At our quarterly team meeting, in the Seattle company headquarters, our team, which consists of me, my boss and two co-workers, were discussing the roll out of our new contingency bonus plan. Our company is adding a retention/persistence requirement, which could prevent some of our agencies from qualifying for bonuses. This would result in lower payouts and profits for these agencies.
We needed a way to frame this change in the best way. We wanted to come up with a roll out that would ensure the continued loyalty of our agency partners. Since this new plan could easily be seen by our agencies as a reduction in commission, we needed to develop the most sale-able talking points. I suggested we brainstorm agency retention strategies to help generate as many positive ideas for our discussion as possible.
"I went to the white board and proceeded to lead our team in the brainstorming session. I wrote, 'How can we gain full acceptance of our new contingency bonus requirements?' By following the brainstorming guidelines I had learned at Session 5 of the LDL including: withholding judgement, and write down every idea as they were being generated, we came up with a surprisingly long list of helpful ideas. This brainstorming approach also helped open up our discussion about the new contingency bonus requirement. We came up with several ways we could help leverage our client agency's practices; ways that would actually benefit our agents, by helping them with their retention. By using the ideas we generated to improve the agency's retention, they will qualify for bonuses, and grow their book of business and for active long term profits.
"The lesson I learned from this experience is that brainstorming is a perfect means for finding creative new ideas, and approaches to today's competitive marketing challenges.
"The action I call you to take is to use brainstorming as a tool to come up with positive ways to deliver what could otherwise be seen as bad news.
"The benefit you will gain is your ideas will be accepted, and you will get the commitment you need to secure engagement even when cuts have to be made."
Our minds naturally turn to what won't work, what is wrong and most of us don't embrace change readily. A brainstorming session, properly conducted, can and does redirect energy to what will work, how to make things work.
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Engaging leaders face problems using creative practices
—Larry W. Dennis, Sr. President Turbo Leadership Systems