With more than three decades of experience in the insurance industry, Jon Winsbury, executive vice president – international, Gallagher Bassett, has had extensive experience dealing with crisis events across the globe. On April 22, Jon shared some of his insights and experience with insurance professionals around the country through a special webinar presentation - Adapting with Confidence – COVID-19 Crisis Response and Operational Resilience Strategies.
As a self-described “passionate insurance professional”, Winsbury spoke at length on how businesses can effectively strategise during this challenging period for the insurance industry, highlighting three key areas of importance.
- Focus on the micro and the macro
Traditionally, Winsbury explained, businesses tend to take an attitude that C-suite executives deal with the wider company strategy (macro) while line managers and employees focus on the day-to-day tasks to execute that vision (micro).
But crisis situations like the COVID-19 pandemic require leaders to consider both the macro and the micro. For example, while executives might normally be concerned with big picture issues such as the effects of government decisions and global trends, there’s now a need to be more intimately involved with day-to-day level concerns – is customer service being delivered effectively, for example, and how is this being tracked?
Winsbury stressed that such processes are reliant on good cross-departmental communication. In his own case, he records video messages which both outline his expectations for employees while also thanking them for their contributions – however, your own organisation’s needs will vary.
- Reversing the pressure
In a time of crisis, there is significant pressure for organisations to respond quickly to a torrent of inbound activity, which makes it very easy to be reactive rather than proactive, without even meaning to. But by being proactive and reaching out to clients to address their concerns, you will be taking steps to reverse at least some of that pressure on both yourself and them. Taking a proactive approach, Winsbury notes, also means that you’re able to move from being controlled by wider circumstances to taking back some control for yourself.
“It’s not a pitch for new work, it’s not a sales pitch,” noted Winsbury. Rather, he clarifies, it’s an extension of what you should already be doing as an insurance professional – reaching out to clients to ensure that their needs are being met. It may mean difficult conversations, but they are all conversations better had sooner rather than later.
- Never stop learning
Businesses need to think beyond the now and look to the future, even in the midst of a crisis, notes Winsbury. Accordingly, he cautions to be wary of “expediency” and to look towards pragmatism instead.
“I’ve always said that a company’s culture, vision and mission statement and its history are its moral compass,” says Winsbury.
In such a context, he explains, expediency can be useful – but it can also be “evil”, leading the company down a path of making decisions that your business would not normally make. Employees must be a guardian of their own culture and mission statement, even in a catastrophe.
Ultimately, Winsbury stresses, businesses are in a dynamic environment. The current situation will serve as a learning experience for the next disaster. This isn’t to downplay the seriousness of the current situation, of course – more to note that insurance companies must be well-equipped to tackle these issues and continue to provide service to their clients.
To hear the full contents of the webinar, click here.