By Richard Ziert
Humility in hand and with a bit of luck, we need to get through to the honchos – get through to them on our level . . . the “in – the – trenches” level . . .
With junior and executive promotion in our past or future, we know what teamwork is beyond lip service, beyond subterfuge. We have “grunt work” credentials as well as some mahongany row. We have graduate/industry formal and continuing education. We’ve worked in local, national, and world wide – all industry venues. We know the plus side to the bottom line and how to get there effectively. Our creative juices prove good chemistry. We are people with reserved “pluck”. We know there’s a place for cultural politics, but privately wish everyone would embrace these as often getting in the way of real and timely progress. We know management’s job is first “doing” for and with our people if we are to truly thrive. So, with these quasi-witty remarks . . . if I may write to you openly . . .
I’ve had industry articles published in the past. I’ve been written up – good and bad – on both sides of the desk so often I can say, to have too many of these in print means we are not doing our real job, the whole job. But, I also have an avocation of writing outdoor magazine articles. Being retired from Commercial Insurance, I have the time to do what I want. Being industry retired does not mean it’s not in the blood. If we refuse to learn from our elders, then we are lost until we too wake up to being an elder, and then it will be too late. I want to give you something, for nothing more than a caring nature; both yours and mine. The enclosed – soon to be published – article brought to mind an analogy tied to the insurance industry; frankly, any industry.
As read, I’m comparing Border Patrol and Jungle Reconnaissance with the kind of awareness we need to build for ourselves to become better fishermen, better anything. Comparably: Are insurance personnel fishermen? Taking the likeness further, it’s not a great push to see this piece can be about underwriting, marketing, or any other service, or teaching job in all lines, all products of business. We need to mentor each other.
Changing certain words and phrases to account for a different audience; this “message” can be used on all levels of new and experienced mentoring. Candidly, there’s an endearment, or down-to-earth style value here as well. Not going for puffed-up language so common in our industry, there is a subtle hug by the troops and the generals in the change. That approach automatically provides for greater understanding, confidence, customer service, and teamwork all around. Of course the competition”, and/or “agency/client relations”/call prep, risk essentials; other business criterion, etc. are the more evident keys to transition.
For Insurance, such things as knowing your agency plant, underwriting your agency, or company, or reinsurer first, inside and out, intimately knowing the risk at hand, as well as all key personnel, can be substituted for “life styles and quirks” of the fourth paragraph. Other businesses can use what they know to be awareness factors. Concentrating on service and turn around time goes almost without saying for service organizations. Then, creating a true feel of special treatment for all those involved would bring the “Beano” to the beans . . . that phrase in itself equates to “not wasting time”.
The “how to” can include things as simple as prioritizing our work each evening before leaving for home will make us better “scouts” the following day. If we have more than one project which holds top priority, place the toughest one on top, do it first the next day . . . the rest in the pile will be that much easier.
This is old hat, but by getting copies of competitor’s guidelines, appetite, and so on, by knowing what is being told or not by financial reviews and stock markets, by truly understanding our own policies and understanding back door involvement/coverage through contracts, by the direction of new laws and corporate council minutes, by getting normally” inside desk folks” into the field to look at and feel our business risks, by having up to date user friendly technology at hand internally, by coupling these with ways to glean info from the internet, national or local all industry conferences, and other sources, would put “operatives” in a much better position to stay ahead of the alligators and tigers that chase us all.
Not meaning to push this as a wake up call on anyone in any way, but I feel it’s not being done with the kind of sincerity needed. To those of you who can do something with this, if you think there’s merit here please feel free to use it as you see fit. You can either use all of these pages together somehow, or use them separately.
There’s an old truism that relates something about becoming people like those we hang out with. If our culture spawns incompetence and we can’t see it, we refuse to recognize the possibility because of the incompetent jungle we live in, the alligators and tiger will catch us. Both as a grunt and an exec I hope we all can see the call for for a universal statement here; “I’ll make myself available and pitch in with whatever else is needed.” Teamwork is, after all, a marriage relationship. Z
P.S. I will not ever use the phrase “Pro-Active”. That phrase and others like it are nothing more than thicker plastic bags around compacted garbage. We all need to remember, nothing ever happens unless something else happens first. We can sit back and let it happen to us, or we can be part of the creative force.