Tag Archives: kearney

4 Tips: How to Be a Manager, Not a Doer

No one can deny the great feeling you experience after earning that promotion. Not only does it validate the hard work you’ve done, but it’s proof that you excel at your job. It means that your organization values your contributions and believes that you’re ready to take on more responsibility.

Ready for the bad news? Being an effective manager is tough. Whether you were a claims representative, an underwriter, an agent or a broker, or serving in any other role in which you were an individual contributor on a larger team, your new role is entirely different. Your new responsibilities–managing and leading others–requires a whole different skill set that you likely never learned before.

See also: How to Unlock Group Insurance Market

It’s an all-too-common story. Studies say that up to 50% of new#managers fail within their first year on the job. Gallup says that only one in 10 people possesses the talent to manage. And there’s the notorious Peter principle–the idea that employees are promoted until they are no longer good at their jobs–a particularly common pitfall for first-time managers.

Those intimidating stats show just how jarring the transition to #management is for many people. But don’t let them scare you. Instead, use them as a reminder that, as a manager, you need to begin thinking differently about your job, your role and your skills.

Making a Successful Transition

Repeat after me: “It’s no longer my job to get things done. It’s now my job to make sure that things get done.”

This is undoubtedly the hardest concept for a star performer turned manager to grasp. It’s a subtle distinction, but understanding the difference could make or break your career as a manager. You’re no longer a doer–you’re a leader. The emphasis is no longer on working harder, it’s on working smarter. If you’re staying late to correct and touch up claims long after your employees have gone home, you may be working hard, but you’re not effectively managing your team.

It’s a big mindset adjustment. But once you start thinking in those terms, you’ll start utilizing more effective and sustainable management practices and be a better boss as a result. Here are four more ideas to help keep you on track as you go from doer to manager.

1. Don’t solve every problem. If you’ve worked in your role long enough, chances are that you have the solutions to a lot of problems that creep up. In the past, your job was to solve them and move on. As a manager, your job is more to give your employees the skills and understanding they need to solve problems and keep them from coming up again. Approach every new scenario with direct reports as if you’re their teacher.

2. Study up. There’s a reason so many books are written on management. Most of them focus on what makes great leaders, not what makes great first-time managers, but regardless, management isn’t a natural skill for most people. Find reliable sources that teach you more about what it takes to be an effective manager and leader, whether it’s a book or two you can read over the summer or a comprehensive training session on management, like our Management Education at the Wisconsin School of Business program being held this October.

See also: How to Find, Keep Good Service Reps

3. Check your relationships. You may suddenly find yourself managing your long-time lunch buddy. Maybe your former boss is now a peer. How you handle these evolving relationships is key to your success as a first-time manager. In the Gallup study, researchers list five traits all great managers share. Notice that they all revolve around successfully handling relationships on the job:

  • They motivate every single employee to take action, and they engage employees with a compelling mission and vision.
  • They have the assertiveness to drive outcomes and the ability to overcome adversity and resistance.
  • They create a culture of clear accountability.
  • They build relationships that create trust, open dialogue and full transparency.
  • They make decisions based on productivity, not politics.

4. Don’t stop at managing. Once you’re a successful manager, you’re ready for the next challenge–becoming a leader. Managers are tactical. They put systems and logistics in place to make sure that things get done. Leaders are inspirational. They motivate and engage their teams to work hard and find new ways to get things done. Not all managers can be great leaders, but all leaders must possess at least a basic skill for managing. Dr. Stephen R. Covey, author of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, sums up the distinction nicely: “Management works in the system. Leadership works on the system.”

Finding Efficiencies in Claims Process

Whether for individuals or businesses, the #claims handling process is often the most confusing and frustrating part of having insurance. According to J.D. Power, 2015 was one of the worst years for customer satisfaction in claims handling as overall satisfaction decreased five points during the year. Even our community members acknowledged that claims handling can be frustrating, with 37% of respondents to a recent survey listing “more efficient claims resolution” as an enhancement that customers would like to see in 2016.

While the claims process may be the aspect of insurance that non-industry folks know the least about, it’s actually one of the most important for customer retention. That same J.D. Power study found that only 14% of displeased claimants say they “definitely will” renew their policy and only 7% say they “definitely will” recommend their current insurer. Conversely, 81% of highly satisfied claimants plan to renew their policy, and 81% will recommend their insurer. Clearly, a positive experience with the claims process goes a long way toward keeping customers despite what is becoming a more competitive environment, seemingly by the day.

