Policy Works blog | Commercial lines bliss

The Challenges of Change

Written by Debbie Summers | Jan 3, 2017 11:03:04 PM

As a commercial lines manager or principal of a brokerage, you’re always on the look-out for the most efficient process. Repetitive tasks, duplication of work and inefficient workflows are a colossal waste of time and money—everyone knows that. So why do these problems keep occurring?

When I search for an answer, the management style of a brokerage is the first place I look. The way a brokerage is managed says a lot about how these issues are dealt with. Specifically, I drill-down on their decision making process: who has the final say, why they’re doing it (or not) and what their roll-out plan looks like.

The first red flag usually appears not long after purchase. Time and again, I see brokerage management teams cut the cheque for new technology, hand-off the entire project to someone else and then wonder why uptake is slow or nonexistent.

If this disappoints me, I can only imagine the level of disappointment others at the brokerage must face. Here we go again—promises to become more efficient and streamline workflows aren’t delivered. Next, confusion ensues and everyone goes back to their old ways or worse, team members start doing their own thing and that becomes an open invitation for E&O.

Is this the point of no return? Absolutely not. Here are three things senior management can do to turn it around:

1. MANDATORY management involvement.

The commercial lines manager or a brokerage principal must actively participate in the project from start to finish. For some, this means considerable change in management style but it’s change for the better. When senior management is involved it sends a clear message that the project is important.

2. Clarity, clarity and more clarity.

How do you feel when something is happening without being told why? Your team members feel the same way – frustrated. When there is lack of clarity, everyone (including management) comes to work with their own beliefs in what is important.

Telling team members change is coming or here is not nearly enough. Managers must explain:

  • Why change is taking place and how it will benefit the brokerage, their department and the team member individually.
  • Who is responsible for the project at the senior management level.
  • What is expected from them and from management.

When you’re rolling out a project that involves more than one person or multiple departments, part of your success will depend on whether you assign clear roles to each person involved.

3. Have a system, not a goal.

In his book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, author Scott Adams says, “A goal is a specific objective that you either achieve or don't sometime in the future. A system is something you do on a regular basis that increases your odds of happiness in the long run. If you do something every day, it’s a system. If you're waiting to achieve it someday in the future, it's a goal.”

In short, everyone involved must make the project part of their daily or weekly routine. I guarantee you’ll be surprised by the results!

If you’re thinking to yourself (or maybe out loud), “yeah, like I have time for that?” I implore you to make time or at least try very hard to make time. Leaders have to lead and in the long run, change starts with you.