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Thought leadership, insights, and success stories

Business Leadership Series Part 6: Run the Operation

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Parts 1-5 of this business leadership series helped you set the foundation to run the business successfully. Now you are ready to zero in on the challenges and opportunities that will have the biggest impact on your customers and on your bottom line. It’s time to put words into action and start running the business each day.

As a leader, you need to be organized. A calendar is key to keep an eye on what’s ahead as well as being transparent and aligned with your teams. You want to know when you’re doing what and make sure the whole organization knows what to expect. Getting everyone marching in the same direction is critical. We host ‘all hands’ meetings on a quarterly basis to report on results every quarter, share how we’re doing on key levers and what we need to focus on to improve and grow.

Operating rhythm

On a more regular basis, usually monthly, the senior team and I look at operations, metrics and services. We’ve identified what elements are controllable and most impactful. Since we know what we should be paying attention to, we go over those metrics in detail for each department.

Planning your operating rhythm is extremely helpful to keep things running smoothly. A calendar that visually outlines the cadence of different communications, meetings, and topics that everyone should be involved in on a regular monthly, quarterly, and/or annual basis is a great tool. It ensures everyone manages their time and expectations properly and feels prepared to solve the business’s challenges.

The operating rhythm also gives the organization a full picture on how we work, how we operate, how often we meet on key topics, and what we’re focused on. For example, if you look at the sample operating rhythm chart below, you'll see that strategic planning happens from July to September, client reviews happen quarterly and annual employee reviews are completed January through March. Once you've established your calendar, share it with your organization as a way to keep the team organized. It tells your team with clarity that this is how we’re going to work. It also provides a roadmap for the meetings they’ll be a part of and lets them know what to expect and what leadership expects from them.


Measuring and monitoring

The type of business you run will, in large part, dictate the specific metrics you should use to monitor your success. Overall, however, every business should focus some attention on the following types of metrics:  business operations, customer service, and financials. Strategic initiatives should also be measured and tracked, since those initiatives are focused on making your business bigger and better. Plus you and your team have determined that they are the key projects you need to focus on to improve the business’s level of success.

Three questions you should always ask when reviewing metrics

When reviewing metrics with your leadership team, always focus on the following three questions: What? Why? What? No matter what the metric always ask:

  1. What are results?
  2. Why are they the way they are?
  3. What are you doing about it if you’re not meeting your target? (Or if you are, what are you doing next?

These three simple questions are really useful for a few reasons. People get used to hearing them and come prepared to answer them as we look at the metrics together. They also allow you to get to the important part of the conversation with speed and clarity – if three things are going great, but one is not so good, I want to talk about that one thing. What did you find out? What are the root causes of not hitting the target? What are you doing to solve the root cause and improve results? Is it a long-term issue? What do you know about the problem?

The team that owns the metric needs to understand why the results look the way they do – and leadership needs that insight, too. If the team understands the root cause, then it’s a lot easier to develop solutions and get on the path to improvement.

The next and final step in our business leadership series offers guidance on how to motivate the team to deliver the best result possible. 

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Written by: Raymond DiDonna

Ray DiDonna is Senior Vice President, Head of Underwriting and Claims, responsible for leading all underwriting and claims business lines for the Americas unit of RGAX. Ray has been in the insurance industry for more than 30 years holding leadership roles at various organizations including The Hartford Group, General Electric and Phoenix Life Insurance Company.

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