RSA's UK chief takes time out from Center Parcs.
I’m writing this on the way back from Sherwood Forest. I’ve been at Center Parcs at our Broker Sales Conference.
I really like Center Parcs, but I don’t get to go very often because my husband has decided he doesn’t like them. He’s never actually been to one of course ...but he’s absolutely certain that he hates them ;-).
Anyway I really like this kind of event as they give me a chance to chat to our people working away at the coal face. This time I also wanted to say a big thank you to Paul Donaldson and our people in Broker as I’m proud of what they’re achieving with our rating stance and our customer strategy.
Rate was a big theme at the conference. We really believe that sustainable realistic pricing, not the boom bust of the cycle is the right thing to do for us and our customers, but delivering this in practice is tough for our people. They’re constantly balancing retention, rate and new business. Walking away from unprofitable business is always hard to do - even if we know it’s the right thing to do.
“Last week for instance I showed this picture my husband took of a dragonfly laying eggs on my new pond. I think its beautiful.
Anyway, after my Q&A spot I stayed around for a bit and got some more questions. Also lots of people, many of whom I’ve never met before, just came up for a chat.
And I’ve been thinking, this never used to be the case. I think when I joined RSA, I must have come across as a little bit unapproachable. And for a CEO not hearing about stuff can be dangerous. I remember once we had some real issues with an IT system – I didn’t hear about them for months. If I’d known earlier I would have acted.
The key thing that’s made people comfortable with telling me stuff is my company Blog. On this I talk a lot about work but also about things going on in my life. Last week for instance I showed this picture my husband took of a dragonfly laying eggs on my new pond. I think it’s beautiful.
People relate to things like this and now will often talk to me about things in their lives too before going onto work issues.
“The company blog wasnt my idea. At first I thought it might be a bit of a fad, but to me its one of the most important things I do.
I also make sure that the language I use is my own words, not “Corporate blah”. Language for me is really important in a business, because as a CEO you can be seen to be quite distant. Your very job title creates a distance between yourself and an organisation. Which is stupid because we’re all people, we all need to speak to each other.
So for me if I start to use what I call blah language what it does is create another barrier on top of all the other barriers that exist in an organisational hierarchy. Organisations can sometimes have a seriousness within them which inhibits people’s personality. And actually when we’re trying to humanise insurance with our customer strategy, we have to humanise internally too.
The company blog wasn’t my idea. At first I thought it might be a bit of a fad, but to me it’s one of the most important things I do.