Romero Expert Insights Series: Motivation

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As part of our 2023 insights initiative at Romero Insurance Brokers, we will be highlighting team leaders across the Romero Group. Over 12 months, The Romero Group will showcase 12 important figures, each from different departments and different disciplines.

Number five in our Insights Series is Sharon Elms, Claims Manager for Romero Insurance Brokers. Sharon has been with Romero for over ten years, she started as a claims handler, moving to a senior and now residing as the Claims department’s Manager. Leading from a management position for over five years, Sharon’s experience shines through when discussing employee engagement, motivation and her use of KPIs.


What are your roles and responsibilities?

I am the Claims Manager. I look after 19 staff. Above me is the Claims Director, Jody Thirkell, and Stuart Dobbins our Technical Director Claims Director. My responsibilities are to make sure the team runs smoothly, know on a day-to-day basis what work needs to be done and ensure all our targets are met, I have a small caseload myself so I also liaise with clients and deal with their claims on a daily basis. My role is really varied but ultimately, I ensure that the team provides an excellent service, whether it’s a email, visit or a call and that we are more than just a post box.

What are the work processes within a Claims department?

Each claims handler will always deal with a certain set of clients, by doing this they tend to build a really good relationship with the client and know how their business works. The handlers will deal with the claims from cradle to grave and ensure that any claim settlement is in the client’s best interest. Being able to build a relationship with both clients and those working around you is so important in a claims team. As well as a service, we provide advice and guidance to many of our clients. Claims tend to go way and beyond, talking to clients about their needs and problem solving. It’s that personal touch and professional service that I don’t think they’d get with any other broker.

Furthermore, every month my team fill out their own individual KPI form. This lists key performance indicators, often including – Have all new claims done within 24 hours, Have tasks in diary no longer than 5 days. My staff also have a comments box at the bottom to share how they feel the month has gone whether good or bad.

This is useful for me because I am able to pick up on who’s had a good month or someone who is perhaps struggling, This helps me to understand in their own words what going on, and think on how best I can take measures to improve their performance or the situation

What is the single most important skill you need to have to perform your role successfully?

Multitasking. In my role, you tend to have to do lots of things at the same time. I’ll go from dealing with a claim, to maybe answering a staff member’s query, or the phone may ring, it’s just about keeping the plates spinning.

On occasions, there might be a problem with a claim or a client may be dissatisfied this can be quite intense and technical but it will always get resolved hopefully to the client’s satisfaction.

On top of your work responsibilities, as a manager you can become embroiled in a lot of staff’s personal issues – but I guess it depends on what type of manager you are. If you’re not approachable then staff won’t share their worries with you – but I’ve worked with a lot of my team before, and I know them on a personal level so I think some of them confide in me more than normal.

However, I think it’s important to be approachable as long as you know where to draw the line. I think if the team know you personally, you gain more respect from them. It’s a hard line to find, but once you draw the line, it can work perfectly.

What makes an inherently good leader?

A good leader is being a team player. Not sitting on your pedestal and dictating to everybody. Ask any of my staff, if anyone’s too busy I will roll my sleeves up and dig in to help them out. To me that’s a good leader as you are not micro-managing – you are leading by example as part of the team.

I’ve done their role, and I have been in their position, I know the struggles and obstacles. I can see all the brick walls my handlers face and I can help them understand how to overcome them.

As a leader you need to understand what makes people tick, and work well; it may be that some need to be spoken to differently or dealt with a certain way – but knowing someone comes with time.

How do you successfully motivate and engage employees within your team?

You can tell when people aren’t motivated by the way they behave, I believe there is a benefit when a manager sits amongst the team as you can hear and see what goes on, whether it be positive or bad. I feel I can spot when people need help and I will always ask what I can do to help them We have taken on many new clients recently, some with a heavily based motor fleet section and our motor team have been quite challenged but by sitting within the team you can manage and motivate team members.

It is hard to motivate people at times especially when they’ve got a lot of work to do, If you are negative, that will reflect within your attitude. Instead, being positive I believe will motivate the team.

What’s the best way of communicating within an organisation?

We’ve talked about this before in manager’s meetings. People need to be made aware of changes to the business, this is essential, but people know what is going on however this can be difficult at times.

Emails are a good way of communicating as they make points very clear, sometimes, I prefer to have huddles with my team. This enables me to let them know any news or items that have been raised but at the same time for them to provide feedback, it is always a open discussion.

I also have 1-to-1’s with the team, where I find individuals open up more. I try and do them for each team member every other month, as you will appreciate some people will chat more than others but one to ones are for staff to state how they are feeling and how they are getting on with their work/role.

On departmental changes, I would hope to think that my team is very well-informed.

We have manager’s meetings, which is where managers get a whole business update as well as departmental changes. I feel that the recordings that Simon [Mabb, Managing Director] produces are a great overview, and by doing this staff know what is going on.

Is there a universal piece of advice you would give to other managers potentially stepping into the role?

Listen to your staff. If you micro-manage and tell them what to do, it doesn’t work. Don’t be a closed book, always listen to people’s suggestions or comments and be willing to take them on board.

All managers are very different, I try not to let things get to me and I am more than happy to help the team with the day-to-day work if required. It’s my management style and it works for me and hopefully the team. No one ever gives you a book on how to be a manager, sometimes it can be challenging but other times it can be very rewarding.

Thank you to Sharon Elms, our Claims Manager, for their advice on the leadership, motivation and communication

To read more of the insight series, see here.

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