The Two Cs Often Ignored: Probe into Underperformance Issue

The article below has been published in the “Insurance Journal”, the only magazine focusing insurance industry in Pakistan.

“In search of Excellence” has been declared as one of the most influential master pieces of business writing in American corporate history. The New York Wall Street Journal described it as one of those rare books on management.

The whole work is about the search of the authors for reasons why organizations reach at the top such as among fortune 500 list. They landed at eight attributes out of which, the most important are the two Cs: Common Sense and Customer Care. 

The Belief Cycles and Insurance Industry: Probe into Underperformance Issue

The article below has been published in the “Insurance Journal”, the only magazine focusing insurance industry in Pakistan.

The Issue: As one of the top management gurus in the world, Anthony Robbins rightly says: Business is 80% psychology and 20% mechanics. This statement stands truer for insurance industry, since every decision of accepting or rejecting sales is highly affected by either the psychology of the client or that of the insurance consultant.

An Important Question: In our seminars and training activities, one question that I almost always ask to the participants is: Do you think you are using all of your energies, creativity, intelligence, enthusiasm, wisdom, decision-making capability at your work? Some times another version of the same question: Does your job allow you to use all resources, mental or physical at your disposal at their optimum? Although the average experience of the trainees has been 7 to 8 years after their academic qualifications, the answer is never a yes. Well there exceptionally was one event when a sturdy looking guy in his thirties, who very confidently replied: “Yes, I am using all my 100%.” Later it was discovered that he was the one in his department against whom every one had a complaint.

We are underperforming: at an individual as well as collective level. The possibilities are unlimited and potential almost infinity, yet why is that most of us do not tend to achieve much? During our work, I meet tens of dozens of executives, HR managers, fresh graduates, department heads, brand managers, decisions makers, members of the Board of governors, heads of institutions and the list in unending and some times it perplexes me to think that at our organizations, we are achieving so less as compared to what we can. Insurance industry is no exception to this. The potential so huge and yet we are under-utilizing the true potential.

The Digging: Getting to the core of an issue is the first key to unlocking the failure myths of a suffering organization or an under-performing industry. During our consultation work, it is the stage where we find maximum resistance. People do not tend to disclose real stories, facts, numbers and events. The culture of job security prevails. We are most concerned to make our jobs secure even at the cost of developing the very organizations we are working for. We forget that by only making our organizations strong, we can guarantee our secure stay there. We think in reverse. Yet this particular behavior is again a symptom, a sign, a fever that some thing is terribly wrong in the body. What is the real cause?

The Core: Although a multiplicity of reasons exists for not touching the optimum performance level at our work place, yet all behaviors point at one direction: The Belief Cycles. To initiate a change management process in an organization, it is the first place in an executive’s mind that we probe and touch. Belief cycles define and determine what we think is possible or impossible. Belief cycles define the level of achievement when an insurance consultant walks out of his office cabin and enters a client’s office. Most often the issue of quality control is deeply linked with belief cycles of the production manager and staff about what quality is possible and what isn’t.

Insurance Industry: In sales and particularly insurance five types of belief cycles work either in favour or against the consultant: Beliefs about him or herself, about industry and his company, about the market, about life and about clients. One of so commonly repeated exercise in sales is to replace or shift the under-performer by a new manager and the sales are boosted up. How is it that suddenly the market has started to respond? How does it happen that the dead businesses and unmotivated decision makers have started to take interest in the insurance cover for their staff? The behavioral symptoms could be many, but they mostly, almost more than 95% point towards belief cycles.

The sad fact: is that we pick our beliefs unconsciously. Most of the times those very beliefs that we pick unconsciously are working against us and against our careers.

The Origin: The question is very intriguing. Where do beliefs come from? The short answer is from any input to our brain process and mind. A little detailed answer would be: from parenting, from early school days, from newspapers and media, from open manholes, gutters, piles of filth, from success and failure stories of our colleagues and fellow consultants, from National geographic and other channels broadcasting human achievement, from repeated negative or positive experiences and from books and reading, the list is unending.

Can some thing be done to alter belief cycles? Changing or altering any of these belief cycles, shifts the behavior of the person to any desired level. Though it definitely takes a substantial amount of time (a whole day activity for a batch of 20 executives) to explore a person’s belief cycles, yet the results are some times miraculous. People star to perform and to do what they had previously thought of as unachievable.

A Shift from Mediocrity to Excellence: There are no limitations to what human mind and thus to human achievement. A thorough regular probing into our mind and particularly into belief cycles can allow us to shatter limiting beliefs and perform much higher as compared to our previous levels of achievement. One of the most effective tools to shift the management standards from mediocrity towards excellence is to begin with changing belief cycles of the executives and decision makers involved.