I knew what I ‘did,’ but never really thought about the ‘why.’

In many cases, businesses/ employees have no idea ‘why’ they do what they do. I knew what I ‘did,’ but never really thought about the ‘why.’

Over the last few years, I really wondered ‘why’ I was  in business.  It had to be about more than just selling insurance.  I sat down and thought about what I specifically did that made me feel fulfilled.  A few things really came to mind, and I was able to put these down into a couple of categories.

Kimberly BrustFirst, the reason I get up every morning before the sun is for my family.  I want to be able to provide financially, have the freedom to be a mom and show up at school events and provide an education that will ensure their future success.

The second thing I have always strived for is education.  To provide an education and continue to learn on a daily basis for both myself and my children.

These two things were at the core of my being.  I wondered how that translated into business, because in essence, I am the business.  Much of why I own my own business is not  because of the money, freedom or prestige.  My fulfillment comes from being able to provide flexibility for team members to be parents and provide educational opportunities.  I have always done these things; however, once I recognized it, I wrote it down as part of the core values of my business.

Having this in writing also helped me create my vision and mission statements that were consistent with what I wanted the business to be. Putting this into words for my business has helped me in creating a branding strategy and a marketing plan.  Not to mention, I also use these concepts when we talk to our clients, train my team and decide which community service events to participate in. Having a clear focus will create a clear brand identity for your business.

‘Why’ is the reason….What is yours?

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Don’t be afraid to ask for help …

What do leaders do?  What are our job duties?

When I first started, my job was sales.  Talk to potential clients and close deals.  I was good at it.  Successful even.  I was growing my business at a rapid pace. But then times changed and I needed to hire team members to help me.

What did I know about being a leader?  I had always just led myself.

But, that was 28 years ago.  Now I have a team of 8 people.  There were times that I struggled and wondered why team members could not do what I did…. Why my business seemed stagnant.  Growth was slow, at best.

It has only been recently that I realized I needed to focus on three things and three things only:

  • Planning, short and long term
  • Driving the results of my business
  • Coaching and training my team

Creating a BuzzWhen I look at what I do every day, month, quarter and annually, I ask “does that fit in the one of the three categories?”  If so, where?

As an entrepreneur, you must be high performing and motivated.  You have a skill set that serves you and your business well.  But with growth we are required to do more and learn more. Putting first things first may be uncomfortable.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Look to others that may be doing successfully and ask for their help.

Help can come in many different ways.  Paid assistance with a coach,  retired volunteers through non-profit organizations, or peer-to-peer assistance.  Wherever you can find help, reach out and ask.

You and your business will thank you.

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Can Your New Team Members Be Coached?

In hiring new team members, one of the things you need to look for is: can they be coached?

Coaching will bring out the best in your team.  Your investment in this time will bring you rewards you cannot imagine.

Some of the first lessons I coach are about time and focus.

  • You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. (If you are not spending time with people that want to be successful, you will be carrying an anchor.)
  • 15 minutes early is on time, on time is late and late is unacceptable. (This reminds team members that time is valuable: yours and mine. Additionally, it always take a few minutes to get your head in the game and transition from what you were last doing.)
  • First seek to understand then be understood. (Ask questions.  If you are the only one talking you are not learning or gaining clarity.)
  • Carry a journal with you at all times. You never know when someone is going to say something that is valuable.  Write it down. Take notes.
  • Give more than expected and someday you will receive more than you deserve. (People recognized when you are doing more than required, even when no one says anything.)

This is a start. While it might seem like most of these should already be understood, you will be surprised how many people need to hear this.

Set up a coaching schedule in your office.  Concentrate on the strengths that your team member already has and work to maximize them.  The rewards will be astonishing.

For more information, contact me at, kim@creating-a-buzz.com

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A Potential Candidate was Found. What Next?

Part VI – Continuing in my series of how my systems changed and how my process developed…

Finally!  We found a potential candidate, but in order to find out if we really have a good understanding of the candidate, we ask for references:

  • 2 previous employers
  • 2 previous clients
  • 2 previous team members

Finding Job CandidatesWe ask that they contact the references before they submit the names to us to let them know we will be calling.  When we call, we explain we want the candidate to thrive in the position we have here and just want to make sure that will be the case.

The first question we ask is: tell us 3-4 adjectives that describe the candidate.  This really gives us an idea of the impression this person left at their last position.  In my experience, we found that the adjectives were very much in line with hungry, humble and smart when it is the right person.

By asking for two references in each category it increases our chances of talking to at least one.

Then, lastly, we ask for a background check and we do a social media check.

After all this is said and done, we will make an offer.

As a small business, it is imperative that we continue to find great team members.  However, as an entrepreneur, we never truly have a process for hiring.  The key is to have clarity about what you need.  Having a job description and qualities that create a successful team member will significantly cut down on the time you will need to spend looking, interviewing and hiring.

Please let me know if you need assistance with creating your process.  You may contact me via Email: kim@creating-a-buzz.com or by Phone: (727) 919-1429

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My Job Description

Part V – Team Members…Developing Systems to Find the Best!

Job Description

Team Member

(Revised 6/2016)

Kimberly BrustThis is considered to be a classification and recruiting tool. It is not intended to limit the scope of work.

