Do you recognize yourself in this list? If so, consider whether a minor change in habits could make a major difference in productivity. The goal is not to change your personality, but to recognize how perceptions can differ from reality and work with your staff more effectively.

The “Mental Telepathy” agent assumes that what is in his head must be in staffs heads, too. He gets frustrated when his staff cant read his mind.

Suggestions: Establish and follow communication procedures: dictation, voice mail, e-mail. Regular staff meetings also promote communication. Develop your mind reading abilities by working with clients and making sales.

The “Dump and Run” agent shows up in the office, explains 8 hours of work in 21/2 minutes, and then promptly disappears before staff can ask any questions or get clarification; expects work to be completed when she returns.

Suggestions: Recognize that staff members need some of your time in order to be able to do their jobs. Establish a system for communication; spend five minutes allowing staff to clarify assignments. Try a routine schedule of “checking in” phone calls. Staff meetings will also provide communication opportunities.

The “Perfectionist” agent is so caught up in everything being perfect; there is no room for mistakesEVER! That rule only applies to staff, however.

Suggestions: Stop trying to find the perfect assistant; none exist. Recognize that mistakes will be made and turn them into learning experiences instead of stress-inducing ones. Lighten up, let the staff be human, and concentrate on making perfect sales calls.

The “Sticky Fingers” agent must maintain control of every aspect of the business; no task is complete unless the agent is involved on some level. The agent delegates to staff, but then micro-manages every aspect of the assignment. No one can do the task as well as this agent.

Suggestions: Set up a procedure for staff to report on the progress of their assignments on a regular basis. Remember that you get paid to sell life insurance; you pay your staff to run your office. Trust them to do their jobs, let them handle the administrative details.

The “Chameleon” agent wants to do any other job in the office except be the agent. Constantly assuming the role of marketer, service associate, receptionist, office manager, repair technician, etc.

Suggestions: Remember what you are getting paid to do; remember what you pay your staff to do. Spend your time strictly on income generating activities, such as making phone calls.

The “Child” agent must be baby-sat or “managed” 24/7 and will not stay focused on a task without constant monitoring. The agent may insist a staff member sit with them as they make calls.

Suggestions: Empower staff to handle you like a child; allow them to be firm with you as they remind you of what needs to be done. Direct your primary assistant to create a daily to-do list for you to follow, based on delegating your own tasks. Use a work/reward system: “You can go play golf after you make those phone calls.”

The “Black Hole” agent. Anything and everything that this agent touches mysteriously disappears.

Suggestions: Do not ever touch an original document. You can work from copies as needed; the originals should remain under your staffs watchful eyes. Now, go ask for another copy of your call list, and get on the phone.

Darla Bean


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, November 11, 2002. Copyright 2002 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.