workinghereislikeworkinginnorthkorea

Some jobs are bad. And some jobs are BAD.

Assistants Pt 3

After pondering long and hard the advice [assistant manager] gave me, I decided that if we truly are operating on darwinian principles (see: survival of the fittest), I would have to adapt. I formulated a plan to help increase the quantity of my work (because no one else was), as well as the quantity of business I bring in for the company. The plan was simple:

Most underwriters leave at 5 o’ clock. I am one of the unlucky 3 who leaves at 6 (this was not my choice, mind you). So, I went into the system to look at submissions that had not yet been assigned, and noticed that there were many that were sent on a specific day, to be effective that day, but were never assigned to an underwriter until several days, weeks even, after the effective date has passed. What does this mean? Simple. Underwriters are wasting their time quoting and working business that has NO chance of binding.

I guess, if nothing else, quoting crap accounts is a way to reach your quota (as mentioned in its own post), but I digress.

So I thought to myself, “I’m here an hour longer than everyone else. No one else is here to work these submissions, and they will have spoiled by tomorrow. I’LL WORK THEM!

So I did just that. I would assign these orphaned submissions to myself, and the benefits were two-fold: I have an increased shot at binding enough business to obtain my bonus, and the orphan quotes are more likely to bind, because they’re being sent to the agent before their customers’ prior coverage expires.

One of the bi-products of this little plan was that it put more current work in my bucket, which meant I wasn’t working as far into the future as usual. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as you don’t let any quotes slip through the cracks. But it DOES mean that future work does accumulate in your work list (or your “bucket” as well it). Per [assistant manager]’s suggestion, during his “survival of the fittest” cop out pep talk, he suggested that I take these future-dated submissions, and reschedule the tasks to show up on a future date. That way, they won’t clutter my bucket, and will make room for more current submissions when they’re actually assigned to me (which, if you’ve read the previous posts, wasn’t really happening for me).

So a month passes since mine and [assistant manager]’s discussion, and since I put my plan into action. And lo and behold, my numbers are starting to crawl up and match everyone else’s numbers! Weeks pass, and what’s this?! I’ve retained enough to achieve a bonus! This hasn’t happened in 5 months! I feel a new wave of motivation rush through my spirit. I’m back on track, and things are looking good. Nothing can stop me now.

Or can it?

Today, I received the following email, from [assistant manager]. He also decided to copy the manager on it (100% petty workplace taddle-tail bullshit move). Before you read this, perhaps it’s best that you go back and read the previous 2 chapters in this saga. Then come back to this email:

[your name here],

You [have 231 submissions] in your bucket. Out of the 231, it looks like you have routed 200 of the tasks to yourself.

What’s going on? We have underwriters that have no submissions for October and just a few for November and you are sitting on 139 October & November accounts?

Now mind you, the scenario he’s setting up with “underwriters that have no submissions for [the current month]” is EXACTLY what I’ve experienced for the last 5 months. It’s the EXACT same scenario I approached him with a month ago, when he told me it was “survival of the fittest.” After office-meditating my rage back to a functional level, I respond. I copy the manager, the HR director, and the president of the company as well. I’m not pulling punches, this time. If you want to beat me up, I’m going to start swinging back. My response:

Last month, [asst manager], I approached you about having so little work (see attached emails), while other people in the office were being assigned 500-700 submissions a month (You told me, “..It’s survival of the fittest,” remember?) You suggested that, if nothing else, I take anything that was out more than a few weeks, [reschedule] it (You showed me that [UW with no assistant A] did this as well), and drop the task, to keep my bucket available for fresh, more recent submissions. That’s exactly what I’ve done.

Additionally, every day, if I finish the quotes in my bucket that are effective that day and the next, then at the end of the day, if there is anything in the unassigned bucket that is also effective today (in other words, something that will be expiring tomorrow anyway), I’ll assign it to myself and work it that evening. And sometimes, I’ll stay late to get them out, as well.

We have a better shot at writing the short fuse accounts that way, as opposed to the alternative: old submissions sitting there, in the unassigned bucket, for days past the effective date, then getting assigned to an underwriter to waste their time on, when the agency has placed coverage elsewhere. Personally, I think that’s a decent system, and didn’t know I was stepping out of bounds in doing that. If you have someone who can work the short fuse quotes after hours, when all the other UWs are gone, why not do that instead of passing them out after they’ve already spoiled? Frankly, it’s the only reason my numbers have been significantly better than they have for the last 4 or 5 months.

I’d prefer if you didn’t, but redistribute them if you want. In any case I think this is a good opportunity to segway into another issue of concern. Me doing this isliterally the only way I’ve managed to get put up on the board this month, and it’s the only reason I’m on the board at all. Simply put, I don’t receive submissions to quote, otherwise. For the last 4 or 5 months, I would empty my bucket at the end of each day. If I was lucky, I would receive some tasks for submissions that are several days past the effective date. If you’re skeptical of that, look at the reports for the last 6 months. Look at the reports for the last two months, even. I’m consistently at the bottom of the board, and it’s not from a lack of trying; it’s because I’m getting fed the scraps. I don’t know if that’s automated, or if someone is dealing them out that way, and I’m not inclined to point fingers. Simultaneously, though, there are other underwriters (namely those who had assistants) getting between 500 and 700 submissions to work every month.

I guess I just don’t understand why it’s okay for certain underwriters to receive a ton of submissions (I can’t imagine those are all ‘hand delivers’), but not me (or anyone else lower on the food chain, for that matter). It seems like for the last several months, and again, the numbers suggest this, those underwriters are getting submission at the expense of other people’s.

