Who Is On Your Agency’s Team?

Last week there were several news reports about ladies in their 90s receiving Master Degrees.  One such lady is Helen Small show graduated from University of Texas Dallas.  Here is an article on this amazing lady. http://tinyurl.com/29rrbhb.  So what do people like this have that others don’t?  Why do they keep learning when they could be doing leisurely things all day?  When working with agencies I hear a number of excuses related to learning.

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The excuses I hear most often are:

  • I am too old to learn computer stuff.
  • I am retiring in a couple of years and I am not learning anything new.
  • My accounts are different from everyone else’s in the agency and they won’t fit the system so I don’t need to learn it.
  • I can’t learn new things in a group setting.
  • I have been here a long time and I know too much for them to let me go if I don’t learn this.
  • If I learn more, I will have to do more.

Wow, are you surprised by these or have you heard them too?  I read somewhere recently that you can’t teach people who don’t want to learn.  And my experiences seem to prove this out.  I guess I just don’t get any of these excuses.  I loved school and I loved to read.  I was an only child until I was ten.  I lived in neighborhoods that didn’t seem to have any other children.  So my social life was at school.  Good grades were expected by my parents, no excuses.  Books could take me anywhere in the world.  One of my grandmothers cleaned houses for wealthy people in Lubbock, TX.  In the summer when I stayed with her I would get to sit quietly in the libraries of these houses and look at books.  One seemed to have every copy of National Geographic Magazine ever published.  I loved going to this house and the time I got to spend with these magazines.  I believe reading fueled my desire to travel.  I usually have 3-4 books in progress at all times.

The learning gene seems firmly implanted to this day.  When I am working with an agency and I hear one of these excuses I often just look at the individual speaking.  The too old one just doesn’t get any traction at all.  I have yet to find an account that could not be managed in the system.  In a very few cases, some additional resource are needed to support multi-location billing where a system doesn’t handle this.

The issue about learning new things in a group setting is really puzzling.  Didn’t you go to school?  The last time I checked, school is a group setting unless you are home schooled or have a private tutor.    I know a number of home schooled people and they are well adjusted and learn well in group settings.  So how did you get here?

Those individuals that think they know too much or are too valuable to be let go just may be in for a big surprise.  When profits are down and agencies do restructure, they just may decide that others know enough to take over your work.  I believe these individuals live in a vacuum.  They ignore the fact that there are others in the agency that do know what you know.  More than once I have seen staff step up and learn very quickly when a disagreeable individual or someone who thinks only they can do this work is gone.  Other staff is often relieved when this person is gone and happy to do the work.  I have seen a total shift in the attitude of the office staff to one of a positive, can do atmosphere.

I read an article several years ago about the use PCs in the insurance industry.  This was before insurance carriers had PCs on desktops.  The article advised insurance professionals that if they wanted to succeed in the future, they had better purchase a PC for home and learn how to use it.  How true this became.  In the mid 90s I managed a general agency that employed several underwriters that had previously worked at carriers.  We were a PC shop.  A couple of these underwriters had not previously used a PC and doing so was a challenge for them.  However, they each took on the challenge and learned fast and well.  They were both over 55 at the time.

Some days our work is not particularly challenging.  But others can challenge you beyond anything you could imagine.  I believe this will only continue to increase as our world continues to become more integrated and complicated.  I do like that in our more connected world, we can reach out to others for information and help.

What are your challenges in learning?  What are your tips to learning new technology?  What are your tips to learning new insurance information?

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