Tim Connon on Empathy and Connection as Business Tools
Tim Connon is Founder & CEO of ParamountQuote Insurance Advisors and understands the importance of empathy in the workplace. They took some time out to share their insights on this topic with The Industry Leaders.
Can you start by telling us about your entrepreneurial journey? What led you to your current business, and what is it that sets your leadership style apart from others?
I started my journey when I realize in order to provide my family with the kind of life I want them to have I would need to find a high paying career. This led me to life insurance sales and as I worked for different agencies in life insurance sales I realized some things. I realized that people like to use free lead programs to control agents. In addition to this I have seen high closing agents get favored with more leads than others. The low performers would get less leads and being on commission not be able to pay their bills with the low volume of sales due to low leads. This led to them failing the business which is something I despised. This is when I decided I was done fulfilling other peoples dreams and wanted to fulfill my own. I went fully independent and started my company and website. I hired a mentor to assist me with a working model for my business. My leadership style is different from others because I take a no nonsense approach to my business. This means in a respectful blunt way I will tell agents what they are doing wrong on calls in order to help them get better. I do not worry myself with how they will react but rather the progress it can make for them.
You've been recognized for your focus on empathy and human connection within your organization. How did you come to realize the importance of these values in leadership, and how have they shaped the way you run your business?
I realized the importance of empathy and connection when I was on the phone making sales. When I could show a senior how much I cared for them and their family they always bought a policy from me. This is because people don't want to work with a transactional robot they want to work with a human being. When you show empathy and connection this confirms you as human in their eyes. The same goes for training and agents and helping them which reduces our turnover rate. They understand that I am human and I understand them as human. This results in more production and long standing relationships with our agents.
Can you share an example of a situation where employing empathy and connection as business tools made a significant positive difference in your organization? What were the challenges and outcomes?
We implemented a new CRM platform and the employees did not like it. We arranged town hall meetings to give them a platform to provide feedback. In addition to this we did one on one sessions to see what individuals had to say. The challenge was overwhelmingly resisting the change. We made it a point to empathize with our employees regarding the change. Our employees appreciated our empathy because it made them feel like they had a voice and valued. This led to the transition going smooth and improved employee morale.
Empathy can often be misunderstood or oversimplified in a business context. How do you define it in your leadership practice, and how do you ensure that it's applied authentically?
I define it as my ability to understand the needs and feelings of others. I apply it authentically through active listening to my team with no judgements to better understand them. I imagine myself as them and their point of view this helps me gain insight into their experiences. Open communication is key, to have no judgement involved so my team is more open. I apply support with my care and consideration through my empathy.
Connection is not just about understanding others but also connecting with oneself. How do you maintain a balance between personal well-being and fostering connections with your team?
I schedule everything so my self care is scheduled mainly on weekends. It is non negotiable for me to take the time I need for my self care. This leads to managing my time effectively which is why I schedule self care. I schedule both personal time for myself and professional time which helps me maintain balance. Balance is discussed in open communication with my team also which helps them to maintain their balance. This helps our culture become more supportive to each other.
In terms of scalability, how do you maintain these human-centered values as your business grows? What strategies or tools have you found most effective?
Scheduling town halls and open forums is how we maintain these values. We do this via in person or zoom meetings. This allows our employees to share and continue to support each other through these activities. Management is also taught to divide and host these meetings with their individual teams. These are the best strategies we have found.
For those who are new to leadership or are struggling to build empathy and connection within their teams, what practical advice can you offer? Are there any exercises or habits that can be cultivated?
The best advice I have to offer is begin implementing morning meetings as soon as possible. Once these are implemented start planning open forums that fit your schedule and train management how to do them. Once you start with these and understand them you can begin to implement more types of sessions.
You've shared some truly insightful thoughts on leadership. How have these principles been reflected in your products or services, and what has been the response from your customers?
These principles are reflected through our agents on the sales floor. They share personal stories regarding their loved ones deaths to connect with our senior customers. The response has been warm and genuine from our customers. We have had agents cry together with their clients through the phone. This results in a long lasting connection and our customers always refer their families to use because they truly know we care.