In our continuing series on the changing working climate for brokers, Kate Foreman explains how to rally staff and create a vision for the future
By now many broking firms will have had an opportunity to consider what they could be doing to ensure that employees understand how regulation will affect them and what will be required of them in the future.This week I want to look in more detail at the eight-point plan for change management, that I set out in last week's CPD page, and identify the relevancy of each point for your firm.
Establishing a sense of urgencyWell, if you haven't developed a sense of urgency yourself by now, you may be storing up problems for yourself and the firm in the not-too-distant future! It is vital that everyone is aware of the timescales involved with regulation. Make sure that all staff know the key dates. Better still, make the 15 January your D-day for change. Ensure that everyone understands that from that date, new procedures and practices must be adopted - no exceptions. However, to do that, you must also ensure that you have developed the procedures necessary. That should create a sense of urgency for your management team.Examine market and competitive realities.The reality is that there is potentially more business out there. With many smaller firms deciding to change the way that they do business, or withdrawing from some markets altogether, now is the time to identify changes to the markets that your firm deals in. This is a time when you need to be networking and reading trade journals and encouraging your staff to do the same. Ensure that business opportunities are communicated throughout the firm.Identify and discuss crises, potential crises or major opportunities.You will have been (or should have been) considering disaster recovery plans within your firm in recent months. Your staff should be aware of the plans that you have made and should be aware of their own roles within them. You will be expected to demonstrate to the regulator that you have a disaster recovery plan, so you might as well use this as an opportunity to communicate this to your staff. Use the opportunity to remind staff that if a disaster or crisis occurred, it could affect your ability to trade and therefore their jobs. Forming a powerful guiding coalition.Assembling a group with enough power to lead the change effort.Encouraging the group to work together as a team.This simply means that your management team need to be reading from the same page and demonstrating commitment to making regulation work for your firm. In the words of Philip Williams up there in Warrington "Just do it". It's good advice. You must lead from the front and senior staff must be seen to be working with, not against each other. Frankly, this is good business advice in any case and if you are not already doing it, it may be time to reconsider the make-up of your management team.
Creating a visionCreate a vision to help direct the change effort. Develop strategies for achieving that vision. OK, I know it sounds a bit airy-fairy, but if you don't have an idea of how you want the end result to look, it's mighty difficult to achieve it. Imagine you have been given all the ingredients for making a pizza, but you have never seen one. What would the end product look like? You might, if you're lucky, end up with a vague approximation of a pizza. Wouldn't it have been more helpful to have had a picture showing what the end result is supposed to be? It's the same with change in the workplace. You and your team need to decide how you want your firm to look in the future and you need to involve your employees in that vision. Only then can you develop strategies that will enable you to achieve it. For example, you may decide that you want to see a smooth running organisation that is staffed and run by people who are knowledgeable and skilled. Now how are you going to achieve it?
Communicating the visionUse every vehicle possible to communicate the new vision and strategies. This is not too much of a challenge really. You should be holding regular staff meetings already, in order to cascade business information down to staff. You could include regulatory information at these meetings, or you might decide to make this a separate issue. I would strongly recommend that you introduce T&C information in a separate session. It's quite a lot of information to deal with and it's the area where there is likely to be most consternation among employees with regard to the future. In any case, the people who are going to be most affected by T&C are employees of the firm. If they are to accept the changes, they need to be 'kept in the loop'. It is foolish to believe that you can just bombard people with new regimes and expect them to accept the changes without question. It can be useful to arrange a compliance adviser to brief staff about changes in training and assessment as they are external to the firm. However, you still need to be clear about 'leading the way' and that means:teach new behaviours by the example of the guiding coalition.It is unreasonable to expect employees to follow a regime that directors and other senior staff have not bought into. Besides, senior staff also have to demonstrate competence and it reinforces your credibility to be seen to be leading from the front.
- Kate Foreman is director of training for RW Group
- Using this CPD pageFor the vast majority of practitioners and indeed support and supervisory staff in our industry, CPD is about regular learning and study that is planned, recorded, timed and evaluated. If you are a member of a professional body with a CPD requirement then there will be certain rules regarding the quality and nature of study material, and the way in which it is recorded.For staff of GISC members this means recording on your individual training file what the learning was, who provided it and when.It might be structured, such as a course, a learning programme or exam study. But it can be unstructured. This form of study encompasses reading the trade press, technical material or taking part in activities to support your professional body. Some CPD requirements are points related (a little antiquated) and others require a time value to be allocated. For example, it might take one hour to read Insurance Times each week. Most of that could be put as a time value but, in reality, perhaps only an half hour was devoted to learning something. The rule is to be honest with yourself and record the time that is relevant. Always take time to make a note of what you felt you gained from the activity. This is useful information for anyone else considering the same activity.In response to the popularity of our CPD programme each week's CPD page can now be downloaded from our website.
- This page is edited by RW Associates, specialists in training, compliance and competence. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org