By Jim Lombardo, CPCU, AAI, AIM, MBA, AVP of Learning & Development
Many, many years ago, I had a manager whom I admired a lot. He seemed to have great relationships with all involved- peers, employees, carriers and clients. As my career progressed and I started to manage more and more people, and I had to deal with all of the responsibilities, challenges, rewards and, yes, silliness that comes with management, I often reflected back to what he once told me about the Three F's. He said, “Jim, you must always be Firm, Fair and Friendly!" To this day, I think that might be one of the best bits of advice I was ever given.
He went on to explain…
Firm- You cannot be perceived as wishy-washy- When you make decisions or give direction, you must be firm in how you deliver it. You must be clear in how you communicate it- it can't come back later as “I didn't know what you meant" or, “I wasn't clear so I did it this way". Make sure to take out any chance of being misunderstood.
Fair- Treat everyone fairly. This doesn't mean equally! It was a great lesson that I learned early on. We all have that one (or hopefully two or three) employee that is a star. They do what needs to be done and do it correctly and on time. They don't need handholding and don't go rogue. You trust they will make the right call and do what is in the best interest of your firm. Then you have other employees who you also treat well- just not equal to your star. This may seem wrong or not politically correct, but it is smart management. If an employee consistently delivers quality results and goes above and being without much directive from you then they need to be treated differently- but fairly. They do, however, sometimes make decisions without consulting you but that is because they have a proven track record and you have trusted their wisdom in the past.
Friendly- Referring to the two notes above, always be friendly! You can be firm in your message without being mean or abrupt. You can treat everyone fairly without showing blatant disregard to someone's feelings or circumstances. The old proverb that you get more bees with honey rather than vinegar applies here.
Great advice that has helped me over the years. Do you have any words of wisdom that guide you?
Here are a few upcoming webinars/classes that may help with some managerial responsibilities.
AAI 83 B The Insurance Production Environment
ABEN Ethical Issues - Personal and Organizational
Culture, Ethics and E&O: The Right Way To Run An Agency