Gerry, newsmill shift coordinator for a paper mill in northern Ontario, Canada, told Session 10B of the Leadership Development Lab:
"I was driving home after night shift on January 10th in a snow storm. I lost control of my truck and flipped over into a ditch. When I got out, I stepped into slush up to my knees. Over the next few hours before the police let me go home, I found out how quickly I catch a cold standing in the middle of the highway in below zero temperatures in frozen pants.
When I finally got home, I asked my wife, Keri, to call the 800 number for the auto insurance company and went to bed. I was working nightshift that night. The next day, when I picked up a rental vehicle . . . was the last contact I had with either the garage or the insurance company.
Having heard so many horror stories about insurance claims, I started to get concerned and then quite frankly angry over not hearing back from either company. People who know me are aware of my general impatience when it comes to these kinds of things. Since I had to prepare before calling the insurance company, I decided to take a different tact than my usual approach. I was not going to criticize, condemn or complain. I was determined to see the situation from the point of view of the person answering the phone and avoid an argument.
I first called the insurance agent who, as it turns out, is located in Newfoundland. I thanked the rep who answered the phone for having 24 hours a day service and for treating me so professionally. I asked if there was anything I could do to make the process easier for her. She thanked me for being polite and said donít worry we will take care of everything.
A couple of hours later, I took the same Turbo approach in my call to
the body shop manager. He assured me that they would do their best to complete all the work on my truck as quickly as possible. He then explained that my insurance company is notoriously cheap and reluctant to pay, so he was surprised to get a call earlier to make sure I was taken good care of.
Three weeks later when I went to pick up my truck all the repairs were done to my satisfaction including several items that had nothing to do with the accident. The truck was full of gas and kept warm in the garage so that I could get a good look at the repairs. I thanked the manager for showing me the repairs and his professionalism during the last month. He then pointed out that I would be called in the spring for a free paint treatment and rust proofing because he had seen in my file that this work was completed when I purchased the vehicle.
The insurance company covered the full price of the rental vehicle for the month even though I was not fully covered for it. The insurance company even waved my deductable payment so the whole incident cost me nothing. When I called the insurance company to tell them I had gotten my vehicle back and say thanks, she made a suggestion on how I could reduce my premiums.
The lesson I learned from this experience is that I can succeed in getting what I want in a much more efficient and less stressful way by helping things along with the 15 Leadership Principles rather than demanding the changes I want.
The action I call you all to take is to be patient when making requests of others, start with praise and see the request from their point of view.
The benefit you will gain is a prompt response which may often yield more than you are looking for and a team that is eager to go the extra mile for you."