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The benefits of mentoring are so appealing and the concept seems so easy to implement that many field managers are eager to explore how mentoring programs can assist their agency-building efforts.
The rewards of such programs can be substantial for both producers and management. The careers of new agents are jump-started while experienced producers are revitalized by the additional activity and marketing support that mentoring programs create. New hires and established agents benefit from opportunities for greater production, and agencies realize the improved productivity that comes from sales growth accompanied by the greater retention associated with mentoring.
While these benefits are attractive, they should not be allowed to obscure the fact that mentoring programs require considerable effort to develop and manage. Mentoring offers neither a shortcut to solid, profitable growth nor a panacea for the continued challenge of agency building.
Instead, mentoring creates an additional set of challenges. But well-designed programs also provide structure that brings much needed focus and specific direction to the agency-building process. This structure and adherence to systems, as much as the mentoring process itself, is what makes mentoring programs a reliable, if not necessarily easy, means to accelerate growth.
For example, while mentoring starts by pairing new hires with experienced producers, these relationships should not function independently. They should be defined and managed by the agency, and systems must be installed to oversee this process. Further, if mentoring is to become a major factor in career building, it must be supported by strong systems to coordinate recruiting, selection, training, supervision and marketing.
More than joint work
This need for structure and strong supporting systems is where the apparently simple concept of matching new recruits with senior producers grows complex.
Mentoring includes joint work, but must involve a lot more if it is to be effective. Joint work tends to be temporary and utilized on a case-by-case basis. It takes place between agents, and management has …