It’s common to hear companies say that people are their most important asset. But it’s really only true if there is action to prove it, which means providing clear direction for your team and giving them room for development and movement. Independent brokerages need an overhaul in this area, swapping out age-old processes and replacing them with fresh, intentional actions. I’ll outline some ideas for improving internal development.

Defining your client experience. Every well-run company starts with a vision. Good organization then also requires a clear picture of internal and client interactions, which includes defining roles and responsibilities and creating career paths. Helping your people evolve plays a critical role in helping the agency evolve.

First, working with your team, describe in detail what you want buyers to experience when they encounter your company. Think about those prospects interacting with your marketing efforts, and going through your sales process, and then what it’s like for them when they become clients.

• What thoughts do you hope they have?

• What feelings should be evoked?

• What action do you want them to take?

• How do your sales people and account management team interact with them? Do you have processes or random activity? Is there a guiding game plan or a lack of communication?

Next, it’s time to begin defining individual roles and responsibilities that best lead to successful delivery of the vision. Break it down by what you want to see, not what you have in place today, or what you feel you can achieve with your current talent pool. Create your ideal scenario.

These roles will likely include responsibilities not everyone will be ready for at first. No worries — just document the needed skills and create a plan to fill in those gaps with education.

Creating the career path

What you’ve now created is the start to a career path within your own company. Give people the challenges, accountability, and opportunity to contribute they crave. Train your team, and move them up. Hiring from the outside is not always the best answer.

Make your most exciting new-hire opportunities the receptionist position, account admin, or sales coordinator. Instead of seeing these as dead-end jobs, view them as get-to-know-each-other jobs. Hire with the intent that this is simply the starting point, and you expect them to learn the company and the business, improve their skills, and grow into another position.

Wanting someone to perfect a job and stay there is not healthy for the individual or the company. Stagnant employees who are merely trading hours for a paycheck exude mediocrity, both internally and to your clients. However, growth and action-oriented employees are moneymakers with their ideas and influential enthusiasm.

The days of hiring cookie-cutter employees and plugging them into a years-old system are over. People want meaningful work in a positive, growth-oriented environment where they can continuously develop and contribute to something larger than the pile of work on their desks.

Keneipp is a partner and coach at Q4intelligence in the Seattle area. Reach her at wendy@q4intel.com.

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