As part of our 2023 insights initiative at Romero Insurance Brokers, we will be highlighting team leaders across the Romero Group. Over 12 months, The Romero Group will showcase 12 important figures, each from different departments and different disciplines.
Fourth in our Insights Series, we talk to Simon Mabb, Group Managing Director of Romero Insurance Brokers. Simon has overseen the rise of Romero Insurance Brokers since joining in 2008, and is responsible for the day-to-day running of the business. The eyes and ears within the business, Simon is best placed to discuss management methods, the challenges of leadership and tackling underperformance.
What are your roles and responsibilities?
“I am Group Managing Director of all the businesses. My key responsibility is the correct running of the business, ensure we deliver on the plan for all the shareholders, making sure we have a successful business.”
As a Director, what is your preferred method of management?
“I think it’s about getting people to be engaged – having people follow you rather than be pulled along. I’m a big believer in don’t ask someone to do something you wouldn’t do yourself; in whatever business that is. For example: If the phone is ringing, pick the phone up because it could be a client, and deal with their request; it doesn’t matter who you are.”
“If you take those principles of I’m not too big to do that job, then you won’t go far wrong. We have a very flat management structure, it’s about showing people the direction we want to go. This is why we [the directors] do new starter presentations. It enables us, myself and Justin, to pass on the message of what we are interested in, what makes us tick, and how we want the business to run.”
What’s the most challenging aspect of being a leader?
“A challenge as a manager is tackling underperformance. By underperformance I mean someone slacking off or doing the bare minimum. We have high performing teams here, so often everyone is working really hard. If underperformance has not been addressed, what happens in large organisations is people look at their co-worker not putting the for in and think why am I working so hard. So managers have to address underperformance for the benefit of everybody else.”
“Dealing with the weakest link in order to lift the group is essential. Yet, underperformance can be due to multiple different reasons. We are a sales driven organisation – people can underperform and still do everything right. Maybe you’ve not had any luck, or you need to hone something, therefore you need more support from your manager – opposed to just being lazy.”
“The most frustrating thing about really good people is seeing that they are not performing to the level their capabilities allow them to. That has a multitude of causes; something could be wrong in their personal life, or something completely unrelated that means they are not quite on their game. As a manager, this what we need to look out for and try to address.”
How do you successfully manage and motivate people within a business?
“I suppose it’s knowing your people. There are lots of different techniques, such as really structured 1-to-1s or managers meetings, but actually more valuable is what you pick up when moving about the building. If you see an individual and you feel something’s odd, maybe it’s their body language , their head is down or they are not giving eye contact – you gain a sixth sense for these things.”
“But similarly, it’s important managers understand people. Some people are naturally quiet, but with others you can see a change, and its crucial managers understand what is going on.”
“At the end of the day, we are a people business. And if our people aren’t firing on all cylinders then that has an effect on what we deliver. At other companies where you see things not working, perhaps it’s because of some of these issues. I’ve spoken to friends and past colleagues, one of which has moved to a Government-led organisation, they were really enthusiastic, getting through the work, and they were pulled by their supervisor who said Wait a minute, don’t go ploughing through loads of work, you’ll make the rest of us look bad. That’s a totally different culture to what we have at Romero Insurance Brokers.”
“Our job as Managing Directors is to spot who’s working hard and make sure they know it’s appreciated. It sets the tone for our business.”
What’s the best way of communicating within the organisation according to you?
“This is one of the most difficult aspects of being a managing director. We’ve tried various methods including employee surveys and email bulletins. However what I’ve found best is video. I started doing a video broadcast to the business back when lockdown was announced and we were all working from out of the office. We’ve carried it on, I do them quarterly and each employee gets a text with a link to the video. I discuss updates for the business and chat about the market as a whole.”
“It’s important to remember when communicating that we are talking to people, therefore people need to be part of the conversation. It’s why we have imagery across the building, filled with the people who make up our business. We don’t use stock photos, and we give our business a human face.”
What’s one tip you’d give to future directors?
“Do what you say you are going to do.”
“It’s a cliché but under promise, over deliver – We exist in a sector where companies often underdeliver. Hence, it’s essential we commit to our decisions and are successful. Being fully committed and not going back on your word places value on what you say and the decisions you take.”