For many agencies, establishing or enhancing an E&O culture can be somewhat of a daunting task. Issues such as “where do I start” and “what should we do next” are common. Other issues such as “they know what their job is, why can’t they just do their job” might be part of the equation.
Hopefully every agency knows the importance of establishing or enhancing their E&O culture. In actuality, this is one of the most important initiatives an agency faces. I know of more than one agency that essentially went out of business because of a poor E&O culture. The agencies had multiple claims and were non-renewed more times that they care to remember. They either were then unable to get E&O or the price and conditions (such as the size of the deductible) were so prohibitive, they decided to close up shop.
To establish a strong E&O culture does not just happen. It takes a strong concerted effort with strong leadership. It also takes delivering the message to each and every person and then holding them accountable for their results. There is an expression I often use – “Agencies don’t make mistakes, people do”. Thus, it takes a strong staff with the necessary knowledge levels. However, this is only part of the formula. I have met many very solid agency staff that have the skill level but not the necessary E&O mindset. The mindset that will prompt them to do what is expected of them no matter what. For some reason, that is missing.
To get this message to each and every person, it may just take a sit down, one-on-one with each staff member to discuss with them their role and the importance of their performing based on expectations. If the agency does performance reviews, this might be a good time to have this discussion. All staff members, regardless of their role, need to understand how important they are in the establishment of a solid E&O culture. Every agency should have (and needs to have) staff members that “get it” and can be that “leader on the floor”. They are the staff that everyone clearly sees that they do the job and they do it the right way. Someone that is like “a field leader” to use a sports analogy. They should take a lead role in staff meetings when discussing the various E&O prevention topics.
There is another quote that I have used a few times in my day that “an agency’s E&O culture is only as strong as its weakest link”. The agency should periodically perform an assessment of their E&O culture and commitment and even consider a grade for each staff member. Those falling short should be identified and an action plan developed to address their areas of deficiency.
After all, a strong E&O culture starts “one person at a time”.