September 18, 2018

Archives for June 2012

Adjusters Working Harder AND Smarter: Going the Extra Mile

Sometimes in today’s 21st century workplace, it’s what you accomplish on the job after 5:00 PM that makes a difference.  I recall as a child growing up, my Dad arrived home at 4:30 every afternoon. I could virtually set my watch (if I wore one in those carefree days) by when his car rolled in as I waved and played in the neighborhood streets.  My Dad was no slacker.

Nowadays, someone who is home from work by 4:30 PM is likely the exception, not the norm.  Most everyone works at least 9-to-5 these days.  In fact, chances are, they are working earlier and longer.  It seems as though the work day has stretched.  (This must be due to all the “time-saving technologies, eh?”)

Particularly early in one’s career, the best investment to make is extra margin, extra effort.  Over time, management should notice that you have extended your work day in order to get more accomplished.  There is nothing wrong with being known for having a strong work ethic.  Some say that consistency is “the new radical” – just showing up, day after day, week after week, month after month.  This evokes Woody Allen’s quip comment that, “90% of success in life comes from just showing up.”

Woody has a kernel of wisdom but his quip masks a reality.  You must do more than just show up.  As an effective claims person, you must produce and get results.  You must do more than just take up space.  The daily challenge is – how do you add value to your work team, your department, your company through those extra hours and through that extra effort?

Forget Clock-Watching

By the same token, it can be career-killing to be seen as a “clock watcher.”  If you put in the extra time, make sure it is productive time.  Just occupying space will earn you no points.  Visibility for visibility’s sake is pointless.  You are wasting your time and your company’s/.  Plus, it’s boring to hang back at the office just to boost your visibility.

It’s the extra effort that helps set you apart.  For example:

  •  Make the extra phone call.  Maybe there is a lawyer or client in another time zone you can catch before leaving the office.  Initiate the call.
  • Type or dictate the additional letter or claim report.
  • Send an email propping a date and time for a needed conference call, with an agenda.
  • Pull one more file, maybe a couple, from tomorrow’s diary and get ahead on your diary.
  • Take one more stab at trying to track down that elusive witness.

Invest the extra effort.

It’s About Results, not Hours Logged

Make sure it’s productive effort, though.  The extra effort must yield demonstrable positive results.  This can become tougher once the clock strikes 5 PM.  An after-hours claims office has a different vibe after hours.  Co-workers and other colleagues let their (proverbial) hair down and may be more inclined to drop in and socialize or ruminate.  Some of this is necessary in order to get along, but bull sessions after hours are not productive and not what were discussing here.  Pro sports have a term for bench players sent in at the end of decided games to pad their stats or get some playing time.  This is called, appropriately, “garbage time.”

Make sure that you’re not putting in “garbage time,” relatively unproductive time spent in chit chat.

Have specific goals for how you want to spend the hours until 6:00 PM or 7:00 PM.  Use the time productively but don’t be a fixture in the office just so that you can be visible to higher ups.  Work hard.  At times, work long.  But work effectively, then get out of the office.  Relax, recharge and address the other crucial parts of your life.

Do not equate sheer number of hours worked with effectiveness.  There are claims people who can accomplish in six hours what it takes others eight or ten to do.  Hard work has a qualitative as well as a quantitative dimension.

Moral:  don’t necessarily equate long hours with effectiveness on the job.  It doesn’t matter how long you spin your wheels if you don’t get results.

Have there been times in your claims career where you felt the extra hours on a task, project or file paid off disproportionately?  Any times where you felt it did not pay off at all? 

Six Ways to Record Your Claim Successes

Here is a success habit that claim professionals can cultivate:  keep track – on paper or on (backed up) hard drive – of your job accomplishments year-round.  Capture and record your professional successes.

This comes in handy when you have your annual performance appraisal.  It can also be useful if you ever ask for a raise, a promotion or tune-up your resume.  The utility goes beyond your current position, whether you are a trainee adjuster, a seasoned adjuster, Claims Manager or Vice President of Claims.

Future employers or prospective employers are bound to ask questions like, “What do you consider your three biggest professional accomplishments?”  If you systematically catalog your entire inventory of job-related successes – from the small to the significant – chances are that nothing will fall through the proverbial cracks in your memory.  Then, you can cujll through, picking and choosing the ones that stand out.

The temptation, though, is to wait to conduct this inventory until just before your annual review is coming up, or when you need to freshen up your resume due to a layoff.

This rarely works.

If you wait till the end of the year, you’re unlikely to remember them all.  So instead, follow these steps:

1.  Write it down!  Keep a running tab.  Do it while it is still fresh in your mind.

2.  Go digital.  Set up a computer file of kudos and accomplishments.  Add to it regularly.

3.  Be regular.  Put on diary, or “tickler” a reminder to update this “success list” periodically, perhaps every month.  You can use software tools such as Microsoft Outlook to remind you to perform certain tasks like this on a recurring basis.

4.  Focus on outcomes, not efforts.  Working ten hours a day instead of eight may show your industriousness as a claims person, but what good is it by itself?  This leads to the next tip.

5.  Emphasize “deliverables” and quantifiable metrics:  files closed, average payment per case, file turnover, projects and ideas that saved time, money or which improved client/customer service.

6.  Look inward for operational gains.  Cite ways that you have improved internal claim operations:  for example, training and orientation of new hires, using Internet job search resources to fill openings instead of expensive recruiters, creating a new internal claims training module or career development sessions for the adjusting staff, etc.

In many cases, the boss may come to you before your performance review to ask you to self-assess your job accomplishments over the past year.  See this as a prime opportunity to catalogue your achievements.  Many may have otherwise escaped the boss’ notice.  Or maybe they received the boss’ notice, but are now forgotten in the crush of business.

If you have been keeping track, then this is not a stress-inducing request.  It certainly helps answer any question along the lines of, “What have you done for me lately?”

It is also a useful discipline, even in the absence of any boss-generated request.  If you can’t think back to how you’ve added value to your department, company or work team recently, you had better get cracking.

Now, if anyone asks, “What have you done for me lately?” you are ready with a detailed answer!

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 PERSONAL NOTE:  The Claims Coach is in the process of moving and relocating to the Richmond, VA area during the week of June 18th.  As a result, there may be a few week’s hiatus until the next blog posting.

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