I often wondered what a typical day was like for the leadership team of the multibillion dollar company American Family Insurance. I got my chance to learn about this while interviewing Chad Cerkoney, the director of risk management. American Family Insurance with its corporate office in Madison, WI. It currently operates in 19 states mainly across the Midwest with insurance products in life, health, business, and personal property. Chad has been working for American Family for over 30 years and has held positions such as Insurance Agent, Workforce Manager, Actuary, and now Risk Management Director. Chas received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Wisconsin in Business Administration.
Chads typical day with American Family starts out by conducting daily meetings going over reports with staff and preparing for meetings with the leadership team. Some of his duties include analysis and trends of the company’s profits and losses and keeping senior leadership informed of the latest analysis and trends of the company’s profits and losses. Any change in the factors that affect metrics have to be quickly dissected, evaluated, measured and presented so that required actions can be taken. A majority of his time is spent in meetings and keeping the management team motivated and informed of the current strategic goals of the organization.
Two of the most critical managerial problems that Chad faces are lack of communication and disagreements amongst the management team. “I try to keep all lines of communication open at all times and believe, encouraging all of my managers to express their ideas and opinions no matter how small” (C. D. Cerkoney, Personal Communication, February 27, 2012).
Chad explains that three essential skills needed to be a successful manager is “empathy, compassion, and passion” he further explains that “if you can empathize with people emotions and be compassionate toward them and show passion in how you lead, this to me is three of the most essential skills of a successful manager. Also you have to have passion; if you are passionate about what you do you can inspire others to do more and exceed beyond their expectations” (C. D. Cerkoney, Personal Communication, February 27, 2012).
When it comes to the failure of managers, chad believes that manager’s inability to listen, being self-centered, not a team player, and failing to take responsibility most often contributes to their failure. “I remember a time when a colleague of mine was leading a project on the development of a new customer interaction system. His biggest downfall was he did not listen to his frontline employees, when it came to some of the inadequacies of the new system. This ultimately led to him being removed from the project and he never really came back form that.” (C. D. Cerkoney, Personal Communication, February 27, 2012).
When it comes to worker empowerment, Chad believes that “all managers should realize no matter what industry,...