Almost every successful business, large or small, is dependent on having the right people in the right jobs at the right time. Equally important is ensuring that employees are focused, engaged and motivated.
Big companies have Human Resources professionals to help them select employees who both have the skills necessary to perform specific jobs and the potential to grow in the company.
So where does an agency owner or managing director get the same kind of support to build their winning team of professionals? What can they do to select employees who will grow agency profitability?
Interviewing is notoriously unreliable as a single selection tool. After all, we are all very good at saying we can do something. It is, however, far more powerful to demonstrate that we can do it and that we can do it in a particular environment.
At Burns & Wilcox, we have introduced assessment centers to select candidates for key positions such as underwriter/broker. Simply put, the assessment center brings in multiple candidates at the same time and asks them to participate in several exercises with the assistance of Burns & Wilcox coaches. The exercises are designed to simulate actual work tasks and work environment. In essence, we are asking candidates to show us what they can do in our environment and how they might work or fit with our current team members.
These assessment centers allow us to determine if and to what degree the candidates can demonstrate the necessary skills and attributes to fill not only the open position but to also succeed in our company.
For us, it is important that we select people who can do the job, have the skills and capability to rise in the company, and are a good fit with the driven sales culture at Burns & Wilcox. At the same time, the candidates have the opportunity to interact with current employees and to see first hand if the job and the company are right for them.
Although our centers are quite formal in design, you may adapt the concept to meet your needs. First, think about the open position or positions you are trying to fill. Then identify the key skills and attributes a candidate would need to succeed in the position and in your agency. Consider some of the key tasks associated with the position and create exercises that allow candidates to demonstrate how they might handle the task. And, finally, include existing staff in coaching or working with candidates to complete the tasks.
Remember, the most important and costly decision you make is in selecting employees for your team. If you select well, you will see a significant return on your investment. If you select badly, you will continue to expend money and resources with limited return and you may reduce the overall productivity of your team. We all want to be part of a winning team no one ever got out on a playing field to come in second. Spend the time and select carefully. In this competitive environment, you want every player on your winning team to be both highly valuable and highly valued.