Working With Staff: Common Practice Management Scenarios
No matter what stage your practice is in–even if you are just now contemplating whether to hire your first employee–understanding how differing management styles and staff situations can be accommodated gives you an advantage in your role as an employer.
To work effectively with your staff, the key is systematic communication, no matter whether youre running a business with 20 people or sharing a part-time assistant.
The following are common situations that we have addressed in our organization. Each one illustrates a different kind of situation that can probably be found in any agency across the country.
Too Many Masters. The agent has a partner or junior agent working with him; both producers have different styles of communication and delegation. They also have different ways of doing business, since the junior agent started three years ago and the primary agent started before the advent of personal computers.
The administrative staff struggles with conflicting priorities, since both producers delegate their tasks ASAP. No guidelines are in place to help the administrative assistants determine what to do first.
Internal communication systems and tools have been implemented, but are not used by everyone. One agent leaves voice mail messages; the other leaves sticky notes, and consequently, the admin staff is never sure they are getting all of their assignments.
Suggestions: The primary agent or business owner should designate one method to communicate between producers and administrative assistants, and mandate that everyone will use this method. Computerized methods can be effective even for agents who predate the computer age; their assistants can do the actual computer work.
The primary agent also should establish guidelines for the administrative staff to follow in prioritizing their workloads. It is vital that these guidelines are clearly communicated to everyone in the operation.
Bottom Line: By communicating expectations and following established guidelines–especially the designated communication method–agents and staff can work more efficiently together and tasks will not fall through the cracks.
Dueling Divas. In this situation, the agent has a loyal staff member who has been his office manager for 10 years. This employee resists change and is not open to new ideas, technology or business practices. The agent also has another employee dedicated to client service who has been with him for one year.
The service associate, who reports to the office manager, is very organized, displays leadership characteristics and is enthusiastic about implementing procedures to improve operational efficiency. Whenever the service associate tries to suggest a new idea, the office manager rejects it, saying she knows what the agent likes, and he wont like this.