loud and clear. Of course, your entire team as well. Not every single thing is an emergency. And by the way, when we treat everything as an emergency, it's costing our agency time, it's costing our agency money, and it's costing our agency some culture issues right across all the people that we work with. My name is Brent Kelly. I'm the host of the Agent Leader podcast. Thanks so much for joining me on this episode. I can't wait to share with you some key areas that we continue to see with agencies, that they treat things as emergencies, and as I just mentioned, it's costing time, money, and energy to everyone in your agency.

Now, before I get into the content today, I want to share a couple of things because this specific content today, in fact, all of my content on the podcast comes from actual experiences, real conversations, agency engagement. We just recently had our mastermind summit. This is a high level intimate event. We had it in Tampa, Florida with some of our top agency leaders. We spent a couple of days together going really deep in some key areas, and these are agencies that range, just to give you an idea, in revenue from five to 6 million in revenue all the way up to 50 to $60 million in revenue, right? So there's a great variety of agencies, but certainly some high level successful agencies, many that you would see on the top 100 list. And we got very authentic. We got very vulnerable. So the content from this podcast comes from some of those conversations.

It also comes from our continual coaching and training that we do in our virtual events, whether it's our ProducerFit program or account manager program, or our Coach the Coach program, which as a reminder, these are integrated programs over the course of 90 days. So agencies get to experience the producers or get to experience the training and conversations. The service teams get to experience the training conversations, and the sales leaders get to experience the training conversations, and they're all interrelated after 90 days. Agencies are way better able to communicate some of these key areas throughout their entire agency culture. If you want to be part of the next 90 day Fast Track program, this is our integrated process and program for agencies across the country, go to sitkins.com/fasttrack. Now, that leads me to today's podcast discussion, which is about not everything is an emergency. This is not an emergency. Now, again, in the conversations that we have with agencies and certainly with our producer program, one of the big mindset changes that we focus on is this idea that important should supersede urgent.

Now, are there urgent things that happen in agencies? Yes, we're aware of that. In fact, there's a term that we talk about with producers in particular. The term is emergencies in flight. When it comes to a producer, a very simple but powerful analogy that we use is that producers, their role of a producer is very much like an airline pilot. I travel quite a bit. Just mentioned I came back from Tampa, right? An airline pilot has some major responsibilities, but there's a critical few things they must do. They've got to take the plane off, right? They've got to be able to take the plane off and get up in the air, and they've got to be able to land the plane safely. When you think about this for a producer, it's very much like a producer in the terms that we want to write new business, right?

Take the plane off, and we want to land the plane. We want to continue the relationships. Now, are there ever emergencies in flight? Well, there are. They're pretty rare, but they do happen. And if there is an emergency in flight, in this analogy, the producer needs to step in to handle this. But too often we treat every single thing as an emergency. Let me give you a silly example of this, using my airline analogy, right? The plane is up in the air and the coffee isn't hot enough. So instead of the team that's hired to help with this, the pilot leaves the cockpit and goes out to warm up the coffee. That sounds ridiculous. Of course it does. But in terms of what we see in agency production, it happens in different ways that there are little things that happen throughout the course of an account, the course of a year, and the producer thinks that it's an emergency.

So I better jump in. So what I want to do today is I want to talk about these emergencies. In fact, many of them are fake emergencies. What do I mean by fake emergencies? It means that they're not really emergencies, they're fake emergencies. So I'm going to share four areas, and these are going to be related, but four areas. I think why this happens, and I'm also going to share some areas where producers and agency teams, it is a holistic process, can work on this idea of reducing what we think are emergencies. More importantly, creating better impact with key relationships that you have, because it's going to free up time. It's going to free up capacity, both sales and service. It's going to help you make more money, which allows you to have more opportunities and options. So why do emergencies happen or at least too many emergencies happen?

Well, here's the first thing. I don't think we've ever really thought about it. Oftentimes, we just get used to doing things the way we've always done them. And again, your agency is going to have its own culture, its own language, own way of doing things. But oftentimes we see with agencies specifically when we first begin to speak with them is that they just kind of do things the way they've always done them. And that's become the culture. And part of what's become normal is that everything is an emergency, or the producer needs to touch everything or be involved in everything, whether it's being CC'd on every email, whether it's being part of every phone call, whether it's knowing every situation, whether it's, I got to go out and see this person for every single thing, right? Whatever. It's, and of course it varies, but we haven't really thought about it.

