In the second of three articles on management training in the insurance industry Brian Hanney looks at how companies put together programmes using internal and outside trainers....
Brokers and insurers, the larger ones at least, are increasingly conscious of the need for keeping not only their staff, but their managers up to speed on all industry developments through a thorough programme of training.
The broking side, like other areas of insurance, uses a mixture of internal and external training, and inside and outside consultants.
At broker Ward Evans, the emphasis is on internal training . "It's a fairly formal structure in terms of management," says Beverley Webster, the company's spokeswoman.
"A training manager will normally conduct sessions of around half a day, spread over a long period of time. Managers are also moved around the branches and around the group as part of the on-the-job training to develop an understanding of the company structures.
"We take training very seriously and keep managers up to speed with changes. There is also a regular review procedure when you highlight strengths and weaknesses and there is an input into how to address them."
The company does not allocate people 100% to training, "otherwise they lose contact with the industry. The trainers are still involved with the business and very hands-on," she says.
Philip Bland, a partner at broker Bland Bankart, says his company tends to use outside local training consultants in its core training programme, developing leadership and the "soft skills" of people management.
"The consultant acts as a coach and mentor to the senior management people," he says.
There are one-day and two-day management programmes in house and the company also makes use of Cranfield University, the Bedfordshire-based business management school and consultants Hawksmere to develop personal skills and for assertiveness training.
"We also do annual appraisals and two mid-term reviews. More senior people are appraised by myself," adds Bland
Janet Lytwynchuk, human resources and training manager at broker Budget Insurance, says her company provides in-house training courses for front-line managers over a 10-month period.
This involves one or two days' training a month. Called Managing for Results, the programme aims to cover such areas as staff motivation, self-understanding, report writing, people management and how to run a meeting. "It's very hands on and people get introduced into new topics", she says.
Training can also be ad hoc, with special training on areas such as advanced claims management.
Individual training tends to be outsourced, while "sheep dip" training – the general training needed by all managers – is in-house. The company may identify a specific training need such as assertiveness, financial or leadership skills.
Like Bland Bankart, Budget also makes use of Cranfield for senior executive management programmes as well as the London School of Economics. "The advantage of external training is that you get the benefit of sharing and it stops you being inward looking," Lytwynchuk adds.
At broker Hill House Hammond, all managers have a personal development plan within a "coaching culture" that identifies competencies, says Tony Johnson Reynolds, head of training.
They are also put through the firm's Pathway to Excellence three-day workshop, split over three months, to build up managerial skills. In between the workshops, there is a strong emphasis on feedback to see how things are going.
The company also makes use of outside consultants in an ongoing process where all the managers are "re-immersed" at some stage.
Senior managers at broker Heath Lambert are sent on a three-day residential course with a follow-up day to "share what successes they've had," says Rita McHale, group training and development manager. Trainers meet managers individually and give them feedback as part of a long-term development programme. She says the people management side of things is vital. "Brokers are very good at getting the deal through the door, but whether they can deal with people is always questionable."