I am not someone who spends most of my life involved in meetings. There are good reasons for this, among which is the fact that I am a somewhat antisocial person who can only spend so much time around most people before wanting a place to hide so I can read and write to myself. Yet today I managed to find myself in five meetings, about three different subjects, and if I managed to enjoy much of the conversation I have to say that it would not have been the day that I would have planned for myself. I get the feeling that the person responsible for running most of those meetings would have preferred not to have had meetings as well but they were requested of him and thus were requested of me as well. I normally spend this day of the week engaged in different activities–mainly processing commissions for one of the companies I work with. As I process this company’s commissions every fifth day of the week, there is a certain pattern and a certain rhythm to it, and between meetings I would pull the statements so as to prepare myself for when I get the chance to process the commissions, likely tomorrow after I run some errands.
At any rate, it was worth pondering why it was that this day of meetings was not a total waste even if there were many things I would have preferred to be doing than draining my work laptop while waiting for one group of managers after another to show up to talk about comp plans for their agents. Still, the meetings were definitely informative. For one, those managers who knew me were able to joke around with me, which always makes the time go better. Some people did not know that I was still around even if I am far from where the agents are located. This is perhaps a trivial sort of information to share, but it is certainly enjoyable. If meetings do nothing more than allow people to get to know each other better and listen to concerns, then they are not useless, as such things have always been important for political reasons. And if I was not the person conveying the information in the meetings, it was still worthwhile to share some lighthearted and witty banter to make things work out better, something that I feel comfortable about providing to any social occasion.
The most interesting takeaways, though, involved the concerns that the sales managers had when it came to translating the legalese of the comp plan into something that their agents would understand and that would not end up frustrating or upsetting them. Framing expectations properly can be a difficult task, and that is certainly true when it comes to money. For example, it can be difficult to properly communicate with someone that if they get money on a card that they will have to pay taxes on that later on and that will make their check smaller. Likewise, it can be difficult to frame a true-up as not being a bonus, and helping people not spend money that they have not yet made. Letting people know of the importance of writing good business so as to preserve a good placement rate and persistency also attracted a lot of comments from the sales managers about their current and past agents and their various worthwhile or lamentable sales practices, all of which was told and listened to in good humor. Helping the managers to better understand how to communicate things with their employees is definitely useful.
There were some takeaways, that would lead to further work on the part of my department, though. For example, it was necessary between the first and second meeting to update the comp plan with tables that showed the types of insurance that were being sold. Perhaps most useful, though, was finding out that medicare agents were having to do customer service duty on their main line and were being dinged for it on their conversion percentage. This was not something that our department had been aware of, and if it turns out that the line in question does not have any paid calls going into it things will likely be changed, albeit quietly. When one gives a meeting to inform others and manages to learn something useful that would otherwise not be communicated to us given our remoteness from the sales processes, that is always something that I appreciate. Perhaps not everyone would appreciate such learning opportunities, but I consider them to be among the most worthwhile things about meetings at all. For if one only gave out information and never took it in, how would one be able to do things better?