Being busy isn’t the same as being successful – that’s the warning from one productivity specialist who says brokers may be harming their business by having an overly hectic schedule.
“Brokers are entrepreneurs who need to constantly build and maintain relationships as well as seek new relationships,” says Scott Stein, who has coached senior leaders within both Westpac and CBA.
“They also have to stay across all the various product and service offerings as well as the administration and paperwork processing behind the scenes, which can take up a lot of time and keep them constantly busy,” he continues. “This does create a sense of pride around always having something to do—as well as the illusion of potentially being successful because of this busyness.”
However, while a never-ending to-do list may give the appearance of success, Stein says there are actually some major risks associated with being constantly busy.
“One of the challenges around being too busy is that you don’t have the time to think strategically,” he tells Insurance Business. “This results in you often missing opportunities to identify shortcuts that will allow you to get more things done in less time.”
Stein used an everyday analogy to explain his point further, asking brokers to think of a time when they’ve been driving somewhere and an accident had caused a traffic jam.
“If you would have taken two minutes to find another route, you could have bypassed it and saved you time,” he says. “The same approach occurs when brokers are too busy at work. People get into the unconscious habit of just randomly doing tasks to fill their day – however, many of these tasks are not important, they are just time fillers. This results in a large loss of productive time which could have been spent on more important tasks or allowing time for family.”
An inability to recharge is also a significant challenge associated with being too busy, warns Stein.
“When people are busy all the time they start to lose their spark of enthusiasm,” he says. “When you do not take time to step off the work treadmill you can start to feel flat, which can often have the opposite impact on productivity.”
As most people can attest to, limited energy or enthusiasm makes tasks far harder to complete but it can also have a knock-on effect at home.
“One of the common complaints of the family of someone who is too busy is that they are always tired and don’t want to do the things that they normally would,” says Stein.
A third issue which often arises for brokers with an overly busy workload is that they have very little time to connect with clients and staff as well as family and friends.
“If you are constantly busy, when you interact with staff are you taking the time to listen and engage them, or do you fall into the pattern of just telling them what to do because it is quicker?” asks Stein.
If it’s the latter, Stein warns that it can create a culture of disconnect where staff feel like they’re objects rather than valued people that contribute to the company.
However, there is an alternative and Stein says there are some key ways in which brokers can maintain their successful business without such a heavy schedule.
“Identify the activities you shout not be doing,” he urges. “We often get into a habit of doing activities that are time fillers. They don’t add any value and often are not important. Start tracking when you get into this habit and stop doing the things that don’t matter.”
Taking time to recharge is also of utmost importance.
“This can be something as simple as taking a 15 minute walk outside in the fresh air to clear your head,” says Stein. “By moving around you can shift your energy and help to recharge and refocus.”
Stein also recommends brokers take time to schedule days off as well as holidays to recharge.
“Don’t wait until you have already burnt out!” he urges.
Finally, Stein says brokers must take the time to really connect with their employees and clients as well as their friends and family.
“Ask and show genuine interest in them as people - not just staff or customers,” he recommends. “Also make sure that you do the same at home. Turn your mobile phone off or put it on to the counter to keep you from constantly glancing to check your email. Your family will thank you.”