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Simple Ideas for a Complex System

Managing People DITMR

Managing People DITMR (Deer In The Middle Of The Road Syndrome)

by Bill Zachry, SCIF Board Member

Every person can experience DITMR.

Most supervisors do not take the time or work to recognize when their employees are experiencing DITMR. If the worker is dealing with a new task, when the volume of work is overwhelming, or if there are large dollars at stake some people freeze. The unconscious thought of the employee is “If I do nothing, I at least will not make a mistake or show how little I know about the job.”

With many jobs, doing nothing usually results in worse outcomes than doing something. This is particularly true in workers’ compensation. In our industry doing nothing usually results in slowing down the compensability decision, failure to provide benefits and significantly increases claims costs.

When the examiner makes decisions, sometimes mistakes are made. However, for claims examiners, minor mistakes are actually one of the most effective learning tools.

It is good for supervisors and front-line managers to recognize symptoms of DITMR and directly deal with the person to help overcome the problem.

The top three issues which create the most DIRMR are:

  1. The first time an employee had to perform a specific function
  2. Large or extremely complex claims files with high dollar exposure
  3. An excessive volume and variety of work was thrown at the examiners in a short duration.

DITMR is usually more acute with new employees than with experienced employees.

There is system analytics that may be employed to help identify employees who are experiencing DITMR. These are a backlog on managing the claims diary, an unusually high number of claims which are delayed vs accepted or denied, stair-stepping reserves, or chronically not returning phone calls. Another symptom is when all claims settled are at the examiner’s settlement authority and none are above the settlement authority.

There are wonderful steps for supervisors to help avoid or overcome DITMR.

  • Recognize when the examiner is doing something for the first time and carefully walk them through the process. When completed, debrief.
  • Do group staffing for larger files.
    Trade complex files between examiners to get the right case in front of the right examiner.
  • Look for outside stressors which may be causing DITMR.
  • Look for some additional relief if the caseload is overwhelming

One successful method to deal with the DITMR is to talk about the phenomena with the staff. I encouraged them to say “I don’t know what to do on this file” and “This is my first time doing this and I would appreciate some help to get me through it.” Or “I am completely overwhelmed!”

DITMR is one of the most unrecognized roadblocks to productivity and success for the employee and for the office. Identifying who may be impacted by DITMR is the first step to solving the problem. Implementing analytics to identify DITMR is the second step. Creating an environment where the issue was recognized and resolved in an appropriate way is a step to success for the employee and the company.

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