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.
Third in our Expert Insights Series at Romero Insurance Brokers, we talk to Technical Claims Director, Stuart Dobbins. Stuart has been with The Romero Group for four years having recently been promoted from Technical Claims Manager to Director. He manages our most complex and high-value cases, and describes how his preferred method of management is to set an example and lead from the front.
What are your roles and responsibilities?
My title is Technical Claims Director. My roles and responsibilities are myriad. The best way to describe it is being a brain in a jar. If there is a difficult complex technical thing happening, then it tends to come to me.
My job role also entails client visits, handling large and complex claims, doing claims reviews for clients – but the technical bit is basically ‘Is there a difficult problem? Who do we call?’ It’s me.
Sharon Elms, our Claims Manager, runs the clients team, and Jody Thirkell, the Claims Director, manages the responsibilities of the team. I support Jody and help Sharon as a referral point for the team. I also handle the more complex cases they are dealing with, I often lead on high value cases, shifting the responsibility to me.
As a Director, what is your preferred method of management?
Mentoring is an important part of my role as a senior team member. I am a mentoring presence for the team, I know it’s cliché but, my door id always open and the team can ask me anything and chat about their problems with certain cases.
I work one day a week alongside Senior Claims Handler, Lewis Jackson as his mentor. He sits opposite; and I think its valuable more important than anything, for Lewis to be around the conversations pertaining to complex case law and high-value claims discussions between Jody and I. He becomes a sounding board, but again, I try to help all the team individually.
We also do technical huddles, this is again a way for me to provide some soft influence. We group the team and discuss their various cases, working together to solve problems. I chair these seminars and they are really valuable for encouraging collegiate discussion.
Can you please walk us through your work process?
My roles are quite far reaching, and so I need to acutely manage my work processes. Firstly I do claims reviews, I have a list of high value clients that I’m keeping an eye on, so I work with claims handlers to ensure claims are moving along as they should.
Sharon will allocate cases to the handlers, but I have no allocation of cases, not as such. Instead I’m involved in a lot of cases, keeping close tabs on the complex ones. I also help new business, if there is an overview of the company for a prospect brief, for example – I comment on behalf of our excellent claims team.
I’ve got a lot of plates spinning at once.
How do you prefer to manage your workflow, and how does this compare to managing the workflow of your team members?
I use a diary system to manage my workflow. Because there are a lot of moving components, I set reminders and deadlines in our internal cloud management software. This acts as a fail safe for claims reviews. I also use a spreadsheet, it shows what’s due for the month and keeps me aware of various workflows.
It’s a bit old fashioned, but to-do lists are how I’ve always done things. I have a need-to-do folder in outlook, it helps me filter out the noise and prioritise the tasks that need doing.
What’s the next big trend in the field?
The insurance industry, and Claims in particular, is a competitive job market. And unfortunately, as with many sectors currently in the news, the big trend is job hopping and career changes. And what we’ve noticed, talking to members and people at other places, the grass isn’t necessarily greener. Loyalty is well rewarded at The Romero Group. Most brokers won’t look after their employees like Romero do.
At Romero, management really try to take care of people. And they are not sat in their ivory tower – staff can talk to anyone as their door is always open.
How do you prefer to lead?
I prefer to lead by example. It’s perhaps an easy thing to say but it’s true. It’s important for managers to set a tone. This includes treating people with respect and having manners. People look to managers for their decision and support – there is no passing the buck when you are a manager so you needed to be willing to work hard and be seen doing so. Get in early, leave after your team members, don’t defer tasks. I prefer to be in the vanguard leading the line – showing I am willing and able to do tasks.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give future directors?
Good manners. It’s really important that directors acknowledge emails and show appreciation when an employee has done a service for you. Treating people with respect is of the utmost importance. 99.9% of the time, people are doing their best, so appreciate them. Do this and directors won’t go far wrong.
I’ve learned this from Justin [Romero-Trigo, CEO of Romero Insurance Brokers]. He always says thanks at the bottom of emails and I believe it makes all the difference.