Beyond the Claim
Beyond the Claim

Episode 7 · 4 months ago

Specialists or Generalists: Which Talent Should You Focus On? w/ Pat Hildt


Would you rather have somebody working for you who is really skilled in one area or acceptable in a number of different areas? Beyond that, what are the long-term benefits, both from a cost perspective, but also in terms of customer retention and team culture, of having specialists and generalists on your team?

On this episode of Beyond the Claim, we talk with Pat Hildt. Pat, the Regional Claim Manager for the US, Canada, & Global Operations of Uber, had a lot to say about how she’s building her team to stay competitive, nimble, and efficient, and the role that specialists and generalists play in that hiring.

We talked all about:

  • Why she thinks talent is an innate capability in someone, and how to nurture and grow that talent
  • Why COVID has set the talent pool up for failure, and what you can do about it
  • Why you should look for middle ground, rather than embrace extremes
  • Why employees are burning out, and how you can slow that rate of burnout 

Need more claims strategy in your life? Check us out on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or on our website.

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for Beyond the Claim on your favorite podcast player.

Everything has become so fast paced that we expect people's ability to learn also be fast paced, and people are still people and need that opportunity to learn. You're listening to beyond the claim, the show for forward thinking risk and claims professionals. Carey is about the latest industry trends, winning strategies and stories from influential leaders. Let's dive in. Welcome to this episode of beyond the claim. I'm your host, Mark Cunningham, chief sales and marketing officer with broad spire. Today I have with meat regional claim manager for us and Canada, Canada global operations. Well, thank you mark, thanks for having me. Thank you for joining us. PAS. You know, this is typically we'll go down a path in these conversations where it's very focused on a set part of the process within our industry or trended in our industry. But really looking forward to you to your conversation. Was Gotten, because I know you're immense focused on people and talent and since we're in this kind of fourth quarter of this pandemic, hopefully it's become ever pressing when we have, you know, topics like the great recession. That's to be the great resignation and the great quick going on. I think the focus on talent is probably more present than ever before. Some rather looking forward to talking with you today. So tell me how, before we can go down the kind of what are you doing today? How did that come a primary focus of you and yours? The talent piece? I think that started way, way before when I was young. I am a first generation American. My parents got here right before I was born and I saw their work ethic and I saw how hard they worked to assimilate, to learn the language, to find a place for themselves to make a better life for my sister and I and the rest of the family, and so watching people from that vantage point made me realize how everyone has a talent. The question is where's the where's the fit for it, even in different types of organizations, and that you have to bring your whole self to work with that. I saw them go through both ways. I saw them go through trying to assimilate way too much to try and to bring them whole cells to work and talk about where they came from, and a lot of it was really hard to experience and watch and here. And so from from that point forward, as I got into a leadership position in the claims world. Talk about an industry that uses talents from all different skill sets. I mean in adjuster, where's many hats right, and so having empathy, being curious, learning about, you know, medicals and treatment and legal and and understanding all sorts of backgrounds when you're investigating lost wages and engineering reports. And so you can't put together a better example of an industry that can fit all sorts of talent if you're putting it in a place where that individual strengths are you you have yet for generation American, because I am as well. And to your point on, you know, assimilation and kind of balancing the line of what it means and how you express yourself and with that talent, I can definitely understand that. So I guess let me ask you something. Do you treat talent as a kind of a nurture nature type of situation? Is it something that you're warn with? Is something that you develop? Can it be expanded on, or are these inna capabilities that we're looking to identify and kind of refine? As I think they're NA capabilities that we should identify and refine and really play on the individual strength that doesn't mean that people shouldn't be given the support and courage to expand themselves, but they for me, I think that they do so better once they're already ingrained in what their strengths are. It would be boring if we didn't want to stretch right and you think that because I was reading an article. I think it's hardward visitor Ruer, and it was just around kind of kind of create a passion culture in one of the compons in there was high passion people and kind of get out...

