By Michael C. Sayles
In decades past, people entered the insurance field and spent their entire career with one or two organizations. That scenario is increasingly unlikely since the revolution that spread through the industry in the 1990s.
Then, mergers combined with a fundamental restructuring of how insurers operate produced massive layoffs that put many long-time industry people out on the street for the first time in their career.
It was shocking to see insurance professionals–including good performers–being jettisoned much more often and more quickly than ever before. For some agency leaders, the shift served as a wake-up call that alerted them that they could easily be out of a job next year, next month or even next week.
Not everyone heeded the alarm, however. Many insurance professionals still cling to the natural human tendency to believe that the job theyre doing is so invaluable and that theyre doing it so well that they cant possibly be categorized as dispensable.
Well, think again. In todays brave new insurance world, no one is indispensable. Its a simple fact of life. The agency system and its environment are constantly evolving and doing so at a pace never before seen in the industry. And the likelihood that the pace of change will slow is nil.
So, you can sit back and wait for this wave of change to sweep over you and hope you manage to survive, or you can take proactive steps to stay in control of your career.
For those of you who are still feeling complacent, here are some questions you should answer. Do you really know where your company is goingand is that where you want to go? Is your career gaining or losing momentum? How well have you adjusted to the changes that occurred as your company morphed into its new way of operating during the recent revolution? Based on its current direction, how comfortable are you likely to be with the cultural changes that may occur as the company continues to evolve?
These are all questions that anyone in an agency management position needs to ask himself or herself soon. They speak to the heart of the question of whether where you are now is the right place for you.
In short, its time to do two things. First, take a long look in the mirror and realistically evaluate where your career stands right now and your potential with your current company. Next, decide what you want your future to be and what you need to do to get there.
For many people working in agency management, this may be the first time youve ever had to consider the questions that arise during such a self-examination. Until now, the idea of needing a Plan B may never have occurred to you.
But in todays insurance world, everyone needs a Plan B. And its better to prepare a Plan B now that you may never need than to wait around until the bad news comes and then start scrambling.
Here are the steps to take to be prepared for all potential eventualities in todays volatile insurance job market. Fortunately, some of these steps are things youre probably already doing as you work to excel in your current position.