Job Purpose:

To become a team member for the Kimberly M. Brust Insurance Agency Inc. To learn how to be part of a high achieving, motivated, and passionate team.  Entrepreneurial candidates will learn from the inside what it means to grow a business through direct contact with leadership and clients. Will also learn what it means to set goals and achieve them.

Candidates should possess:

  • An innate sense of professionalism
  • Be able to adjust oral communication to fit the conversation
  • Be able to demonstrate and use active listening
  • Able to admit mistakes and ask for help
  • Demonstrate team work
  • Passionate about assisting clients protect their assets
  • Professional in all types of communication
  • Ability to manage time
  • Adhere to the highest level of integrity
  • Desire to learn
  • Be a problem solver
  • Understands individual responsibility when being part of a team

Training:

In order to be successful, team members would be required to comply with all company, state and federal requirements (licenses) and keep them in good order throughout employment.  Sales team members are required to be able to obtain at least a 440 and a 215 license. Service team members are required to have at least a 440 license. Receptionist is not required to have a state license. (additional agreements/licenses to be determined by agent as needed for staffing.)

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Team Interview

Part IV – Team Members…Developing Systems to Find the Best!

The next step in the process is the team interview.  We totally dispensed with the phone interview, as someone had seen the person in action.  They had reached out for the opportunity, not because they had to but because they wanted to.

Using Patrick Lencioni’s book “The Ideal Team Member,” we developed questions to identify the three characteristics he described: Hungry, Humble and Smart.

After each interview, the team would debrief to see if the candidate met the criteria.  If Creating a Buzzthere was a category that we felt unsure of, the next interview would really focus on those questions that would help us determine the fit. If they were not a fit, we would send an email thanking them for their time.

The next interview would be held in an offsite location.  I chose a busy restaurant, early in the morning to see how the person handled the pressure of an interview in a chaotic location. We would again ask questions using the three topics but really focused on an area that the team was not clear on.

As part of this offsite interview, I would also share my job description.  It is the only job description I have, even though I have 4 different positions in my office. (See My Job Description)

Going through this process significantly reduced the amount of time we spent to find our next candidate.  It also helped us with clarity around what we were really looking for.

Referrals> interview questions with specific focus on traits> on and off site interviews> References.

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Where do I find candidates for my business?

Part III – Team Members…Developing Systems to Find the Best!

creating a buzzContinuing in my series of how my systems changed and how my process developed, the next step seemed a bit more daunting.  Where would I find candidates?  How would I let them know of my opportunity?  I just could not take that much time away from my business to interview people that weren’t really interested in the opportunity.  They were only talking to me because unemployment said they had to….

In sales, our best clients come from referrals.  That made me think about using referrals for finding candidates.

I put together a business card and gave them to my team and said if you ever come across someone that you think would be a great team member, please give them this card and ask them to contact me.  I described the person I would be looking for. I told them that a great team member would be someone that you had a business contact with and the service was exceptional.  Think of places you go and people that provide service to you. When was the last time you were blown away.

This did two things:

  1.  Defined the candidate with clarity
  2.  Gave the team the opportunity to have control over the next team member.

I was sure that they would want someone as extraordinary as they were.

I was also reminded of what a fellow business woman had told me: “Never hire someone that isn’t already working.”  That seemed like good advice.  The candidate that we needed would take a job and do their best, even if it was not the career they wanted.  We would have the opportunity to see them in action!

This could lead to a great team member.

(The business card would have the standard info on one side, but on the back it would say “Thank You for the extraordinary service you provided me today. I am always looking for team members like you in my office. I look forward to discussing the exciting opportunities that working with my team could offer.)

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Finding Inspiration

Part II – Team Members…Developing Systems to Find the Best!

Continuing in my series of how my systems changed and how my process developed, I asked myself, “where would I find inspiration”?  Well, as usual it came from a few sources.

INC Magazine gave me a greater understanding of what Millennials need and look for in a career.

*Patrick Lencioni ‘s book “The Ideal Team Member” reminded me of what I used to do to find candidates and helped me go back and improve that process. (I have a few team members that have been with me for greater than 10 years.)

*Some comments made from other small business people regarding their hiring process.

I put this all together and totally scraped my old process.

Here is what I developed:Kimberly Brust

First, I looked at the team members that I currently had and that had been with me for so long.  There was a commonality among them.  They were at some point a single mother with a desire to take care of their children to the best of their ability.  They wanted an opportunity to work and learn and ultimately make more money as they went along.

They were able to talk to people.  Their personalities were warm and caring.  They could talk to people and quickly make a connection.  This trait made clients feel that someone cared about them and that they were important.

Finally, as my team were all learners, they could be humble when they did not know the answer and ask for help.  In a business where we sell close to 100 different products, it is important to be able to ask for help, as no one can be an expert in all areas.

Reading Patrick Lencioni’s book reminded me of these traits.  He calls them Hungry, Humble and Smart.

Getting back to basics.   This was step one!

I started by using his interview questions and developing some of my own. I finally had a guide to find the type of person I knew I needed.

So where did I find inspiration?  Gaining clarity. Clarity in what you need and are looking for is key to success.

Creating a buzz……¯`•.¸¸.ஐ

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