...of the ways with my interpretation of because it's kind of what I live by as well. When you try to find the best high graptitude and then you you, you know, you trained for skill type of thing. What do you think that? If there are issued within our industry or just do within, you know, corporate American General, why do we struggle with if we do with a wowing talent to thrive? I think it's time. I think everything has become so fast paced that we expect people's ability to learn also be fast paced and people are still people and need that opportunity to learn. I think also, I can tell you back when I started in claims, you weren't put into a APD group to do physical damage, or you or you know, or a pip group or progress to a bodily injury group. I got everything. I got everything from the physical damage to attorney rap to litigation, and I also started with a self ensured like over thirty years ago, so that makes a difference too. But I am so grateful that I did, because that's what gave me the ability to say, Oh, yeah, you know, I've done something like that before, whereas what concerns me about where we are now is that people are coming into claims in the APD realm right because people think that's where you need to start, and they don't make it to the bodily injury piece because after two or three years of only doing APD, if that's not what your passion is, you burn out when you say, you know what, this industry isn't for me. Whereas somebody who can't keep up, perhaps with the volume and frequency of an APD desk, but they're meticulous and inquisitive and curious could be the absolutely perfect person for a bodily injury desk and they would naturally progress to where they have that friended right. They might not get there. We may never see thee there because they throw up their hands and they're not good with the with the volume in the productivity expectations. Even funny you get there's parallels to that kind of specialization focused within we do, but you you remind me of kind of the sports world, even with our children today, where, you know, you we were growing, we trying to expose them to everything, but at the same time today there's so many cans and programs to be a baseball player, be a gymnast either. Then you only do that and then it wears on your body and you don't have that general muscle fiber development that you would or we would have historically, and then you do get burned out. All right, and then now they have a single skill set that's not necessarily as universal or transferable as it once was. Right, absolutely, we actually had a model and so we had specialization, and it even deeper. This is on the benefit side. So we kind of broke out benefits programs where, you know, we were focused on maternity and we're focused on ecology, and so it was great because you had a repetition of dealing with individuals going through that period of life, but you became very silent in your focus and your day to day delivery. So it it limited career pathing it there were, they were depending on where you were aligned. There was burnout on a given topic because, yeah, pregnancy is great, but then if you're dealing with someone that's terminal consistently, that's difficult to result. So yeah, I agree with you. How do we do see us moving away from that at any point of time? Or how do we were you doing? You see it happening like a cycle, like since I have seen us go from doing everything to splitting everything out by line of business, whether it was auto, Gel or and workers comp right, so you went from it all to splipping it out, to slutting it out even more, like it in, you know, APD and wrapped and unwrapped USK and so forth, in in auto or gl and then now I'm starting to see that the realization is customers don't want to hear from so many different people on one claim and so, instead of thinking about really...

