Risk Insider: Monica Manske

Now Is the Time to Effectively Partner with Leadership for Safety Initiatives

By: | July 17, 2018 • 2 min read
Monica Manske is the Sr. Manager of Workers’ Compensation and Employee Safety at Rochester Regional Health. She has spent her entire career in the insurance industry with experience as carrier, employer and is active in workers’ compensation advocacy. She can be reached at [email protected]

You, as the risk or safety manager, identified a way to enhance the safety of your organization, reduce risk, or even eliminate potential harm. The solution will require a financial investment and possibly ongoing budgetary support. But an obvious solution to you may not be as easy a sell to your CFO or C-suite.

How do you get buy-in for your program? Is it a program? Or is it an initiative? Planning in the PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) cycle may be detailed and time intensive, but putting the time in early will save time, energy and frustration later on.

One of my “Aha!” moments was when my executive asked me, “How do you define success?”  Define it, be very specific.

Defining your program and what you wish to achieve is your first step. Outlining the specifics of the program reduces the likelihood of scope creep. For example: Implementing a slip resistant safety shoe program which will reduce your workplace slip and fall events.


Benchmarking other organizations will expose you to the options within the program and the anticipated return on investment. Is there a best practice?

One of my “Aha!” moments was when my executive asked me, “How do you define success?” Define it, be very specific.

Review the big-picture organizational impact. Plan for the unexpected. Consider all of the angles.

  • What is the timeline for implementation?
  • Will there be training needs or a policy?
  • Will your program cause additional work for other departments?
  • What will the communication needs be and with what frequency?
  • Who are your stakeholders?
  • If there is an impact on front-line staff, engage them and their leaders while developing your plan.
  • Do we need a trial?
  • How will the program be administered on an ongoing basis?
  • What role or job is responsible for the administration?

In planning your PDCA — Check, what is your check?  When and is there a schedule?  What measurements are you going to review at the check?

Partnering with executive leadership truly is a collaboration. I recommend engaging senior leadership early in the idea stage. This could be the executive that has oversight of the area that may be impacted, or it may be the entire executive leadership team.

Float the idea and what you are attempting to resolve first, gauge their interest in it being explored. This brings the executive leader in as part of the process and there are no surprises. Once you have done your homework and developed your proposal, then bring it back to the executives for review.

Know as you enter into this venture that timing is important, as there may be competing organizational priorities.  Within this process, you will have engaged front-line staff, their leaders, the executive leader who has oversight and possibly the executive committee.  Through this engagement, many of the outstanding questions may be answered which will facilitate your formal proposal.

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

2018 Risk All Stars

Stop Mitigating Risk. Start Conquering It Like These 2018 Risk All Stars

The concept of risk mastery and ownership, as displayed by the 2018 Risk All Stars, includes not simply seeking to control outcomes but taking full responsibility for them.
By: | September 14, 2018 • 3 min read

People talk a lot about how risk managers can get a seat at the table. The discussion implies that the risk manager is an outsider, striving to get the ear or the attention of an insider, the CEO or CFO.


But there are risk managers who go about things in a different way. And the 2018 Risk All Stars are prime examples of that.

These risk managers put in gear their passion, creativity and perseverance to become masters of a situation, pushing aside any notion that they are anything other than key players.

Goodyear’s Craig Melnick had only been with the global tire maker a few months when Hurricane Harvey dumped a record amount of rainfall on Houston.

Brilliant communication between Melnick and his new teammates gave him timely and valuable updates on the condition of manufacturing locations. Melnick remained in Akron, mastering the situation by moving inventory out of the storm’s path and making sure remediation crews were lined up ahead of time to give Goodyear its best leg up once the storm passed and the flood waters receded.

Goodyear’s resiliency in the face of the storm gave it credibility when it went to the insurance markets later that year for renewals. And here is where we hear a key phrase, produced by Kevin Garvey, one of Goodyear’s brokers at Aon.

“The markets always appreciate a risk manager who demonstrates ownership,” Garvey said, in what may be something of an understatement.

These risk managers put in gear their passion, creativity and perseverance to become masters of a situation, pushing aside any notion that they are anything other than key players.

Dianne Howard, a 2018 Risk All Star and the director of benefits and risk management for the Palm Beach County School District, achieved ownership of $50 million in property storm exposures for the district.

With FEMA saying it wouldn’t pay again for district storm losses it had already paid for, Howard went to the London markets and was successful in getting coverage. She also hammered out a deal in London that would partially reimburse the district if it suffered a mass shooting and needed to demolish a building, like what happened at Sandy Hook in Connecticut.

2018 Risk All Star Jim Cunningham was well-versed enough to know what traditional risk management theories would say when hospitality workers were suffering too many kitchen cuts. “Put a cut-prevention plan in place,” is the traditional wisdom.

But Cunningham, the vice president of risk management for the gaming company Pinnacle Entertainment, wasn’t satisfied with what looked to him like a Band-Aid approach.


Instead, he used predictive analytics, depending on his own team to assemble company-specific data, to determine which safety measures should be used company wide. The result? Claims frequency at the company dropped 60 percent in the first year of his program.

Alumine Bellone, a 2018 Risk All Star and the vice president of risk management for Ardent Health Services, faced an overwhelming task: Create a uniform risk management program when her hospital group grew from 14 hospitals in three states to 31 hospitals in seven.

Bellone owned the situation by visiting each facility right before the acquisition and again right after, to make sure each caregiving population was ready to integrate into a standardized risk management system.

After consolidating insurance policies, Bellone achieved $893,000 in synergies.

In each of these cases, and in more on the following pages, we see examples of risk managers who weren’t just knocking on the door; they were owning the room. &


Risk All Stars stand out from their peers by overcoming challenges through exceptional problem solving, creativity, clarity of vision and passion.

See the complete list of 2018 Risk All Stars.

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]