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Next Wave
Thought Process

Establishing processes builds roadmaps to success.
  • Carly Burnham
  • July 2018
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Carly Burnham

If a process is in place, it can be followed and that ensures essential steps are not missed.

How many times have you been in a meeting or received an email about yet another change in a work process? If you’re like me, the focus on process can be frustrating. I have a tendency to wonder: ‘Why does it matter if I do Step 1a before Step 2c if they both get done, and how I did it worked in the past?’ Many insurance roles are relationship-focused, and we believe our jobs are more of an “art” than a “science.”  With these beliefs, it can be tough to adjust to a process-focused mindset. When I’m sitting in one of those meetings, I try to reflect on how adopting the new practice will make me better at my job.  If I can tie it back to one of the following four key points, I can quickly recognize how the change will be useful. 

Rising Turnover Of Employees

A lot of time is spent talking about how to attract and retain the next generations of insurance professionals. Every time that discussion comes up, we’re reminded that 25% of insurance professionals are expected to retire by the end of 2018.  Given that it’s the second half of 2018, we’ve already seen many retirements, and can expect that trend to continue.  Along with retirements, the insurance industry has a problem retaining entry-level employees, and more and more employees are job hopping from company to company.  With all the staff turnover it’s important to have a standard process in place in workers’ files to make it easier for a new hire to pick up where their predecessor left off.

Decision Fatigue Is Real

If your work involves a number of different tasks, you may not do the same thing every day.  In this case, it’s like reinventing the wheel when attempting a task that you haven’t done in months.  It entails deciding how to approach the work, in addition to making the decisions that are actually pertinent to the work. This can sound like a small thing, but it takes brainpower away from the pertinent decisions. If a process is in place, it can be followed and that ensures important factors and essential steps are not missed due to reduced cognitive function from decision fatigue.

Efficiency Is Increasingly Important

Work is expected to be completed quickly.  Customers expect answers and service at the speed of Amazon. Following a universal process allows you to accommodate that speed.

Consistency Is Key to Trust

Everyone wants to believe that they are going to remember every detail of what a particular task entails, and that creating a process is an extra step that they don’t need.  However, in 2009, Atul Gawande released The Checklist Manifesto which shared, among other stories, the vast improvements that a simple surgical checklist provided in outcomes in operating rooms. Whether you work with agents, insurance consumers, or fellow insurance professionals, delivering the same output after performing similar tasks in a dependable time frame will build trust over time, especially if you are building a new relationship.

If  process-focus provides these four benefits (and there are more than just these four), we are changing the way to do business and that benefits the entire industry. If you’re looking at a process, and can’t find any of these benefits, ask questions and, if necessary, suggest an alternative that does provide these benefits. Insurance will always be a relationship-focused business, and having a view of your work as both an “art” and a “science” will ensure that you stay creative and engaged, leading to more innovative solutions, but  remember even artists follow a process.

(Carly Burnham, CPCU, MBA, has been in the insurance industry since 2004. She blogs at InsNerds.com and can be reached at bestreviewcomment@ambest.com.)


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