How am I supposed to have a shot at a production bonus (which, incidentally, hasn’t happened since April, which, coincidentally, is about the same time several underwriters received assistants to help quote), if I’m not even given the opportunity to get anything close to a shot at meeting the “300 submissions handled” quota, the “175 submissions quoted” quota, and my “retained premium” quota? In other words, if I’m not given enough to produce??

You said survival of the fittest. If we’re really going to take some kind of darwinistic approach to it (which I really feel isn’t the most appropriate), then I would say that I’m adapting to my surroundings. In any case, the bottom of the list is not a place I want to be. I’m better than that; I just don’t get the opportunity to prove it. From what I can tell though, I haven’t done anything this past month that others haven’t done the last 6 months, while I was the one starving for submissions. See the attached email about [asshole co-worker] sniffing around in other people’s buckets (namely, mine). It’s not like I’m sneaking into other people’s work and taking things that are already assigned to others. And also, it’s not like I’m assigning unassigned stuff to myself, then never working it. It still gets to agents at least 24 hours prior to the effective date, which is better than the alternative. If that’s not a perk to keeping a few of us here after 5pm, it should be.

But alas, if I have broken the rules, I will humbly take my hand slapping, and stop immediately.

There is a VERY good chance that, given the fact that I CC’d the COMPANY’S OWNER on the email, that I’m going to get put on a few shit lists. Maybe even fired. This company doesn’t exactly have a reputation for making informed, logical, decisions based on reason and not emotion, and I’m aware of this. Truthfully, our main manager was currently in the hospital, and I didn’t feel like [asst manager] was the only person that needed to be dealing with this situation (although I’m sure it gave him a raging authority hard-on). So I went to the next rung on the ladder. Sue me.

Anyway, later that day, [asst manager] called me into a conference room (along with a third party, but not HR) to go over the email I had sent. He was cordial, and I was cordial, but we more or less agreed to disagree. I told him I was willing to hand out some of my submissions to other underwriters. Truthfully, I probably DID have more than I needed to bonus. But if a starving child stumbled upon a truck full of little debbie cakes, do you think he would only take one pack? Of course not.

Oh yeah, and another thing: I recorded my ‘behind closed doors’ conversation with [assistant manager].

I’m sure I’m going to be pulled into an office to discuss this with the manager, once he gets out of the hospital. And I’d say there’s a chance he might give me a pink slip. I guess we’ll cross that bridge if/when we come to it.

As an epilogue to this story, when I returned to my desk, I noticed that IT had installed some new software on my machine. I googled the name of the software, and as it turns out, they must REALLY think I’m being shady, because the software logs ALL of my keystrokes, and monitors my screen in real time.

If there is such a thing as “quantum management,” this company should get the Nobel prize for its discovery. Micromanagement is simply an understatement.

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Assistants Pt 2

So the assistants test ran for approximately 5 months.  As this occurred, I slowly saw my numbers decline, as the assisted underwriters’ numbers slowly increased.  In an act of desperation, I approach the assistant manager (that’s not his actual title, but for all intents and purposes).  As I prefer to put anything important in writing, I sent him an email:

Hey,

Thought maybe I would get your candid POV on this before I discuss it with [manager].

My numbers were atrocious this month, and they’ve been less-than-stellar the last few before that, and it concerns me.  Looking at the reports, it looks like, after today, I will likely have plowed through around 250 submissions (those being both quotes, and declines).

The underwriters with assistants are going through almost 3 times as many submissions.  And I can’t help but ask myself whether or not this a coincidence.  Obviously, I’m not so naïve to think that it’s something intentionally against me; that would be ridiculous of me.  BUT, I do kind of feel like, as far as work volume goes, the number of submissions they’re receiving is gradually choking me out.  In other words, maybe I’m getting a lot less because they’re getting a lot more?  And given their retained premium this month, it’s obviously stuff to be effective this month as well.  Most of what I get are “NO MARKET” or “INVALID CLASS CODE,” submissions which end up being a decline, and lots of times, it’s stuff that’s already passed the effective date!

Apparently, numbers are low for everyone, but the numbers just don’t really speak to that.  I haven’t noticed any significant drop in hand delivers that I receive, and surely to goodness [UW with an assistant A] and [UW with an assistant B] wouldn’t get so many hand delivers (I know [B] does the VCAP stuff which maybe accounts for her larger number) as to push their numbers that high.  If numbers were low across the board, it just seems like theirs would be going down as well, y’know?

Almost every day this month, I’ve been able to reduce my bucket, at the end of the day, to maybe a few November submissions that I couldn’t quote yet, anyway….so I know my lower numbers aren’t from a lack of trying.  I know [UW with an assistant A] more or less lives here, but if nothing else, that has to mean he’s actually GETTING something to quote, know what I mean?

really don’t want to risk getting demoted to a lowly assistant for my numbers being low, especially if it’s something that’s ultimately out of my control, and it’s really starting to stress me out.

What am I supposed to do, here?”

So several hours later, I’m called over to assistant manager’s desk (as mentioned in a previous post, they NEVER put anything in writing.  There’s less deniability that way).  He discusses the way in which the submissions are distributed by our automated system, but then goes on to explain that the automated system is broken, and that, in spite of what the numbers suggest (apparently, at this job, the numbers DO lie), submissions are being distributed fairly.  What he said after that blows my mind, to this day:  “I mean, I guess, really, it’s survival of the fittest.”

TO BE CONTINUED.

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