...doing it, because of the development of the person, the customers are driving the need for some of the carriers to go back in and say, okay, so maybe we keep this journey of the claim with one person and all of a sudden it's starting to creek back. But you know, the deal is that extremes are all bad. Yes, you know, we really want to win in the market. What you need to do is find that space that plays a little bit to and fro in the middle it. Do you think that we part of the reason? We that you mentioned experience, I mentioned the expense, but even we coive it away from there from a cost and point and we thought that compartmentalizing and segmenting would be more cost santangious. So it's going to be an appetite. So then go back to the generous model where you know expenses could be higher. I don't know. I don't know the way. I don't know the rule ever swing all the way back, because there's so much out of the gate in the data that shows that there is a certain level of benefit to specialization. But again, extremes are bad. So at what point do you do? You try to get creative and really challenge yourself to not do what we've always done and and think about this is what we learned from the specialization and up to this point there's no returnal investment. If we make it so tight. And the same thing with the general the generalization piece. Right, we know that there are pieces of it that really didn't function and didn't work. So what parts of it work and then and then create that blended model. Well, hopefully we're all, you know, one of the issues with the circular effect of things that we do in this, you know, the world some times is not everybody is still around when it comes from sort and forget the lessons of the falls and end up repeating those things. So hopefully we're better at capturing that and that you know, it's it's coming through and we're all still here to help support the you know, getting back to the happy middle, middle ground. So what are you doing as a as a leader of people, leader of talent, or developing talent to get to that type of model or that type of environment? So that all comes down to investing in development and really understanding what you were group that you're leading is made up of, where their strengths and talents are, but then also creating really different paths for them to follow. We all know we talked about development plans these days, but development doesn't necessarily equal moving up a ladder, getting back to people being excited about the lateral moves that will give them all the the experience and even more questions for them to ask, to give them a better line of sight on on what they want to spend most of their day doing every day. It has to align with their it has to align with their values and their passions and I know that that's a lot of cliche talk that's out there, but there's a reason it's out there and and it's very true. What we do in claims is not easy. We're talking and or working with people when they have had a really huge impact happen in their lives. They didn't account for whether it's, you know, a personal auto policy or commercial one these days, were it's a business who who's had, you know, a tragic event happen, and so adjusters are on the front lines and, you know, people make a lot of assumptions like this person doesn't care. They're just going to see that we get less than than what we're asking for and in my experience through my career that it could not be farther from the truth. So So, how given lured twenty months, twenty one of this pandemic, I'm sure have a pandemic complicated that effort for you at all. You know, I think actually, for a time there it actually made people more tolerant and patient of one another and understanding and forgiving, because everybody was going through almost the same thing... one time. Everybody was going to have to be working from home, which you know, before was a mix right. Everybody either knew somebody, unfortunately or or it was themselves, or it was once or twice removed that either had suffered through covid or unfortunately suffered a loss through covid. There seemed to be more of an appetite during the first, I would say three quarters of this to to try to be more understanding of one another. And then, you know, who knows what the new norm will look like? Absolutely right you. Are you doing anything differently? Are you pivoting at all and how you approach talent development, of people development, because you know, in anticipation of what that normally I am I don't know if it's so much pivoting, because a lot of these things I felt strongly about before code. But what I do recognize is I'm taking advantage of the greater capacity that's given to me to dive right in and recognizing how important the the retention of our folks are and the attraction of our talent is. It's always been important, but in this day and age right now, where everyone is fighting for talent and everyone has just come from being walked in for so long. You know, getting back to your original question of how I'm making that happen for the team that I have right now is clearly I'm not in I'm not working at a carrier, I'm outside, inside of Risk Management Department of a business, but I'm making sure that we find a way to connect them to the greater business for them to see all the avenues. It's not you come into our department and this is where you're going to stay forever. You're more than welcome to stay as long as you like and you're performing, but if there's some other way that I can export talent to other parts of the organization, I've told my direct leaders that we want to leave a legacy of being hey, we need somebody who can be here in marketing or in safety or in another group. Wonder if that claims group have somebody that might really work well with our group, because I think people forget is as an adjuster in a claims group. You've got a lot of transferable skills. A lot of transferable skills, so you have many paths that that you can go and I'm happy to keep as many people that want to stay, but I'm also as happy to be able to export that talent. I command you for that. I mean I I was surprised, maybe naively surprised, as I've kind of taken on more responsibilities throughout my career, how much of that does not happen, because I looked at it, as you know, I would. I think I want people to make sure they feel a part of something, that they career path is accessible, that doesn't have to be linear, and I've various organization has been so much shocked actually that, whether it's, you know, unconscious or conscious, essential or not, the limitations that some leaders, or I would income leaders, maybe managers, are putting on themselves in the individuals that reports of them, and it's unfortunate because it has the tarial impact, and not just the career for that in a bit of which is critical, but also just the ability to deliver your organizational your organization's expectations, because you have someone that's just not engaged to agree that they could be. Absolutely if you, if you invest in that individual and that individual knows that you are thinking about yes, I'm here for a business, but I'm also seeing the potential in you. If you invest in that individual, the the return on investment is is unbelievable. So then extrapolate that across a team and so forth. The the energy is amazing and and I one of the things that excites me so...

...much about what I'm doing now is that I'm surrounded not just by the the direct reports that I have that that's their first and foremost value and goal, but I'm surrounded by colleagues and peer Rs, you know, and and some leaders that also that also see that benefit. It's not that. Yeah, it's not the you know. Well, if you don't make it here, you don't make it here. That's that's not, that's not. That wouldn't be for me and that's not what it is for me and it's not for the organization that I lead. That's fantastic to hear. You're right, because if you're you're not surrounded by we're not going to be monolithic, but if you're not surrounded by light minded individuals and you're trying to deliver that kind of that corporate objective consistently. It's difficult to it's difficult deliver when you're bringing an Eland. I'll tell you this. The I have I have right now, I have five direct reports and while we all have the same core beliefs, how they deliver it and their experiences are all completely different, all completely different, and it is it is fascinating to watch the success that comes when when I just let get them get their minds together. We all, you know, put ourselves and focus on something and we get it done. So how do you whether it be, you know, reflecting on a prior life or even as you're working to kind of help coach and develop leaders, mentorship or otherwise hot where do you use where do you start? Where you see opportunities to guide folks that they don't typically recognize on their own? I think that each individual has to recognize inside of them how they react acting to situations, especially as a leader, and I am by no means perfect. I have learned from all my past mistakes and I'm sure I'll make future mistakes and I know I've made some currently today. But the point is that as as a leader who's coaching someone. You have to be humble enough to share and be vulnerable enough to share. Look, I understand why you see this way. I understand what you're going through. I may not have gone through the exact same thing, but let's think about it another way. Let's talk about and, and I know you've heard this before properly, but one of the things that stuck in my mind from a leader I had years ago was assuming good intentions. It's really easy to have a conversation in your head about everything that just happened and answer yourself with what you think actually happened in that exchange. Right, we've all done it and and and I know I've done it. But I've also got myself into the habit of okay, who can I talk to that I can trust to talk myself off this ledge and see the other point of this, because at the end of the day, most people have good intentions and and the ones that you think don't have good intentions, you're probably a bit wrong on those two. Must that same leader some point, because that I use that often and I realize that it's not well known actually and probably have annoying folks byten. I say. But I did begree with you that. You know, especially in this data driven, you know, tech driven days when you're not even interacting face to face a little person. We were acting for messages are emails. It's not always, you know, the days of the hay that use all caps. That means are mad. It's not that simple anymore. Not that simple anymore. And in the data driven world, I think data is fabulous. I think what it does is give us a road map or a signal to tell us that a result has changed. But it doesn't take the place of talking to the people who create the results, of understanding what drove the results, and it doesn't take the place of understanding even the behaviors and how they intersect with the expectations. Right.

