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Promoting Success in a Failing Economy

One thing's for certain about our current economy: it's forcing employers across the nation to make some extraordinarily difficult personnel decisions. Who stays? Who...
May 4, 2009

By Sean Neumayer

One thing's for certain about our current economy: it's forcing employers across the nation to make some extraordinarily difficult personnel decisions. Who stays? Who goes?

Based on the feedback I'm getting from clients, the need for frank management advice and expert employee placement solutions has never been greater.

In Boston, Massachusetts, insurance agency owner and manager Jill H. had trouble sleeping most nights. With sales down and bills mounting, she knew she needed to make cuts to her staff - and do so quickly. But it wasn't just the unpleasant act of terminating workers that worried her. It was trying to decide who had the least and who had the most potential to grow the business.

She found answers to her questions by having key staff members complete The Omnia Profile, a behavioral assessment. First introduced as primarily a hiring tool, it's now also used to project an existing employee's ability to assume new responsibilities, think independently and accept challenges. Based on psychometrics, a field of study concerned with educational and psychological measurement, the Profile, in its simplest form, compares an employee's typical work approach to management's everyday needs.

With results and ratings of each staffer in hand, Jill has started the painstaking process of downsizing her staff. Sustaining her, however, is the knowledge that she's keeping those best able to boost the success of her agency both now and in the future.

Then there's Bill W., my longstanding client who oversees a medium-sized insurance company in Jacksonville, Florida. He's already downsized from 15 to 10 CSRs and, understandably, needs to get as much production as possible from each one of them.

Drawing from the results of Profiles completed recently by his CSRs, Bill needs only to read the motivational tips built into each assessment and put them into practice:

"Beth shows some potential for sales, but may fear she is imposing on others by aggressively promoting products.  Tell her selling is an extension of customer service and helps others mitigate possible risks, especially when it comes to health insurance. Show her how to make friendly suggestions, but still push hard for a commitment."

"Todd seems to need very clear direction. The more familiar he is with a process, the more effective he can be. Role-play with him so he is prepared to address virtually any problem or question a client may ask."

With the knowledge gained from his CSR's personal Profile or "instruction manual," Bill knows exactly what he needs to do and say to maximize his remaining CSRs' performance.

Some clients swear that behavioral assessments can also help ease workplace stress that comes from simply trying to survive in a tough recession. Mike D., for example, owns a large Las Vegas agency. He's looking to transfer the right person into an open CSR slot and grow his commercial side. The problem is this CSR would need to put up with a producer who's always been, in Mike's own words, "successful but demanding." And he seems to have grown even more so since the start of the recession.

Mike desperately needed to know who, among his existing staff, could handle the behavioral quirks of a bold, bigger-than-life sales personality, so he asked his hard-to-please producer and a select number of potential CSRs to complete the Omnia Profile. Within hours Mike had eye-opening information about all of them which he then used to narrow the field of candidates, pose relevant questions, and ultimately offer the job to the CSR least likely to clash with the producer.

The negative effects of layoffs, skeleton crews, and underlying stress are far-reaching and impact each one of us differently. Because of this, using all available tools to help navigate through our economic nightmare is critical. Delving more deeply into the personality of employees is likely an undertaking you never expected - or even wanted. But it's what will help you maximize performances, make better choices and ultimately move forward in what is certain to be an uncharted and strikingly different post-recession business world.

About the author: Sean Neumayer is a senior consultant for The Omnia Group, Inc. A popular seminar speaker, he also conducts workshops, facilitates training sessions, and advises managers on how to successfully hire, retain and motivate employees.

PIA members receive a free OMNIA Profile® when they start to use Omnia's services. Contact Sean at (800) 525-7117, ext 242 or sneumayer@omniagroup.com, or visit http://www.omniagroup.com/ and tell them you're a PIA member.

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