Or perhaps more accurately, speaking on insurance claims with various groups is always a learning experience. In nearly 15 years of working with claims response and management there are always new loss dynamics that call upon our teams to rise to the challenge as we meet the needs of our clients. Speaking with groups of insurance agents, restoration professionals or property owners, as we will be doing this month, brings to light new questions and experiences to add to our archives of interesting damages.
Networking with professionals brings opportunities to learn something new. As such, I am excited about the depth of resources available in the Eugene, Oregon community for personal and professional growth. Lane County Rental Owner's Association (ROA), which happens to be the group that I will be speaking with at least twice this year, has built an impressive network of property owners who meet monthly for education. Local Facilities Manager's Connection (LFMC) is a discussion based peer to peer networking group of facilities, maintenance and risk professionals that meet to strengthen their community of professionals. Eugene Young Professionals Summit (YPS) will return this year for their second annual meeting after a successful launch of gathering over 300 participants for their local interactive event. Eugene Active 20-30 is a group of young professionals who volunteer their time and resources to raise money to make a difference in the lives of local youth in need. Are you aware of all the resources available to you in your community?
Find your voice and get to work doing good things in your community. Whether it's writing, speaking, supporting or acting, put your talents to work. If you want to learn more about claims or are looking to network with property owners, join us for our presentation with Lane Rental Owner's Association and read our article, Three Key Questions When Filing An Insurance Claim, published in the ROA monthly publication. As noted in said article, "In life we don’t always need to know the answer to every question, but knowing what questions to ask and who can help us find answers are critical tools for survival." Regardless of your quest, personal or professional, value added partnerships will assist you to propel you onward towards your dreams.
Whenever there is an issue such as consistently high turnover, strong leaders understand that the key to success is always having someone to blame.
Have you been placed in a leadership position? Are you often frustrated by the inefficiency of having several employees standing around the company water cooler talking shop? There they are again, drinking the water we provide, standing there talking about who-knows-what. What are they talking about, it’s probably negative, right? What does a strong leader* do, they make hard decisions and in a scenario like the one described above – they make the tough administrative order to rid the office of the true culprit of interpersonal discontinuity, that god-forsaken water cooler. That’s how accountability works, remove the source of the problem (More on Eliminating Blame).
[Before we proceed, for the sake of clarity (as sarcasm is missed by many), the above reference to the strong leader* is loosely referring to an individual that is much the opposite]
Now that the water cooler is gone, it’s time to tackle even more complex issues. In the water-distribution-unit-less organization there still exists an issue with costly employee turnover. An organization that is a revolving door of employees leaving the company via an ever widening door on stage left, has to invest in attracting, hiring and training new hires. The same individuals who have been placed in a position of leadership and who rid their subject organizations of hostile water coolers are the same who frequent their own watering holes to lament about the good old days when employees were loyal.
Even though people of our caliber would never be invited to sit in on such a meeting of the minds, if we could be a fly on the wall listening to the discourse regarding why such leaders believe employees leave their fine organizations we would likely hear the following:
Consistently high turnover may be one of the deepest drains on organizational growth as it perpetuates a stasis in the development of employees, inhibits engagement and results in an inconsistent offering to clients. New employees can bring a fresh perspective to a company but without a clear and consistent process an organization will struggle with a clear identity that will assist to attract and keep quality employees. Consistently high turnover sends an alarm to prospective hires and clients, warning them to proceed with caution when engaging with your company. Yet, for the strong leaders that we have been referencing that same alarm is either ignored or is amplified in a pitch that they cannot recognize.
Author Travis Bradberry who co-wrote Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and frequently contributes to revered publications such as Forbes, notes that, “Managers tend to blame their turnover problems on everything under the sun, while ignoring the crux of the matter: people don't leave jobs; they leave managers.”
If you are an individual in a position of leadership who has consistently high turnover and you blame your employees, don’t ask painful questions and do little to change the trend – than you are reaping the situation that you deserve. Change on the other hand requires listening taking a painful internal inventory and asking earnest questions as to reasons why the organization is unable to attract, motivate and keep high quality employees. Dear leader - bring the water cooler back and the next time there is a gathering of employees don’t wait until you are at your exclusive leadership watering hole to discuss your frustrations but engage your actual team, you may find the answers are closer than you thought (More on Conflict).
