Do you remember all the mistakes you made as a new Agency owner and entrepreneur?
The 30,000 Agents in INSURANCE SOUP – the FREE Facebook group for Agents, Brokers, and Team Members remember a lot of theirs.
I sure as hell do. I made a TON of them as I am sure you did or are currently doing now.
When I got my Agency I came from outside the industry.
I was trained to do the job. If I am being totally honest with myself I probably did not take the training as seriously as I should have. Opened my doors with a lot of questions and far fewer answers.
My employees were fresh faced kids out of college in need of training, guidance, mentoring, coaching, and more.
I decided that the inexperienced route was a good one to take as I was starting with a fresh slate and bringing zero bad habits to the Agency.
Well not having ANYONE besides myself capable of doing anything self sufficiently I quickly became overwhelmed. How was I supposed to train and manage 3 people at once while also selling, networking, marketing, and budgeting the business?
Then it dawned on me – I needed someone experienced. One of my employees made a quick move from my shop and left me with a hole to plug… but at the same time helped me avoid not having to fire her as she did not take the role seriously.
Hitting the online classifieds I began pulling resumes of people looking for work that were both experienced in the industry and experienced with my carrier.
And then she appeared. Almost out of thin air. An angel from heaven. Was she there to save me?
A VERY experienced team member with over 12 years experience with the carrier I represented with a whole brag book of production numbers that would make any new business owner a little hot and bothered.
We didn’t click great during the interview but wow was she impressive. Something felt off. Just a gut feeling... but she knew the products, systems, technology – could slide right in and help us start making moves.
I made the decision to not only bring her in but to have her come on right out the gates as the office manager.
Her very first day she closed 4 households herself. I think we only had a couple days where we closed 4 households in a day as an OFFICE to that point
The days turned into a couple of weeks and we were humming along.
Sales were picking up and this woman was as advertised.
And then it happened.
Out of nowhere one of my other original employees called one morning and quit out of the blue.
I started the hiring process again.
My Rockstar began referring people she knew in the district that she knew weren’t happy in their Agencies that were also, according to her, rockstars.
During the month that I was hiring again the chemistry and feel in the office began to change.
My Rockstar was becoming very confident in the office. Almost too confident.
I think she picked up on my ignorance to a lot of the systems and products and knew she had the office by the neck.
She began becoming very authoritative and disrespectful. Began making jokes in front of my other employee about how much she knew compared to me. How SHE should be the Agent.
She started pushing my other employee around. She was outperforming him by quite a bit and knew way more than him too. Somehow he began to migrate from being a sales person to being this womans office lackey.
She would tell him to pick up the phones, get her faxes off the machine, would have him go grab her coffee… she deferred all her service work to him as “the office needed her to keep selling”
A couple of weeks later my other original employee quit. I learned a few days after he left that he couldn’t handle working with this “Rockstar” that was in his way and preventing his growth.
Something I should have picked up on but didn’t because I was turning a blind eye to it all because… well… production.
NOW…. NOW??? It was just ME… and the “Rockstar” that now had my Agency in a vice.
I quickly hired 2 new people. Probably too quickly. But as we trained the two of them it became even more evident.
With each snide comment about her abilities or joke about my lack of experience she was undermining my authority as the Agent and owner.
The two new employees got trained up and hit the floor but neither of them seemed too happy, excited, or driven.
They were not the people I interviewed.
I allowed the Rockstar to continue to perpetuate the poor environment because she was producing.
The new employees? They were not producing much. Did they suck?
All the while my emboldened Rockstar now began acting like she was my confidant and telling me about conversations that were taking place when I was not there or in my office.
I was not a big fan of the woman but she was keeping me in the loop on things I was unaware of and needed to know.
I decided at that point to begin circumventing my Rockstar and communicating directly with my other employees significantly more frequently.
They both told me they felt stifled and like this “Rockstar” was preventing them from really taking off.
She took more of the leads than the other two and I didn’t say boo about it. She was a closer.
But these new staff members needed reps… they needed confidence… they needed to know I had their back.
I redesigned my lead distribution to be equitable and wouldn’t you know it?
My noobs numbers started to rise and they were more upbeat, fun, and confident in the office.
My Rockstar was still in my ear about everything ugly she “heard” in the office and it was really starting to grind on me.
Then one day one of my other employees asked if he could talk privately with me. Of course I said yes and we headed into my office.
I learned that EVERY time I was not within earshot I was being crapped on by my Rockstar.
The same types of stuff she was telling me my staff were saying and doing… or not doing…
They were being told the exact same things about me… and none of it added up to them as they knew me very differently than she sold me.
I was furious – my “Rockstar” had been disrupting the whole office regardless of who I had there and was manipulating people to constantly be at odds or distrustful of one another.
But what the heck was I supposed to do? This woman was closing 40 households a month while my other 2 were each closing 10-15 a month.
I couldn’t afford to lose that kind of production. It would cream me and I was trying to earn a contract…
After some soul searching I decided to take my chances. I called her into my office and let her know I was aware of a lot of things that were being said behind my back and of a lot of things I was told that according to my other employees were never done or said….
She started getting very smart with me in what was originally a very calm conversation.
I fired her on the spot.
I went home that day scared. Very scared. I just lost 50-55% of my production with that move and had a couple of people who couldn’t even cover their seat.
They assured me they would step up and everything would be fine. That the Rockstar was the problem and things were going to get better.
I struggled to believe them but had no choice. I decided to not hire to replace right away as I needed a break from personalities and wanted to give the new kids a chance to shine.
Out of nowhere both my producers went from being 10-15 household producers a month to BOTH close 35-40 households EACH a month about 60 days later.
My Rockstar was completely replaced and my office was now doing the exact same numbers with $3500 a month less in payroll.
The victory was unexpected but tremendous.
Addition by subtraction.
Removing the Rockstar from my office saved me money, gave my noobs the confidence they needed to step up, and totally changed the culture of my office day to day.
From that moment on I decided a toxic employee had no home with me regardless of their talent level and from that day forward I have removed anyone that I have even suspected of being remotely cancerous to my culture and never look back.
Things continued to get better and better from there and my first year wound up being a million dollar premium year despite the first quarter being a pretty big disaster.
If you are holding on to a toxic Rockstar out of fear you need to cut them loose.
The damage theyre doing to your culture and other employees is immense and at best they are dealing with it and at worse they are underperforming due to it.
Cut the toxic staff from your Agency fast.
You know the saying….
Slow to hire… quick to fire.
Theyre wise words for a reason. Follow them and keep that culture positive and upbeat.
Rockstars are replaceable and theres a new one born every day.
Do not let ANYONE hold your Agency hostage because they are a Rockstar.
You win more that way.
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