So here's something I want you all to think about. This is very tangible. It's very simple, but most agencies don't do it. In fact, on some of the recent conversations we've had both in our account manager program and in our producer program, I have challenged the agency to do just this. Ready? Here's what it is. Define what an emergency actually is, and maybe you use a different term, but in my world, emergency is something that the producer needs to get involved in. So we've got, in our world, we have high performance teams, sales and service working together, same goal, different roles. We've talked about this on the podcast before, but part of this, if we don't define what an emergency is or what specifically do you need me for, if there's an issue or problem, right? What does that actually look like? If we don't define it first, how can we live up to that standard?

Because it's never been defined. So there's a lot of gray area, and because there's a lot of gray area, everything becomes an emergency. And by the way, I think a lot of this comes from good intention. We'd rather go above and beyond than fall short. That's good. That's true. But because we've never defined that, we get involved in everything, in some cases, not only do we get involved, but we're doing duplicate work. Well I already did that. Well, I want to do it too. Whatever the case is. And by the way, the client just wants the issue taken care of, whether it's a small issue, a medium issue, or a larger issue, they want it taken care of. So number one is to help reduce fake emergencies is define what an emergency actually means first. This is simply sitting down. We talk about having high performance team meetings.

We teach this in our program with agencies how to do this effectively. But at a very basic level, you sit down together and go, listen. One of the things we want to do is prevent everything being an emergency, right? That everything is a hair's on fire. We're always running around. Those things are going to happen. We know that. But let's define what this actually looks like, and I'm going to get deeper in this of why this is so important. But if we don't define it, then we begin to compound some of the negative effects of emergency. Why else do we have fake emergencies? Well, I think this is going to probably ruffle some feathers, but if you really think about it, it is true, and I certainly have had conversations with people that it's true is that it makes us feel useful or important. If we put out small fires all the time, at least we're doing something right. It makes us feel important. Hey, I'm doing this, I'm doing that. And again, especially for some of the producers, again, might ruffle some feathers here, but producers who are kind of floating along, kind of gliding along, they're really not writing a bunch of new business, they're kind of floating along. Well, if I can hop into every emergency, even though it's

Not an emergency, I have value, I'm doing something important. Even though I have a team, very capable, in fact, probably more capable of me, of dealing with some of these things, I'm going to jump in because guess what? I did something. So to me, it's this idea of we're putting out these small fires, so to speak, and somewhere off in the distance, there's a bigger fire that could happen, but we're not, our eyes are off of it. We've taken our eyes off it because we're doing all these other things. But not only as we're going to talk about next, does it devalue your team, but also oftentimes as a producer, it causes you to miss the mark. There's other way more important things. There's risk advice, there's relationships, there's deeper conversations that need to be had and they're not being had because we are doing little things all the time that aren't really an emergency.

Okay? So I think that's a big one. And this leads into number three. We empower or we don't empower the team. And because of this, we don't trust the team. So we have these emergencies, but we want to jump in because we don't really trust or we don't really want to empower the team to do some of the things they need to do. And by the way, because we do this, we often interrupt them. Now, I've talked about this in another podcast or other articles that I've written, but there are some great studies done on interruptions, and it's actually gone deeper than this, but a very simple level, it talks about when you are in the state of flow, when you're in the state of work, when you are doing things of impact, of importance, and you get interrupted that it takes the human brain 23 minutes to get back into the same state of flow or focus.

And this happens in agencies all the time. And because everything is an emergency, Hey, what's going on here? What happened here? What do you do that is that doing something? What do you need me for? How's this going? And we don't have trust and we haven't empowered the team to do their job to completion, which they're hired to do by the way, to do at a high level, that not only are we devaluing them and not empowering them, but we're also interrupting them in many cases. And I'll tell you just recently as yesterday, I've had a couple account manager sessions already this week as I record this podcast. And I will tell you, when you talk about interruptions or devaluing the work that they're doing, you can see it in the expressions and we're doing these virtual Zoom conferences, and you can see them going, ah, it's infuriating.

It's frustrating that I've been hired to do a job and I'm constantly asked of where things are at even though I've already done it or it's in progress or I'm handling. Now, let me be clear here. If there are real issues and trust, that's a different conversation. I understand that there are some situations where maybe you got the wrong person doing the wrong work. But in general terms, we've brought someone in, and Roger Sitkins talks about this all the time. And I mentioned this too, in our programs specifically with producers, right? No producer makes a hundred percent of the commission, at least not that I know of, right? It's split with the agency to some degree. Well, why is that? Well, because there's other things we have to take care of, namely our service team that we pay and gladly. Because they do great jobs, they do great work, but you can give these activities, these non-emergencies, you can give them your time or you can give them your money, but you can't give them both.

