Marvin Veerapen

How being open, talking and saying thank you improved my team

Marvin Veerapen has been running the Home insurance claims team based in Nottingham and Manchester for the last eleven months. He tells us how he’s introduced new ways of doing things which the team are loving.

I’ve been working for Co-op Insurance for 15 years. I’m Co-op through and through and believe in what we’re trying to do.

I started as a claims handler in Bury St Edmunds where I live, became a customer consultant, then got into team management.

Then a year ago the Nottingham Customer Service Manager job became available and I had to think long and hard whether I wanted to do it. I have two young children and live miles away but luckily I’ve got a strong wife who understands what I’m trying to do.

In the long-term I’m doing it for my family. I thought that in ten years time my daughter will be going to university and I hadn’t pushed myself enough. That convinced me to go for it.

My top tips

  • It doesn’t matter how bad my day is (I do have some bad ones) I don’t think anyone else would know that. I’m very consistent – no matter how busy or stressed I am if someone wants to talk to me I will. I don’t allow a bad day to cloud my judgement.
  • People just want to be treated fairly. Listen to your colleagues and react – see those actions through. If you say you’re going to do something, do it.

It’s good to talk

Last year we had 74 colleagues across both sites but over the last 12 months we’ve lost 29 and recruited seven. Even though we’re down on people we’re more efficient, have better levels of service, better quality assurance, and colleagues want to stay working for us.

What I did:

  • Gave team managers the confidence to have honest conversations – I had five team managers and three of them had been doing this job for 35 years so they had an awful lot of experience between them. What they don’t know about home claims isn’t worth knowing. The first thing was to give them the confidence to make difficult decisions and have honest conversations with their colleagues.
  • Gave my time to the team managers and brought them together – I don’t have all the answers so I get my leaders together – they led their teams really well but were used to working in silos. I bounce things off them and empower them to make decisions. The empowerment part is the most important.
  • Arranged social events – I took the team managers out with their partners last year to get to know their families. It was the first time they’d been out in 17 years as a group. In all I’ve organised four social events with the help of colleagues. For the 150th Insurance anniversary we put on a fun day for all staff and I got a fish and chip van in – everyone loved it.
  • Had informal chats – In the early days I’d go and sit in the lunch room and plonk myself down and talk to them. Colleagues weren’t used to a manager sitting around.
  • Said thank you – I genuinely appreciate my team so I tell them all the time. One of the best things that happened to me was my line manager nominating me for an award. It meant the world to me. It made me more determined to make this work.

Some of Marvin's team

Talkback success

In 2017 our engagement scores went up 7% and we scored 25% higher on the question around “believing in your leadership team”. It’s certainly not all down to me but I’d like to think that the things I’ve introduced have helped improve the working lives of the colleagues who work here.

Marvin Veerapen
Customer Service Manager, Nottingham and Manchester Claims office