See also: Bad-Faith Claims: 4 Ways to Avoid Them  

For most claims pros, getting an entire company to revamp its claims process by implementing new technology may be difficult. However, there are improvements that individuals can make for customers. Here are three tips:

1. Openly communicate with claimants early and often

When customers call an insurance company about a claim, chances are that they are doing so during a time of distress either for themselves or their business. It’s critical for claims professionals to be open and honest with the claimant from the first point of contact. Letting them know up-front the steps of the insurance claims process, what is needed from them and the timeframe for receiving their insurance settlement can help ease fears before they arise.

Additionally, claims professionals should update claimants on the status of their claim and provide a timeline of what they should expect along the way. This way, misunderstandings about expectations and confusion about why the whole process is taking so long can be reduced or eliminated altogether.

2. Get to know the claimant on a personal level

A large part of the practice of opening up communication avenues with claimants is not only providing information but also being empathetic to what they may be going through. Today, the difference among insurers and the amount and types of coverage they provide is smaller than it’s ever been. The biggest differentiator among insurers is often the lengths they go to understand the individual’s unique situation and to provide a personalized experience. Do you know what claimant Sarah needs and the amount of care she’s looking for versus claimant John, who may have submitted a similar claim but wants a totally different result and interaction with his claims pro?

Even the smallest things, like knowing whether someone has a pet or knowing they have children, go a long way toward reinforcing the notion that you are aware of their needs and doing everything you can to take care of them. Doing this not only differentiates you as a claims professional, but also the insurance company you work for as one willing to go that extra mile.

3. Organize and prioritize

Few people outside the industry are aware of the vast amount of critical checks and balances and documentation necessary to get a claim processed. Unlike other jobs, in which having “your own organized chaos” works to an extent, claims handling requires diligent organization and prioritization to ensure a claim is processed accurately and on time.

Developing guidelines and checklists for processing each claim, including having a status document or claims system to know where in the process each claim is at any given time, will make the entire process much smoother and more efficient for both the insurance company and the claimant. In addition, being familiar with policy coverages and provisions, staying current on new technologies to help you organize your tasks better and completing work on a designated timetable will streamline the process and help you provide professional and specialized service to your customers.

See also: Power of ‘Claims Advocacy’  

Finding efficiencies in the claims handling process is less about improving life for the insurer than about showing the claimant that the insurer truly does care about making sure the process is smooth, as efficient as possible and fair to all parties.

Interested in other claims handling tips? Find out about our Associate in Claims and Associate in Claims Management designation programs.

5 Ways to Onboard New CSRs

After going through the process of finding candidates, interviewing prospects and eventually choosing the individual who’s perfect for the customer service representative (CSR) position you’re trying to fill, it may be tempting to take a deep breath, sit back and think that the hard part is mostly over.

And while taking a deep breath is certainly never a bad idea, thinking that new employees will simply figure everything out on their own is. This is especially true for CSRs, whose main responsibilities include being the face of the company, answering questions and helping clients and customers through their issues. In this case, proper onboarding couldn’t be more critical.

Providing CSRs with the information and tools they need to feel comfortable on the phone, via chat or in person, will not only make them better at their own jobs, but it will ensure that the image your company portrays is accurate at all levels of the business.

Here are five ways to onboard new CSRs to help make their transition much smoother and to make them productive team members sooner.

  • Create or customize a customer service employee handbook

Having a go-to source for every question and concern, while a sizable undertaking to start from scratch, can be extremely helpful for new employees. Fill a CSR handbook with information about the company, policies, FAQs, insights about customers and anything else that would help new CSRs feel as though they’ve been with the company for years. Or personalize an existing handbook by adding notes with tips, tricks and helpful message points. Your advice and suggestions can help new hires feel welcome and comfortable with you as a colleague or boss.

See also: How to Redesign Customer Experience

  • Set up new employee meet-and-greets

Usually during the first few days on the job, employees are bombarded with countless names and titles, making it stressful for them if they believe they are expected to remember everyone immediately. By organizing ice-breaking meet-and-greets between new and current employees, supervisors can provide everyone with the chance to learn a bit more about each other, and new hires may more quickly feel like part of the collective group.

