Job Q&A: Claim Team Manager
Brought to You by State Farm Insurance
Name: Garfield Blythe
Title: Claim Team Manager
Company: State Farm Insurance
Location: Parsippany, New Jersey
Monster: What led you to choose a career in the insurance industry?
Garfield Blythe: After four years in the US Navy as a marine mechanic, I interviewed for numerous jobs in my field, but was unsuccessful in finding anything meaningful. My sister was working at State Farm in the human resources department and recommended I apply at State Farm.
M: What led you to your current position at State Farm?
GB: I have been with State Farm for 26 years. I started as a mail and file clerk, and was then promoted to the data-processing department. I then transferred to the auto-claims department where I held positions as estimator, claim representative and now team manager in our Auto Claim Central Department.
M: What do you do in your position?
GB: In my current position as team manager, I directly supervise all claim handlers. Our primary function is to achieve customer-focused results by appropriately investigating, evaluating, negotiating and settling auto physical damage claims. To achieve this, I cultivate a high-performing environment for my direct reports by setting expectations, providing direction and feedback, and fostering a positive environment. I also encourage direct reports to take advantage of developmental opportunities. In addition, I work with other team managers in implementing and administering new programs, policies, workflows and procedures.
M: Bring us through your typical day.
GB: A typical day includes meeting with employees to coach on performance and provide direction and feedback for their development; discuss claim issues; or share department or company information. The management team also meets on a regular basis. Some meetings may be scheduled in advance while others are spontaneous based on situations of the day. Each day also includes reviewing employee work and creating reports at an individual and team level that are used to identify trends, make recommendations for improvements, and praise successful contributions to the department and company goals. Lastly, committee work, projects and mentoring are an important part of my job and require regular meetings and follow-through as needed.
M: What have been the biggest rewards in your career?
GB: I availed myself of the numerous opportunities for development and advancement at State Farm, obtaining bachelor's and master's degrees through company-sponsored programs. Many of my direct reports have been successful in their pursuit of promotional and developmental opportunities. I mentor others through formal and informal relationships. I find great pleasure in helping my direct reports and those I mentor achieve their own goals.
M: What are some of the challenges of your job that you enjoy?
GB: An effective manager must have the insight to anticipate problems before they arise and formulate suitable solutions. The majority of my management experience has been gained while working in heavily populated, fast-paced markets. Managing in this environment and coupled with our ever-changing insurance industry requires a high degree of flexibility and time management.
M: What do you like most about working for State Farm?
GB: State Farm has a great culture and high integrity and believes in family values. Also, there are numerous opportunities for development and advancement.
M: What’s the best advice you could give someone looking to get into your field?
GB: There are many rewarding opportunities and paths to a successful career at State Farm.
M: What do you look for when you interview people on behalf of State Farm?
GB: The ability to multitask and work well in a team environment, as well as initiative, customer focus, effective communication and decision-making skills, judgment and accountability.
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