The hard market: Use clear communication

August 23, 2023

Supporting and leading your employees through this hard market is going to be critical for agency leaders. They will follow your example and most team members want to do a great job. They need to understand what that means to your agency.

You may be saying: “My team members know what they need to do.” However when asked, many team members are doing things in different ways because they don’t have the clarity they need from their leadership. Create clear communication channels and provide a consistent feedback loop to solve challenges as they arise. Here are some tips for leaders that will help you support your team during this hard-market cycle:

Get on the phone

Leaders can offer to assist team members with their greatest challenges. Think about the things you must do in a day. If someone came to you and offered to take your biggest challenge off your plate so you could handle the rest, would you breathe a sigh of relief? It breathes new life into your employees when they know you’re weathering the storm by their side. However, don’t let them take advantage of you and set clear expectations on what you will take from them, how often and what they are expected to execute in return.

Triage time

Make sure your employees know how to allocate their time. What should they be spending time on first from clients to processes? Staff members need to think like ER nurses and they must be able to assess the severity of each request and prioritize accordingly. More commonly, what we see is that the next request is being worked on while the last request waits. We need to empower our employees to elevate their professionalism. Set appointments with clients to honor everyone’s time. When you receive requests, start by asking for deadlines and set expectations with clients rather than making every request the most urgent priority. Give them the permission to be the professional hard-market heroes they are.


Provide your team with coaching and training opportunities. Listen to and audit recorded calls in team meetings so that team members can learn from each other. Role play difficult conversations with them so they can be better prepared and problem solve more quickly. Give them opportunities to train on alternative carriers and markets so they will be prepared for the changes. When possible, give them some quiet time to work on their more critical thinking tasks.

Rewards and incentives

Celebrate the wins—even the small ones. Keep your team members focused on the positive things that are happening in their day. Don’t let that one angry caller bring them down when they had nine other great calls in which the clients learned something. Have daily, weekly and monthly goals, and celebrate achievement. Have a jeans day, spin the wheel, bring in lunch, provide bonuses for a job well done. You will know what is right for your agency, but the goal is to have some fun.

—For more on how to navigate through the hard market, watch for the October issue of PIA Magazine, which will feature Fernandez’s article on how to use marketing campaigns to educate and build relationships.—

Bobbie Fernandez
Agency Performance Partners

Bobbie Fernandez, AIS, is a performance coach at Agency Performance Partners. She has spent her career serving independent insurance agencies. Fernandez has worked with and trained remote workforces globally. Additionally, she has assisted agencies to solve their biggest challenges with honesty and fun. Reach her at For more information, log on to or

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