And oftentimes we see that, that producers will give these activities, and I'm going to call now these small non-emergencies that we think are emergencies. We give them both our time. So we need to get on it and handle it, and we give them our money because we're paying a service team to do it. Well, that doesn't make any sense, right? So the big part of this is I think emergencies happen too often because we haven't really empowered or trust our team to do the job. Again, everyone needs to earn the right, earn the trust. But if we're bringing someone on to do the job, let them do the job. And then guess what? As a producer, you go do your job. Do you know what that is? The definition of a producer is one who produces, right? Produces. And we've got of course, episodes on that, but just gets back to the focus of this.

Here's the last thing, and I think this is a big one, and I'm sure there's more than this, but I mentioned already, why do emergencies happen? I think number one, we haven't really thought about it. We haven't really defined what it is. I think it makes a lot of people feel useful and important, right? At least I'm doing something even though it's just craziness. Number three is we don't really entrust or empower our team. And here's number four, I think our schedule is not proactively managed. What do I mean by that? Well, what I mean is this, that if we don't set our schedule in advance with intention, and you look at your calendar, and again, whenever you're listening to this podcast, if you look at your next week, so maybe not this week, but the next week and before the week begins saying, what is most important?

What is most impactful that I need to be doing to move my business, to move my results? Whatever it is to move myself forward? What gives me the greatest impact, greatest opportunities, you name it. What moves the needle? And those should go in first. This comes back from the seven habits of highly effective people, that we don't want to prioritize our schedule. We want to schedule our priorities. And there is a difference. And what I think happens even beyond that is that we have a lot of blank space on our calendar. Now, I think we all need white space, right? To a degree where there's some freedom and free time in there to think and all those things. But if it's a bunch of blank space on your calendar, no credit to Taylor Swift, by the way, but there's a lot of blank space on your calendar.

What are you going to do during those times? Whatever's in front of you. Guess what? Non-emergencies. Well, there's something here. I got to handle this. There's this, there's this. There's this. A lot of busy, unproductive work. Many of them, these fake or non-emergencies that we think are emergencies because we've never scheduled what's important. What I mean by this, if you don't put what's important first, everything's important. Everything's important. And this is true for producers. This is true for service team members as well, and sales leaders. I talked to all three of them. It's true. What is most important, impactful on your calendar? And if we don't schedule those things first with intention, everything will become important, even when it isn't right, even when it isn't. So there's just too much blank space. So those are my four things I want to share with you today.

And again, I wanted to keep this podcast fairly short. I'm excited too to share with you the podcast listener that I've got, I think five or six already booked, maybe seven podcast interviews with some of our top agency leaders. And I want to bring the agency leaders we work with to let them tell their story some areas that are really working for their agency and moving their agency forward, also being very authentic of things that are not working, that are holding their agency back. And of course, to share some of the things that they're doing that you as an agency leader can also implement to help move your agency forward. So I can't wait to have those interviews. They'll be coming here. I know, and as I'm recording this, they'll be coming in probably later October, November for the end of the year of 2023.

And here's what I'm going to also ask you. If you want specific content or something that I could talk about, our team can talk about. I'm also going to be having our newest team member, Kari Glennon, who are so excited to have on our team. She's such just an expert in so many things when it comes to agency leadership and performance. She's going to be adding a whole new dynamic to our agency partnerships that we have called the Business Development and Marketing Center, and I'm going to bring her on and just share some of her ideas as well to this audience. So look forward to some really cool stuff to come. Also, as a reminder, if you want to get your agency on the fast track, and by the way, this isn't for everybody. This is only for growth agencies, excuse me, for growth agencies.

So if you want to be complacent and not do too much, fine, this is not for you. But if you are a growth-minded agency and you want to get your producers, your service team, and your sales leaders all on the same page, with 40 years of practical wisdom and advice to simplify your results, make your results predictable and guaranteed, go to sitkins.com/fasttrack. We are filling these up right now for our start date in January. So don't be late and if you have any questions, let us know. We're here to help you with that. I wish you and your agency all the best in your success. Thanks so much for listening.

 

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