As American’s you would think the lessons learned from our most recent economic collapse which affected so many businesses, organizations and families would not be soon forgotten. Yet, when the going get’s back to going we often fall back into a sense of security and even our prior habits. Our family has struggled to dig ourselves out of a financial crater that resulted from the collapse of our family based construction business. While we have filled some holes in, there were holes we couldn’t fill and several holes that we are still filling back in. As part of that experience there was a period of time in our lives where we needed to utilize government assistance for food as our income had been reduced to just fractions of what it had been. We were raising three babies as well as a young child for which we were able to find assistance first through the WIC and food stamps which provided assistance for many our nutritional needs. Yet even with this food allocation there were additional challenges as many of our expenditures were in things like diapers, wipes and baby formula which were not items that were supplied through government assistance that we could find and many of the resources available through the community were limited in what they could offer due to high demand for these essential items. We were life imitating art as expressed by Eminem’s song Lose Yourself, “Best believe somebody’s paying the Pied Piper. All the pain inside amplified by the fact that I can’t get by with my 9 to 5. And I can’t provide the right type of life for my family ‘cause man, these goddamn food stamps don’t buy diapers.”
I can remember the gutted feeling of going to the Department of Health and Human Services feeling like a failure, feeling like I worked too hard and didn’t belong in this place begging the government to help our family. Through a process of proving our need and our self employment income we finally received the food stamp assistance, I was pleased that the benefits were now on an Oregon Trail EBT card rather than the monopoly money that I remember from my childhood. We were thankful to have the help and because we had a larger family, the allowance from the government was a decent payment each month that enabled us to reduce the pressure of the pressure of having to worry about providing nourishment for our young family. One amount provided at the beginning of the month creates a need to be studious, disciplined and thrifty. By being creative and learning from others who were going through the same issues we were able to make our food allowance stretch through the month while eating a fairly healthy diet. Some of our families’ favorite meals are culinary innovations were concocted in the laboratory of necessity by utilizing the ingredients that were available to us.
While our nation, or leaders and our families need to remember our not so distant past as we move forward, the only area that we have control of is our own experience moving forward. I know those who came through The Great Depression are forever impacted by the struggle of those years in American history. Our experience of being on government assistance is one that we are conscious to never forget, we are grateful for the help of those resources provided by the government, as well as the generosity of family and friends that carried us through our leanest times to date (there are so many humbling stories of people supporting us). Truth be told, those hard times may have been some of our best times as they forced us to be creative and to work together as a family. Our kids were too young to remember the details of the experience but they do remember some of the recipes and as noted above they are some of their favorites which create opportunities to remind them of lessons our family has learned. We recently met as a family to discuss creative methods for trimming our budget so that we could distribute our resources into areas that matter to us as a group. One area that we thinned our spending was in our grocery shopping, which was already lean when compared with other families we had discussed our ideas with. To make the process fun, to maintain a level of health and to challenge ourselves to try new things we have mixed our process to include boys vs. girls, food style challenges and themed meals all while staying within a budget that mirrors the parameters of the SNAP challenge by averaging $3 or less per person per day for three meals. Some of these family experiments we have documented on our Youtube page such as our challenge to utilize hominy in a video we titled E-hominy.com.
Keep your lessons close. Be creative, be accountable and be a part of the solution.
Project managers don't have the market on efficiency, but they do have insights on how to juggle multiple responsibilities, adjust to evolving complexities and reach mission objectives. Emotional intelligence as it relates to working with diverse people within a team is an essential skill when developing positive dynamics. As outlined in our recent article published with Project Management Times, If you have dysfunction in your team, the cost may be higher than you want to admit but the cure may also be closer than you realize. Our article entitled The Cause, Cost And Countermeasure To Conflict In An Organization discusses ideas for understanding sources of conflict as well as how to reduce and resolve these issues.
Thoughts on personal and professional development.
Jon Isaacson, The Intentional Restorer, is a contractor, author, and host of The DYOJO Podcast. The goal of The DYOJO is to help growth-minded restoration professionals shorten their DANG learning curve for personal and professional development. You can watch The DYOJO Podcast on YouTube on Thursdays or listen on your favorite podcast platform.