We recently hired two 24 year olds, Abby and Pierce. I believe the current term for this age group is Millennials. We have hired Millennials prior to this and things didn’t end well. Either we weren’t able to offer what they needed or they weren’t able to offer what we needed. I have decided to do things differently this time and to personally take an active role in their development. To actually act as a mentor and not just check in with their manager from time-to-time.
As an insurance brokerage everyone at Colley Insurance must be a licensed insurance broker before they can provide any advice to the public. This involves preparing for and writing an exam required by our regulatory body, The Registered Insurance Brokers of Ontario. Assisting with this preparation is where I have decided to help out. How hard could it be? I’ve been in the insurance business for 30 years. I’ve forgotten more than these young people know. Sadly, this turns out to be more of a comment on what I have forgotten than what they know.
Have you ever noticed that things which make perfect sense when you read them to yourself don’t always make the same sense when you read it out loud or try to explain it to someone? In my preparation for our sessions I would scan each chapter and highlight the areas that I thought were important or might be on the exam. When I would then review it out loud with Pierce and Abby I was stumbling over some of the information that I was sure I knew cold. There were even a couple times I tried to fake it by presenting an educated guess to them as fact. Have I said they’re smart? They would tilt their heads to one side and give me this quizzical look. Damn, I’ve been found out. I’d better be better prepared next time. Once again this process has made me more of a student than teacher.
Reviewing a textbook with someone is not teaching and it sure isn’t mentoring but it’s a start. To be considered a mentor there must be trust placed in the advisor that can only be earned over a prolonged period of time. I guess you could say I am a mentor in training. The other part of mentoring is sharing real life experiences. Some of that happens in the class room when I’m able to share actual claims that occurred or service issues and their outcome. I had no idea how many stories I have accumulated over the years directly relating to what ever topic we are covering at any particular time. By the eye-rolling and heavy sighs I can tell that Pierce and Abby sometimes wish I didn’t have quite so many stories.
I can get really quite worked up about the stories I tell. Some times to the point of wondering what I need all this stress for. It also reminds me that I’m still passionate about this business, that I still love learning about it, still negotiating the best deal for our clients and still fighting the good fight. Insurance is one of those businesses that people wouldn’t describe as sexy. When you ask someone how they got in the business they don’t usually tell you they were born to sell insurance and that they have never imagined doing anything else. It’s one of those businesses that it’s difficult to stand back at the end of the day and admire what you’ve accomplished. You face a lot of rejection and from time-to-time self doubt. This business also builds character, self confidence, empathy and resilience. You get to help people through some of the most challenging events of their lives. A career in insurance may not be something that people aspire to as young boys and girls but it can be extremely rewarding on many levels. Its funny how trying to engage two young people in the insurance business has actually ended up re-engaging me.