  • Organize regular check-ins

Starting a new job is overwhelming. It’s often difficult to know how you’re doing, if you’re doing the job right and if there’s anything you should be doing differently. By setting up weekly check-ins with new hires, even just for 10 minutes in the morning, employees can ask any questions they have, and you can provide helpful feedback on their performance. This can also be a great time to review customer service reports or calls to ensure that all steps are being taken to solve customers’ issues. This small time commitment can help employees stay on track early in their development.

  • Write an onboarding checklist

During the first few weeks of a new job, there are seemingly dozens of forms, meetings, technology setups and more that an employee has to complete. Developing a checklist for new employees to make sure they are prepared to do their job is a great way to take the full onboarding onus off of you or HR. This checklist can also be a great place to set immediate, concrete goals that you’d like new employees to achieve within a scheduled timeframe. To ensure that the checklist doesn’t seem like one more piece of paperwork, make it a little less formal by adding a few must-visit lunch spots, important people to meet or other fun aspects of your corporate culture.

  • Run through some mock customer service calls

New CSRs are ideally hired for interpersonal skills and their ability to solve problems. However, the way those things are conveyed to customers can vary dramatically from one company to the next, and new employees will often default to the methods and messages they used at their last employer. To gauge how new employees will respond to your company’s calls and test whether they’re staying on message, run through some mock customer service calls — from simple to exasperating — before allowing them to answer phones on behalf of the company. If adjustments need to be made, you can alert them to how things are done at your company and correct any issues before they present themselves during a live call.

See also: Are We Listening to Our Customers?

These suggestions are surely just a few ways to optimize your onboarding process. Do you have anything to add that you’ve found helpful? Please share your advice below so other professionals can learn from your experience. Thanks!

The Aging Workforce and Succession Plans

In 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon, marking the culmination of a $24 billion NASA space program. Ten years later, NASA sheepishly admitted they could not return to the moon even if they wanted to — they couldn’t remember how.

This is a perfect example of what is referred to as the “knowledge gap”: the loss of critical information when employees leave their place of employment. In the case of NASA, all the key people involved in the original Apollo 11 project had retired…and no one thought to jot down what they knew. To make matters worse, blueprints for Saturn V, the only rocket powerful enough to travel to the moon, were lost.

Even though this NASA fumble took place 30 years ago, the exact scenario is being played out in spades as Baby Boomers (those individuals born between 1946 and 1964) are reaching retirement age. Most employers have made no effort to capture the Boomers’ knowledge before they eventually leave. In the next 20 years, 76 million Boomers will sing the Johnny Paycheck song as they walk out the door, taking with them an entire generation’s worth of knowledge that can never be replaced. There is an inconvenient truth in the potential calamity, and most companies aren’t ready for the aftermath.

Boomers make up more than one third of the nation’s work force. They fill many of its most skilled and senior jobs. Thanks to their near-workaholic habits, they are among the most aggressive, creative and demanding workers in the market today. Economists predict their exit will cause a great, sucking hole in the workplace universe.

Companies need to bear in mind that the coming retirement years are going to be larger than at any other time in U.S. history. With 76 million Boomers leaving the workforce and only 46 million Generation Xers (those born between 1965 and 1980) available to take the newly vacant roles, there will be a deficit of 30 million workers. So while the Millennials (also known as Generation Y — those born between 1981 and 1995) number approximately 100 million, the oldest of them are still too young and inexperienced to step into leadership roles.

A study earlier this decade by the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that more than 17% of Boomers holding executive and managerial positions are expected to leave their careers by 2010.

While some companies have begun scrambling to hire trainees, and close the potential knowledge gap created by the Boomer exodus, most companies haven’t even taken notice, according to Elizabeth Kearney, founder and president of Kearney & Associates, a nationwide alliance of experts who specialize in this trend.

In fact, according to the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), only 29% of responding organizations report that they incorporate retirement forecasts into their knowledge transfer practices. Furthermore, i4cp found that only a third add “skills gap analysis” into those forecasts; less than half say they train their managers to identify critical skills; only 23% are educated in critical skills transfer; and most companies admit they do not formally measure the effectiveness of their knowledge transfer practices.

