I use a lot of analogies in my trainings. Most of these are either sports related or are more real life examples of situations that I have run into myself or have been told working with agents throughout the country.
The newest one that I have heard and been using is inspired by Mark Twain (we will come back to this later). One of the biggest issues that we see agents struggle with is prioritizing their tasks. In most agencies, there is a major difference in what the principal views as a priority and how the staff approaches their day to day responsibilities. To oversimplify, most principals are looking at the results. What is the retention, how many policies per client do we have, how much new revenue was generated, etc. Front line staff tend to count the tasks that they are completing, looking at their roles as more of a checklist. How many emails did I answer, how many calls did I make, how many suspense items did I complete. They also tend to look at the total number of tasks they have pending (how many emails in my inbox, open suspense items, etc.).
The problem is that the task based approach doesn’t take into account the importance of particular items and is more of a quantity over quality approach. This approach also tends to put off the tasks that may take more time or be out of the comfort zone of the employee. Not only does this tend to not drive desired results, it can also lead to tasks being completed well after they are due or would drive success. It can lead to complaints and unhappy customers fairly easily. It also leads to the feeling of being overwhelmed with tasks that you don’t want to accomplish and results in the “I’m too busy” excuse reducing motivation and increasing procrastination.
The best way to resolve this is to take those more difficult items off your plate first. Tackle them first thing and get them resolved. This opens up the day to handle the more routine tasks and creates a better feeling of satisfaction while creating a focus on results over volume of tasks completed leading to being more successful at hitting the goals set by the principal. It also leads to more client satisfaction thereby reducing complaints making us more effective and efficient at our jobs.
Bringing this back around to Mr. Twain. There are actually at least three versions of this quote that I’ve seen online. They are all similar but I think there are actually slightly different lessons in each one.
Version #1: “Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
This version identifies that if you take on the hardest task on your to do list, the rest of the day will be easier. I think this creates some inspiration to be able to get through the rest of the day knowing that nothing worse is coming.
Version #2: “If the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worse things that is going to happen to you all day long.”
I like this version, because it adds to the first in that the sense of satisfaction can actually lift you up to be able to perform at the top of your game.
Version #3: “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
This is my favorite version; not necessarily because the meaning is stronger, but I like the poetry in it and I like that it acknowledges that there isn’t always just only one tough thing to do in a day. But it still drives the point that instead of procrastinating and having that darn frog staring at you all day, just eat it (and the second one) and get on with your day!
So, get out there. Eat some frogs and make your day more about your results than your volume of tasks! If you need help or your staff needs help in time management and driving results over a task based approach, take a look at the services offered by Agency Performance Partners and contact me to learn more!