How to Motivate …
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THE BUSINESS DECISIONS THAT HAVE DRIVEN THE ECONOMIC CRISIS AND PLAGUED
most of Wall Street have made cynics out of most of us. As unemployment reached 10% this week,
Americans interviewed on the network news just shook heads in silent agreement, with one stating that “thanks to a bunch of executive crooks,” our country’s financial future is still in the dark.
Like many industries that have felt pillaged at the hands of the economy, insurance has done
what it could to stop the bleeding. Now, executives are left with a huge challenge: How to motivate those employees left behind to do all the work.
The obvious solution to employee motivation lies with leadership, and to a bevy of popular
management fixes from which to choose. A rather dated one is Tom Peters’ “Management by
Wandering Around.” This style works best for leaders who are actively involved in the day-to-day
management of the organization. And it only works when the leader is genuinely interested in his
employees and their work, is actually there to connect with the employee, listen and personally follow-up on any concerns.
Next we have Marco Marsan’s mantra: empathy. Marsan’s company, Marco Polo Explorers, helps
executives motivate employees with the use of a methodology that pushes the “my way or the highway” approach aside, suggesting instead that employees suspend preconceived beliefs and solve
problems using a clean slate.
“Empathy will make you money, build relationships and steer you in the right direction rather
than you taking a bad first step,” promises Marsan. “You have to be brave enough to apply strength
from a soft approach.”
Finally, we have a real-world example from Lloyd’s of London, which, in spite of the economic
slump and several major bumps along the way, has continued in business-as-usual mode. Crediting
a standardized, disciplined approach to risk management, Lloyd’s CEO, Richard Ward, offers a bigger picture: It’s up to leadership to deliver the necessary ingredients to keep a company going.
In an interview with the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, Ward says,
“Expectations are changing in how we should behave as business leaders.” He adds that it’s no
longer acceptable to conduct business for the sake of profit alone, and that business leaders are
expected to have integrity. “They’re certainly expecting me as a business leader to say, ‘I’m doing
this because I think it’s right, not because everyone else is doing it.’ There is a lot more to personal responsibility.”
And a lot fewer employee motivation problems, I imagine.
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BOARD OF ADVISERS:
Eric Bulis, SVP and CIO, SBLI USA Mutual Life
Ursuline Foley, SVP and CIO, XLRe at XL Capital
Dick Mucci, Chairman and CEO of International, New York Life
Dennis Mehmen, CIO, VP, Business Information Services,
Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Co.
Mike Murray, VP of Finance, OneBeacon Insurance Co.
Michael Romano, SVP, Risk & Administrative Services, Highmark Inc.
Anthony Sisti, Information Systems Director, Travelers
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