How to Manage Negative Employees
You try to make your insurance company a positive place to work. You do this because you want to create a pleasant work environment, but it's also a way to give your clients the best. When your employees enjoy their work environment and their colleagues, your insurance business thrives. How can you work to make sure that your insurance jobs are filled with employees who enjoy working at your company and show it?
1. Hire Positive People
When you're hiring, you need to hire for personality as well as for qualifications. You could hire the best insurance salesperson in the world, but if that person brings the rest of your team down, it may not be the right decision for your company. Ask interview questions that focus on how prospective employees manage conflict or challenges and talk with references who can tell you how that employee has worked with past colleagues and with the public. It's much easier to hire a positive person than it is to try to work with someone who's consistently negative.
2. Create a Strong Workplace Culture
According to Entrepreneur magazine, "negative employees who bad-mouth the company and its leadership to fellow employees and even customers can disrupt morale." While employees need to have a way to complain, excessive or consistent complaining to other staff or to customers can reduce overall morale, productivity, and sales.
To reduce negativity in your employees, create a strong workplace culture. Make it obvious that those involved in conflicts, concerns, and complaints should manage them and that if they are unable to do so, they should speak with management. Negative interactions do not need to spill over into your everyday work environment.
3. Appreciate Your Employees
Have you ever worked really hard on a project, only to have everyone overlook your hard work? Employees don't like this feeling either. If you see an employee putting in a lot of effort to work with a difficult customer, make a process at your company better, or pursue further education, give your employee some verbal or written appreciation. Noticing your employees' efforts goes a long way to creating a positive work environment.
4. Challenge Your Employees
Employees who feel like they're stuck in a dead end job are more prone to feel and act in a negative way. If employees feel like they have the ability to change and grow within insurance jobs, they'll feel more positive about their future. Give employees clear job descriptions, and show them the typical ways in which people rise in your company. Give everyone an opportunity to contribute new ideas and work on pet projects that could benefit your insurance company.
5. Institute Conflict Resolution Strategies
Some negativity comes from unresolved conflicts. If employees are having a conflict with each other or with management, they need to be able to work through this conflict, or they will feel negative and may express this to others inside or outside the company. Create visible conflict resolution processes and show that you're open to discussion about concerns. Develop regular check-ins with your employees to give them the opportunity to air concerns with others.
6. Have the Conversation
They're some of the most awkward moments of insurance jobs: the times when employers need to talk with employees about their performance. However, if your employees are consistently negative and bring the team down, you need to talk. Get specific about the behavior that isn't working and suggest an alternative. For example, if an employee complains to customers that there's a draft from the door that management has ignored, suggest that the employee addresses such concerns with management before talking with the public. Having open and consistent conversation with your employees will help you head off ongoing negativity.
7. Show Empathy
Even if you're frustrated with your negative employee, it's important to show empathy. After all, an employee's behavior may not even originate from work. That person could be having challenges at home or could be chronically ill. Before you fire a negative employee, have an honest conversation about the impact that person's negativity is having on the company, and be open to providing accommodations that could completely change your employee's attitude. For example, an employee who is frustrated at missing a child's special school event could be delighted with the opportunity to do so in the future, and this could turn around that person's feelings of frustration.
At American Agents Alliance, we understand the challenges you face as you manage an insurance agency. Contact us to see how we can help your agency grow.