Talent Development in Insurance
“Businesses could fill the leadership vacuum from their internal ranks if they know how to spot and develop their real potential leaders. But they don’t, despite the enormous resources and thought they pour into the task.”
Talent development is one of the most massive yet undervalued challenges an organization faces at all times. It becomes even more colossal for an industry as complex as insurance. In spite of being amongst the oldest financial institutions in the world and catering to a very basic human need of hedging against contingent and uncertain losses, it still remains to be a push product, requiring a large army of trained frontline sales personnel.
In our country’s context, the insurance sector has faced the dual challenge of evolution as well as stabilization in a span of 10-15 years, something the other sectors have had an opportunity to do over many decades. The diverse people related concerns in the way of the HR function are the talent pool availability for external hiring and extremely high attrition rates. This gets further complicated as the financial markets remain unstable.
The candidates with desired competencies for an life insurance company are fit for absorption in the Banking Sector and many B2C organizations, making recruitment a perennial challenge and poaching a hard-hitting reality. Also, owing to the demanding work schedules and target achievements required in an Insurance setup which makes finding good quality talent furthermore difficult.
All insurance companies usually have a large in-house Learning and Development team to better induct and orient its’ work force towards the products, values and working of the company. At HDFC Life, a large Learning and Development team of over 350 members is constantly working towards orienting and training its’ entire employee base and not just the Sales force towards its insurance products and concepts. While a core Talent Management team is dedicated towards promoting and developing the internal talent pool.
A brief overview of the workforce composition would help us clearly define the major developmental efforts involved.
The top line of an Insurance company is its Sales arm and the Investments team. Sales channel is further divided into Agency, Bank-led, Broker-led and Direct Sales distribution channels. The other non-sales functions include Marketing, Operations, Finance, Investments, IT, Human Resources, Product Development, Actuary etc.
Each of the roles, both generalists and specialists require certain behavioural and work-related competencies. Once they are identified, development processes for them are designed and process flows are established.
The positions in both Sales and Non-Sales functions can be broadly classified as Individual Contributors, Managers of ICs, Managers of managers and Top Leadership.
These are generally the associates and executives usually working alone or as team members without any direct reports. They are the major population in any large organization (around 50-80%), comprising mainly of the frontline sales force, data operators, trainers etc. The major challenges faced by the sales population are usually business related, revolving around consumer appetite for insurance, long gestation period before conversion of policies, performance and target pressures, etc.
The major competencies required in ICs are accountability, adaptability, customer orientation, product and organizational knowledge, communication skills, networking etc. The development plan for the Frontline sales usually comprises of a structured induction and on boarding, sales effectiveness trainings, product and financial tool knowledge, interpersonal skills workshops etc., while for the non-sales population, function specific trainings are organized and a heavy emphasis is given to on the job learning and cross-functional projects.
At HDFC Life, besides a pre-joining online orientation on GOAL, there is an online platform for learning about insurance concepts, AML guidelines, the organization, its values, products etc. For all new employees, a 7 day classroom training and evaluation is organized for the sales personnel, to revise the online course as well as train on interpersonal skills and sales pitching. They are also informed about the objective measures of their performance evaluation and promotion through FLAG, Stage Gate and PIP.
Furthermore, various training programmes are organised specific to distribution channels at periodic intervals like Career FLS for Agency, Vintage FLS for Bancassurance and Direct etc.
Managers of ICs
These are the first level managers who lead teams or supervise individual contributors. They are usually fresh management graduates or ICs promoted to a managerial role forming another large portion of the headcount (20-40%). They are usually in the roles of sales managers with 5-10 direct reports, project leads etc. The major challenges faced by this group include understanding team dynamics, handling conflicts, managing performance of direct reports, data analytics etc.
The major competencies sought are all around effective team management, data analysis, accountability and ownership, result orientation, client focus, troubleshooting less tactical issues, interpersonal skills, creativity etc.
At HDFCSL, LEAD, a competency based Leadership Development Programme has been developed for the middle managers which contains various skill based modules delivered through workshops by certified trainers. The career advancement policies promote vertical as well as lateral and cross functional movements through assessment centres.
Managers of Managers and Leadership roles
These are the middle and top-level managers who are usually process owners and manage various teams under them. They are quite experienced and form around 5-15% of the workforce. Their roles are diverse including everything from regional and zonal managers to vertical heads and head of departments etc. The major challenges faced by them include high level strategic management, ensuring collaboration across various verticals and functions, visionary decision making etc.
The major competencies they require are strategic direction and problem solving, team leadership and collaboration, result orientation and execution, decision making, client centricity etc. The development plan for them may include a personalized performance and potential review and feedback from supervisors and top level leadership, along with behavioral development aids delivered through development centers, competency labs, workshops, assigning behavior specific stretch projects, conclaves with industry experts etc. The focus remains majorly on on-the-job learning alongside these developmental interventions.
HDFC Life’s, PRP, Zenith and APEX are specially designed evaluation and development initiatives for its Top Leadership. The specific profiles of each individual are built through the Potential Review Process and various other developmental interventions which come under Zenith and APEX in the form of workshops, Competency Labs, Psychometric tests, personalised feedback, action learning projects etc.
Mr. Ghag joined HDFC Life in September 2009 and has been spearheading the Human Resource function since then. Before HDFC Life, he was associated with DHL Express as Head of HR for India and Senior Advisor - Quality and Processes (First Choice Programme) for South Asia. He was one of the important members of the board and has travelled extensively across the globe as a trainer as well as a participant of various management conferences.View Complete Profile
A critical aspect of a retirement plan is how and where to invest. The assets you choose to invest will vary depending on several factors, which include your risk tolerance and investment time horizon.
According to a study by the Insured Retirement Institute, only a few women consider becoming financial planners because they deem the job stressful and uninteresting. The time has come to stop relying on someone else for financial security. Financial planning is nothing but determining short and long-term financial goals, and creating a balance to meet these goals.
Swabhimaan Careers is one of HDFC Life’s strategic initiatives to build long-term customer relationships. The overall objective of insurance is to compensate the financial loss caused due to untimely death of a bread winner.
The Vision and the Mission continue to be relevant and set out aspirations for an organization. But the question that an organization needs to ask is how do they get there? Is it possible to define a 'decision architecture' that guides actions of each employee?
For millions of people in India, the concept of life insurance still remains a mystery. Thanks to the new media channels, more and more people are becoming aware of the significance of life insurance. For those, who wish to develop fundamental understanding of the concept of life insurance, here is a quick snapshot.
Consumer is king. With the shifting of focus on the goods and services reaching out to the consumer rather than the other way round, Mobile learning embodies just that, by taking training not just to the doorstep but also to the learner in person. Just as an individual is empowered to carry his office with him at all times, M Learning empowers him to carry his training program with him, shattering the barriers of space and time.
Reinsurance is an insurance that is purchased by an Insurance company from one or more other insurance companies to manage the risk. Reinsurance helps in transfer of risk from one insurance company to another. It is also called “insurance for insurers” or “stop-loss insurance”.Read More