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There are seven unusual things a great boss does, says Jeff Haden of Inc. magazine. Do you fit the profile?
  1. Reveal a little vulnerability. Don’t bring yourself into the ranks of the staff, but do ensure that employees feel like they have a special connection to you.
  2. Nudge and leave. Promote a goal without micromanaging the method of achieving it. In some cases, that includes throwing some wacky ideas on the table for rejection but stimulating conversation and creative juices in the process.
  3. Notice small details. Sometimes it’s more effective to notice something small someone has done than to make a huge deal over a big, but expected, achievement.
  4. Cut them a break. When the opportunity arises to make a federal case out of a mistake—great bosses don’t. Make sure the employee knows about an error; then, let the employee fix it.
  5. Give special access. Great bosses promote partnership between themselves and their employees by letting them in on a personal or professional interaction here or there.
  6. Toss in a compliment. Say something positive—even if it hasn’t been “earned.” As a result, you might create a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  7. Lend a hand. Even if you can’t solve an employee’s problem, you can listen and converse with compassion and respect for their humanity. You’ll be trusted by employees in a culture of generosity

It’s difficult to achieve a balance between the need for organizational hierarchy and the need for a human touch, and not every boss has the personal character to get there or maintain it. But those who do can expect great things from their organization.



Feeling like a Scrooge because your staff did a great job but you can’t reward them the way you want to?

Many managers want to show their appreciation to employees, but a big end-of-year bonus isn’t feasible. That’s OK, says a poll by benefits consulting firm Parago. Employees are pleasantly surprised with even a small token of your appreciation at the holidays, and most don’t expect anything, says Parago.

An online survey of more than 600 workers found that 69% don’t expect anything extra from their employers at the end of the year. More this year than last responded that they would appreciate even a small reward, with 61% saying just a $25 prepaid gift card would satisfy their expectations. Eighty-five percent said they’d be happy with $100 or less.

Experts caution, however, that such gifts should not replace performance incentives. “There’s no way the business succeeds without employees succeeding first, and it’s important to recognize that,” says Razor Suleman, founder and chairman of Achievers Corp. It’s also important that parties and gifts be tailored to the demographic of the staff. While some employees may enjoy holiday parties, for example, those with children at home may prefer some time off.

To make end-of-year gifts from management really count, tailor them to what employees say they want.



Competition for the skills of military veterans is up, and—while some Council member firms are positioning themselves as prime landing spots for such talent—no brokerages or agencies were ranked in the top 100 “military-friendly employers” in a recent G. I. Jobs list.
 
But that statistic could change next year. Numerous Council members are supporting the new Disabled Veterans Insurance Careers organization, www.dvic.us, whose mission is to train disabled vets in insurance sales. DVIC participants may find themselves moving into the spotlight as they become more active and successful at attracting skilled military personnel.

Two of our carrier partners made it into the top 10—USAA was No. 1 and Combined Insurance (a division of ACE) was No. 8. They have active recruiting programs that include postings on their websites, announcements on job websites targeted at military veterans, training, and online applications. They also don’t wait until the servicemen are separated from the military. Instead, they work with them through outreach programs and offer part-time jobs that can help build out their income while on active duty and that can travel with them when they are relocated.

Insurance agencies and brokerages that aren’t appealing to this talent pool may be missing a golden opportunity. There has been a substantial increase in employers nationwide saying they are actively recruiting military veterans, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey, with 29% reporting efforts in this area. That’s up nine percentage points from 2011.

When employers were asked how they hope to place vets, 30% said information technology positions were the target. Combined Insurance highlighted some of the most attractive skills that veterans tend to have, including time management skills, ambition, and discipline. Others in the industry have said that veterans tend to be equipped with engrained risk management skills, as well.



Logic tells us to focus on results, but a recent article saysthat a lust for demonstrable returns can waste lots ofpersonal, professional and financial capital.

A vigorous focus on outcome may be motivational, but it oftenstirs up a zeal for immediate gratification. That desire forfast results—demonstrable short-term returns—canrun innovation right out of the room and result insubstantial waste. How many businesses have you seen throw abig chunk of money and time into a project only to abandon itwhen short-term results were thin or roadblocks to progresswere encountered? Maybe you’re one of them.

In fact, innovation that“really moves the needle” takes a longtime—think five or six years, says Jerry Hage,co-director of University of Maryland’s Center forInnovation.

Those firms that have really successful products andprocesses identify problems staff or clients are having, makea wish-list of solutions, then devote the necessary resourcesto constructing or implementing those. It’s whatAT&T did at Bell Labs. It’s what the earlybrokerages and insurers did. It’s the way Apple soaredto the heights of the computer technology sector.

Really great ideas take resources, time and attention toproduce outcomes. The biggest game changers are the ones whomake their mark, pick their potential high-payoff projectscarefully and then push through the tough times in thepursuit of breakthroughs. They don’t try one thing thenanother, ditching projects that are only half-baked all thewhile wasting capital. In the end, their patience andendurance produce industry-changing results.



Numbers tell much more than most people expect. You can havea great management team, producers and client service staff,and still revenues and profits have decreased through nofault of your own. But do you truly understand your numbers?And, when faced with difficult realities, do you use numbersto help you make better business decisions?

Many agencies do not have a grasp of numbers and how to usethem effectively. Many brokerage leaders really don’tunderstand that the proper use of the numbers can make thedifference between financial success and failure. Or, at aminimum, they’re the tool to help your firm reach itspotential.

A budget is actually a flexible tool that management uses toachieve its strategic goals. That’s a pretty powerfulstatement.

Another way to look at a budget is as an action plan thattranslates your strategic goals and objectives intomeasureable quantities to allow you to make sound, fact-basedstrategic decisions. With these concepts in mind, how do youeffectively use your budget to make you a better leader?

Read more to find out.



You don’t have to be famous to beunforgettable.Thinkabout those in your professional past thatyou remembermostvividly. You never forget the manager andhisindiscriminateuse of racial slurs and ethnic stereotypesorthe colleaguewho helped shine your star even thoughyouworked in a verycompetitive environment. How about theseniorexecutive whocreated a compensation system that put himlaston the listfor bonuses?

How will you be remembered? Think before youanswer.Everypositive quality has an equally negativeinterpretation.Takea look at the following extremes and crafta plan tobecome amore positive, unforgettable you. Read on.



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