Accountability is more than just a buzzword. Workplaces that make accountability a priority see real gains — improved performance, employees who are more knowledgeable about their roles, and a workplace atmosphere where trust is valued and encouraged. That’s to the benefit of everyone in the workplace, and even more to the benefit of your clients; customers are better served by employees who are knowledgeable, performing at their peak, and comfortable in their workplace. But how can you implement better accountability mechanisms at your insurance agency? Take a look at some strategies you can use.
Clarify Policies and Expectations
Employees are more likely to make mistakes when they don’t fully understand what they’re expected to do, which can happen when an agency’s policies or expectations are unclear or inconsistent. Employees are also less likely to take accountability for those mistakes in an environment where they can’t point to clear expectations and consistent policies. After all, an employee who doesn’t understand what they’re supposed to do in a given situation may not feel they’re fully accountable for their mistakes.
So, a good way to encourage accountability is to remove any confusion. Set clear expectations and maintain consistent policies in your agency. Make sure that everyone is following the same policies. Not only will this encourage greater accountability, but it will also lead to fewer mistakes. The more consistent the policies and expectations are, the easier it is to follow the plan and avoid unfortunate mistakes.
Start From the Top
The best way to lead is by example, and you can’t expect your employees to hold themselves to a standard that you’re not also willing to abide by yourself. So start creating an atmosphere of accountability by holding yourself accountable for your own mistakes and missteps and be willing to discuss them openly.
It doesn’t undermine your authority to admit when you make a mistake. Instead, it sends the message that you’re confident enough in your authority to practice real accountability for everyone, including yourself. Those who look up to you for leadership will follow suit. Remember, one of the reasons that people avoid accountability has to do with fear of punitive consequences. Showing that you’re willing to take accountability also reassures employees that you understand how mistakes happen and you’ll be inclined to treat them fairly.
Give Employees What they Need
Clear expectations are important, but if your expectations are clear but unrealistic, you’re still not going to get the accountability or level of performance that you want from your employees.
As you’re setting goals and expectations for your team, take stock. Are you providing your employees with the tools they need to do the job correctly? Do they have enough time to complete projects without cutting corners? Are they receiving the support they need within the company? Don’t expect your employees to be able to accomplish everything with nothing. If you want accountability, make sure they have all the things they need to do the job correctly.
More accountability in your agency means fewer E&O claims, but you should still be insured against E&O troubles. The American Agents Alliance offers a comprehensive E&O program. To find out more, contact us.