With another year well underway, you likely have a to-do list that's already a mile long and are eager to check those items off. But have you taken a step back to incorporate learnings from last year's successes and challenges?

Even if you’ve already started to tackle projects and tasks, there's still time to reflect and plan with your team. As they say, the key is not spending time but in investing it. If you're ready to make the most of the calm before the storm we call ‘busy season,’ follow our top tips below.

Start with a retrospective

At a high level, a retrospective (or retro) allows teams to reflect on a project after they wrap it up. We recommend doing a retro after each quarter and after major projects, regardless of whether the outcome was negative or positive. They’re a no-judgment and no-blame space that involves all team members sharing their perspectives, experiences, and ideas.

It's also a great time to incorporate your customers’ experience and feedback. Take time to recognize areas of opportunities for your team to respond to the ever-changing benefits landscape and prioritize growth smarter than in previous years. Business leaders should also create space for new ideas from team members. Even if you don’t put all of the ideas into practice, this exercise can spark conversations that shift the status quo. 

Get updated and organized

There's nothing more satisfying (and efficient) than starting the year knowing your book of business and internal systems are up to date. For brokers, this means making sure your files and agency management systems (AMS) reflect what was sold and implemented after the previous year’s marketing events and renewals.

Check out how the team at Axion streamlined their renewal process.

Also, consider your team’s feedback—do they have the right resources, tools, and technology? Are processes, workflows, and responsibilities transparent? Aligning everyone with expectations and goals is a great way to start any quarter.

Interested in using one platform to manage your book of business and benefits placement workflow? Talk to our team.

Develop a data-informed perspective

Experience and intuition are two great inputs to planning, especially for industry veterans—but the truth is that nothing can replace the value of data.

However, most brokers can't easily access data like pending revenue or coverage information within their AMS. Without this data, your ability to make decisive, strategic decisions that affect your team's performance is minimal. While you may not be armed this quarter with valuable data, you can put a plan in motion to get this data. It's never too late to improve your data collection process.

Find out how you can access data to make better business decisions for your brokerage.

Set team goals that drive success

As you think about what success looks like, ensure you’re setting goals and targets that aren’t open to interpretation. We love the SMART acronym for setting quarterly goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

Consider measuring areas of your business that you don’t directly measure by dollars. Do you want to build stronger relationships with specific clients or partners this year? Are you looking to gain better visibility into data sets? All of these are measurable and worthwhile goals to include in your plan.

Once your team agrees on the goals and metrics, post these where your team can review them freely and provide status updates or blockers—which leads us to our last tip.

Schedule ongoing team check-ins

Days get busy, and it can be hard to remember to check in on your team's progress and address issues coming up with the plan you've put in place. Schedule regular check-ins now, and you can rest knowing you'll have moments to regroup with your team and quickly pivot if necessary. 

The beginning of the year is a precious opportunity to set yourself up for success before the busy season kicks back into full gear. We’re here to help you meet your goals before that time comes. 

Ready to succeed this year? Talk to our team to get started.