While some of the smaller insurers and brokers may be slow to latch on to the importance of management training -– or may simply lack the facilities – the majors have put a number of programmes in place.
Axa has a team of 35 training managers and a development manager under the control of John Hartnett, head of human resources development. Hartnett says about 70% of the group's training is done in-house with the other 30% outsourced to consultants and training centres.
There is a clear top-line training and development strategy. “We fully believe in providing people with the opportunity to advance their careers,” he says.
Apart from the induction training for managers, there are also continual improvement and career development schemes. “We need to keep up with the changes that are taking place and to reinforce the Axa culture,” says Hartnett. “We're keen to enable people to progress through the business.”
The first level of management are the team leaders, who go initially on a one-week training programme, which is then followed up with workshops “where they can practise on aspects that work”. This is the so-called “diagnostic approach” where areas such as leadership, confidence and self-development can be enhanced.
Axa also encourages its broker partners to use its training facilities. “Whenever we do training activities, our view is that if they can benefit we invite them to take part.”
This does not have to be in the grim surroundings of a prefab classroom. Axa, whose parent company is French, owns “a couple of chateaux in Bordeaux” where managers and brokers can go to learn about the the company culture and values.
It is also important for them to appreciate the global scale of Axa, which operates in 62 countries around the world and has 140,000 employees.
Royal & SunAlliance, another giant resulting from a spate of mergers, is also keen to stress its commitment to management training. “We have a comprehensive range of activities going on for managers,” says training manager Stephanie Hall.
Managers from all departments may be trained together. “We tend not to discriminate between the types of manager,” says Hall.
Like Axa and the large brokers, RSA follows up its course training with regular performance reviews to identify strengths and needs.
It is also an adherent of the “360-degree feedback tool”, which allows comment through the internet from other members of staff.
“We've even asked external customers for their views on managers,” says Hall. “It provides an online report on how people are seen.” This works both ways and the company can provide online advice to managers through its development plan.
Training is both behavioural and technical and RSA has learning centres, where managers can get their own online training in various subjects.
“Managers are often pointed in a particular direction by their boss who will say ‘this is where you need to go to get that help',” says Hall.
Like other large companies, RSA also has links with business colleges and universities such as Lancaster and Cranfield.
Other training methods include the use of learning and development consultants, with regular workshops running from one day to a week.
Hall says RSA also has strong links with its broker partners “and we've run programmes for them as and when required”.
At Cornhill, management training covers such areas as delegation, target setting and teambuilding. “There is also an emphasis on continuous learning and a focus on personal learning styles,” says spokeswoman Sharon Curd.
The company has its own training colleges and also makes use of training providers such as Cranfield. There will be a week-long course early in a manager's career followed by a management development programme within the next two years, which acts as a “top-up”, reinforcing what has been learned and advising on the latest legislative changes.
Potential managers are also assessed before they are appointed to the role, with a one-day course at an assessment centre.
Cornhill's parent company Allianz has its own programme to develop a cadre of senior managers. Cornhill managers are able to join one of its week-long courses in Paris.