And so you and I could talk for a really long time on this basic I'm sure we could. So actually, I let me ask you then, so if you're you're looking at see me maybe, whether it's opportunities to better utilize, you know, that data, or a better utilize that we interact people. If you're given that that magic wand of I want to, yeah, implement this across the board. I want to make this a staindard inspiretation in our lives. I just want to make a small change. You know, and how we operate. What we what do you? What do you do? What do we have a communication? I think we have to learn how to talk to each other. Again, you said something just now, a few minutes ago. That is at the center of my magic wand we live in sound bites, we live in channels or or, you know, g chat, or whatever your flavor is that you use in your organization, and it is so easy to misunderstand one another. Show easy and because of that we spend more time trying to correct something that it's understood then we do on executing on what we meant in the first place. And so I think tech is great, obviously for a lot of reasons. And I go back to the same thing I said about the extremes before. Yes, use these things as tools. Let's not assume that any of them should be so much the norm as of becoming more intuitive of which tool we have to pull out of our toolbox when to be effective and successful. And so communication is at the bottom of every really bad result I've seen. Somebody or some group has misunderstood something on how to build something, on how to fix something, on how to execute on something, and it can be as easy as a quick approval on a chat and then later finding out, oh, that's not what I thought you meant. You know, the communication aspect. It's and I thinks at all ask because our lives and whether your relationships or be, you know, the financials, your religion, your whatever, we were able to have that want extend beyond are really you know, corporate environment. I think we could dramatically politics change the world from absolutely and and I'm not professing as I say, these things that I wish to happen or I see how they happen. I'm not trying to say that I do these things all right, mark, because I certainly don't. But I think I think the attempt is worth it for all of us and and I talked about it with my grown children all the time, but I think the communications you mentioned ties back to assume positive intent, giving someone at ability to actually to listen and absorb what they're standing before you're already responding in your head. So there's so many good points. Who that all tie back to that keep an interaction, whether it be virtual, digital or not. That I think we as a country of the world have an opportunity to improve. My clearly, and every time we people moving forward, we take some steps back. Sorry, cut you off in no, no, I'm just going to say it. In the talent space, I can give you a high level examples of people that were close to leaving an organization where I was working because they were misunderstood because, and it's not that the leader wasn't a good leader either, they were frustrated because they couldn't get that person to perform and it took some time to get to the root cause of what the driver was. And I'm looking back now and thinking of these people in my mind, and they're successful people. They were feeling demoralize, they were feeling not heard, they were feeling not under you know, they were feeling misunderstood. There wasn't that much of a change that we had to make in the environment. It was just trying to figure out what it was and that takes communication, that it takes conversation and it...

...takes compassion. Fantastic. I love would you said there. I think that's a perfect way for us to close out. This has been wonderful. So are they're going to be people that want to reach out to you and reaction to some things you said, what's the best way to contact you? You know, Linkedin as is the best way. Just reach out and I'm happy to to talk more and always love having philosophical discussions that can turn to practical solutions. So always up for that. Love that, but that. But thank you so much for your insightful focus on talent, talent development and developing leaders in general, and we hope that back down the road. And thank you all for joining this episode on claim. You've been listening to beyond the claim, a podcast for risk and claims leaders. To ensure you never miss an episode, please subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player, if you use apple podcast. We'd love for you to give us a quick rating for the show. Just tap the number of stars that you think the podcast deserves. Until next time, stay curious and keep innovating.

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