30 Oct The Byars|Wright employee development process and why it starts on day one
By Andy Byars, CIC, Vice-President
What are the methods used in employee development? Who’s responsible for this development? Why is it important?
These are questions just about every business owner eventually asks themselves, and at Byars|Wright, we’ve developed a process that we believe allows our employees to be the best they can be.
Why employee development starts on day one
Our hiring strategy keeps employee development in mind because we know that it is an important piece of the puzzle for an employee’s success and happiness here. At Byars|Wright, we believe employee development begins on day one and never ends. We also believe that the leaders within our agency must make a valiant effort to ensure every team member is given the opportunity and the resources to continue to grow both personally and professionally.
Creating a detailed employee onboarding process
We begin developing our employees on their very first day with us. Through our detailed onboarding process, they know exactly what they’re going to learn and when they’re going to learn it. Not only does this relieve that sense of frustration and anxiety a new employee can feel at a new job, but it also helps them get over that learning curve at a much quicker pace.
During this process, they’re not only going to learn everything they need to know about their role within the company, but they’re going to learn much more, including everyone else’s role, our agency culture, and what we mean when we say “Relationships Matter”. This way, they know who to go to and how to handle any situation, which ultimately enables our company to function better as a team.
Establishing a mentorship program
In addition to our onboarding process, we recently implemented a mentorship program. If a new hire is in sales, then they’ll shadow a member of the sales team. If it’s a service role they’re in, they’ll shadow members of our service team. No matter what role they’re in, they get to see how their mentor works on a daily basis.
Not only can they watch and take notes on how their mentor executes specific tasks or handles certain situations, but they can also lean on their mentor and know they have someone to go to with any questions.
What’s great is that our entire team is happy to be a part of the mentorship program. Everyone is always willing to jump in and help provide that guidance that a new employee needs. I contribute this to the team atmosphere we’ve created at Byars|Wright, and I believe this atmosphere helps tremendously because no one feels burdened by doing it.
Continued employee development and growth
There are quite a few things we do as far as continued development and growth of employees. We take every opportunity we can to keep our employees up to date on the industry and teach them new trends or techniques that will ultimately benefit our clients.
We frequently have “Lunch and Learns” within the organizations for both our sales and service teams. The sales team has a weekly meeting where they learn collective focus on sales strategy and share experiences. This weekly meeting keeps everyone up to date on trends in the industry and markets. Our service team has a live link where they can submit topics for discussion or ask questions to be addressed in the Lunch & Learn so that everyone may benefit from the answers. Sometimes, we’ll use these Lunch & Learns for other events such as CPR training. All of our offices completed CPR training and certification this Spring so that everyone is capable of responding to a dire situation and can use that valuable training in other areas of their lives outside of work.
We also encourage our employees to do continuing education. If there’s an industry-specific class or designation they want to take, then we want them to do that. We give them the flexibility to go after whatever they’re interested in that they think will be of benefit to them and our clients. This year, we had three employees earn their CISR ELITE designation (not a small feat) and another employee earn her Small Business Coverage Specialist designation after passing the test with an impressive 92/100! We’re proud of these accomplishments and many more like them from other team members. We’re made even more proud by the fact that each feat was a result of the employee’s desire to tackle these challenges.
Earlier this year we sent three of our Operations Team Members to Agency Nation’s ELEVATE conference. The event provided experts, motivational speakers, and industry thought leaders to discuss a range of insurance topics and industry trends, but the conference focused on how these things can affect or benefit independent insurance agencies specifically. Our team brought back relevant information and ideas that we’ve implemented since then.
We’re also involved in conferences and events within the insurance industry. Whether on the newest trends in technology in the industry, or insurance coverage for an emerging market, we encourage our employees to attend.
As a member of the AIIA or “Big I”, we have easy access to many educational events in our area. During this summer, our Personal Lines Department attended Auto Owner’s Flood School at the Big I and a few of our Producers attended the Young Agent’s Conference to hear from many different speakers and other insurance professionals.
We’re constantly striving to better our team and our processes. If there’s something that we can do better or more efficiently, we’re definitely going to explore that and encourage our team to be a part of it.
The benefits of employee development
There are endless benefits to going about employee development the way we do here at Byars|Wright. For one, it helps to create that team atmosphere, which can become difficult as a company grows larger. With the way we’ve structured our onboarding process, everyone ends up developing a relationship with each other, which significantly benefits the chemistry of the team, the new employee’s assimilation, and the organization as a whole.
We share our knowledge and growth together. That shared knowledge is extremely valuable and important for a cohesive workforce. Our team members are constantly bringing new ideas to the table and voluntarily sharing things they’ve learned or found beneficial, such as apps or platforms they can use at work or at home to be more efficient.
Anytime you can develop employees and allow them to feel more comfortable in their role while giving them the ability as well as the flexibility to continue to grow, they’re going to be much happier. The last thing you want is for your employees to think that all they can do is come do their job and not have the ability to learn and grow professionally.
As leaders of our family-owned business, we must continue to give our team the tools, the resources, and the ability to improve both at a personal and professional level.
Developing employees and better serving our clients
Of course, when it comes to clients, the more knowledgeable our team members, the better they’re going to be able to serve our clients. I think it also helps from a communication standpoint and trusting us to continue to learn and grow. We want our clients to know that we’re a company that’s investing in our employees, their continued education, and their growth.
We’re a company that believes relationships matter. All relationships – inside and out.
Speaking on behalf of the leadership here at Byars|Wright, I can tell you that we truly want our employees to be the absolute best they can be.
Byars|Wright is a locally owned and operated independent insurance agency with five offices in the greater Birmingham area – including Jasper, Gardendale, Homewood, Alabaster, and Cullman – that has developed into a major provider of commercial and personal insurance. Since 1946, the agency has expanded its scope of business and delivers a wide-range of insurance products with quality coverage at competitive prices. Byars|Wright has been designated a Best Practices Agency by the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America and was also named “Best Companies to Work For in Alabama” by Business Alabama in 2016, 2017, 2018. 2019. We Build People, Protect Relationships. Byars|Wright is Where Relationships Matter.