There’s no “I” in team

As the saying goes, “There is no ‘I’ in ‘team.’” But there sure is a “me.”

Setting up teams is crucial and at the end of the day, isn’t really all about you as the business owner or the sales lead. What strategies can you put in place that will make your life more efficient? Below I’d like to walk you through some of the tricks I have set up within my work team that have been game changers.

  • Calendar Management – I have known people that have owned their business for 20+ years and it shocks me when I hear they still handle their own calendar when they have many staff members. I’m telling you, if you hand off this portion of your life to another member of your team, you will be shocked at how much time you get back into your week. It all goes back to knowing how much your time is worth and if it is more cost effective from a P&L standpoint to have you do it, or hand it over.
  • Emails Are Handled Backwards – I learned this when I was serving on the National Board of Directors for Women in Insurance & Financial Services (WIFS) where I traveled frequently. And yes, I understand by going backwards through my emails, the person that emailed me 2 minutes ago, will get a quicker response than someone that emailed me 2 hours ago, however I’ve found that this works best for us. That’s because when I’m out of the office, my out of office tells people to reach out to our support@combsandco.com email address. When someone emails this address, it goes to the entire team (which is another great tip). When I was going bottom up on my emails, I was responding to things that had already been handled and double work was happening… not a good use of time or money! Going in reverse allowed me to move more quickly through tasks that have been handled or simply file the email in the client’s file if it had already been completed by another team member.
  • Friday Forecast – This is something we started doing about five years ago. Every Friday morning, my office manager will shoot me an email and tell me how many prospect meetings, networking meetings, calls and client meetings I have scheduled. This allows us to shift things around sooner rather than later if we think we are going to need more time on a particular task. It also allows us to move people up or hop on the phone and set up some other appointments if it is looking like it will be a light week.
  • 0 Emails Rule – This is something I learned at the WIFS National Conference a few years ago, and I will NEVER turn back. There was a professional coach named Wendy Ellin that was speaking and she said that we should all file all our emails and have 0 emails in the box at the end of the week. I immediately gasped when she said this. I was sitting between two friends that are very successful in this business, Nancy Wolfe-Smith and Michele Greene, and I asked them how many emails they both had. Nancy said she had nine and Michelle said she had seven. I started to cower and they asked me how many I had and made me take out my laptop then and there and show them. I had more than 19,000 emails in my inbox on October 21. These two ladies told me I was required to file them all by November 1. That was more than three years ago and I still do it today and so does my staff. By Friday, when we all walk out the door we have 0 emails in our inbox. So, every Friday, we all leave for the weekend feeling a sense of accomplishment.

What are some strategies you have implemented to make your team more efficient? I’d love to hear about them (please use the comment tool below).


Susan Combs founded New York-based insurance brokerage Combs & Company in 2005, where as CEO she oversees all aspects of the business and serves as the quarterback on all specialty risk and expert witness duties.

For more about Susan, please read Susan Combs: Candid and determined

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