Cornerstone OnDemand has released a whitepaper finding that most organizations, particularly larger ones, are not ready for the pending talent shortage caused by the looming retirement of Boomers. The paper, titled, “Managing Talent in the Face of Workforce Retirement,” summarizes key findings of Knowledge Infusion’s “2010 Talent Readiness Assessment,” which indicates, among other things that:

  • Organizations with more than 2,500 employees indicated that approximately one in five workers are over the age of 55;
  • More than 50% of respondents said the retiring workforce will cause a knowledge/skill gap; and yet,
  • Less than 30% of organizations that responded had a knowledge retention plan in place.

David DeLong, author of the book Lost Knowledge: Confronting the Threat of an Aging Workforce, recently pointed out that there are direct and indirect costs associated with lost knowledge.

Direct costs occur through the loss of workers with specific knowledge through retirement and attrition. When these experts are no longer around, it accentuates the indirect costs of knowledge loss: poor documentation and storage.

A holistic approach is necessary to deal with an aging workforce and knowledge retention problems, according to DeLong. The approach combines effective knowledge transfer practices, knowledge recovery initiatives, strong knowledge management technologies and finally, more effective HR processes and practices to deal with the problem on a more systemic level.

Here are three things DeLong recommends companies should be doing to deal with aging workforce problems:

  • Harvest critical information now and make it available at point-of-need. Companies should begin by identifying where they are most at risk from the loss of knowledge and experience. This involves, in part, establishing performance management and career development processes that identify employees with the most critical knowledge and expertise. For example, to sustain business after the 9/11 attacks, Delta Air Lines was forced to make workforce cuts to remain competitive. This meant that Delta had less than two months to identify which of the 11,000 laid-off employees had jobs for which no backups or replacements had been trained, and then capture that knowledge before it walked out the door. Supervisors worked with a team from Delta’s learning services unit to narrow the list down to those veterans whose departure would represent a critical job loss. Once these outstanding performers were identified, they were interviewed about their roles at the company. This way, Delta retained as much critical knowledge as possible on very short notice.
  • Use real-time collaboration tools to enable workers to interact with colleagues. As collaboration and knowledge management have grown, relevant technologies and tools have become increasingly sophisticated. Things like workspace portals are revolutionizing knowledge management and collaboration solutions by giving workers access to enterprise data and applications, productivity and virtual collaboration tools, and documented knowledge, all of it personalized.
  • Use advanced e-learning techniques. Performance simulation gives employees the opportunity to practice, in real time, the key skills and competencies they must acquire to address knowledge drain.
  • Employ better workforce planning and targeted knowledge retention initiatives to address the brain drain that now threatens entire industries.

“Companies need to proactively assess their organizations and determine a plan of action before this threat becomes a reality,” said Adam Miller, president and CEO, Cornerstone OnDemand. “Understanding the overall goals of the organization and which employees are key to achieving these goals including their role, skills and level within the company is important to implementing a retention plan.”

Not all employers are ignoring the inevitable. The i4cp study found that there are a number of up-and-coming practices in use or under consideration. “Communities of practice” are utilized by a third of all responding companies to transfer knowledge, and the use of Webcasts and services such as “Lunch and Learn” and “SharePoint” are on the rise.

Harvesting the knowledge is only part of the equation. The captured knowledge must then be reformatted into a usable database with easy access by the employer. It does no good to house the data in a three-ring binder and then place it on a dusty shelf, never to be seen again.

Northrop Grumman has been on the forefront of knowledge management for many years. In 1997, with the Cold War behind them, thousands of NG engineers, who had helped design and maintain the B-2 bomber, were asked to leave the integrated systems sector. In a short period, 12,000 workers filed out the door, leaving only 1,200 from an original staff of 13,000 employees, to help maintain the current fleet of bombers. The 12,000 took with them years of experience and in-depth knowledge about what was the most complex aircraft ever built. Without appropriate measures, this could have been a disaster of epic proportion. Instead, before the exodus, NG formed a “Knowledge Management Team” who identified the top experts and videotaped interviews with them.

To this day, the company uses a variety of tools to retain and transfer knowledge from its engineers — before they retire. The company has implemented document management systems, as well as common work spaces to record how an engineer did her job for future reference. NG also brings together mature and young engineers across the country to exchange information via e-mail or in-person about technical problems.

No company wants to be in the position in which NASA found itself — having to explain why it can’t recreate the single greatest event in modern history. If employers don’t plug the knowledge gap prior to the great Boomer exodus, it’s going to be more than just Houston that has a problem.