– June 10, 2013
Everything we know in life started back in kindergarten. Kindergarten is where we learned to socialize in groups, lived by rules, played well with others, managed time, took turns asking questions and listened to authority. Success and creativity were rewarded and failures became further learning experiences. The more I thought about this recently the more I realized that kindergarten is a perfect example of a well-functioning organization and management.
We can lean a lot by going back to kindergarten. Bear with me and let’s take a look how this would apply in a claims department.
Relating to others
As in kindergarten, managing claim files effectively requires the ability to socialize well with others both inside and outside the organization. The good claim professional knows how to get along with his or her peers and relates well to claimants who are facing some kind painful loss. In addition, to be a successful claims professional it is important to be able to work well in teams and share and learn from the group. All quintessential lessons learned in kindergarten.
Time management is a key element in handling claims. Like kindergarten, everything needs to be done at a specific time. With large caseloads and ever increasing demands, the effective claims professional manages their time very well using diary reminders and focusing on the tasks at hand. A well-structured day allows the claims professional to address file demands in a consistent and timely manner.
Controlled creative thinking
Kindergarten encourages a controlled environment with guidelines that still allows for the expression of creativity. Think finger painting. Finger painting allowed one to be wildly creative but still had to be done on the specific paper, in a specific area under certain rules. Best practices are frameworks that good claims handlers follow to ensure they are managing files in a timely and fair manner. Regardless of the claims guidelines or best practices however, creativity in thinking and managing files is essential in achieving some of the best results. Out of the box approaches to challenging claims issues are welcome and these creative approaches make for very successful operations (see Improve bottom-line outcomes on claims by thinking outside-the-box!).
Rewarding success and learning from mistakes
Kindergarten is about establishing the framework for children to succeed in primary school and ultimately in life. Successes are actively and openly rewarded and shared with the group. Conversely, failures and mistakes are not punished but rather used as learning experiences to encourage and promote improvement. Good claims managers work the same way and openly praise success and work with mistakes to make people better and foster improvement. It is important to have both. While this is business and there are certainly instances where continued failures must have consequences, regardless, working to correct mistakes often creates a more cohesive high performing organization.
Let’s be clear, Kindergarten Management is not saying employees are children and needed to be treated that way. That is not the message here. Kindergarten Management is going back to the basics and working to foster a fun but controlled working environment that encourages the overall development of not only the individual but the group as a whole.
What other lessons from the past would be good examples of how management?