I have worked in the insurance industry for 40 years in both underwriting companies and as Managing Director of a broker. If only I had known about coaching 13 years ago! After 9 years of coaching in the insurance industry with brokers and underwriters alike I know it makes a major difference to the coachees’ performance.
Coaching works well at both executive and middle management levels. Executives can feel isolated with nobody to talk to. Middle management can have confidence and time management pressures which can be quite easily resolved with a coach. It also works brilliantly for sales executives who often bear pressures internal which can cause inferior performance
Although a coach does not need to know about the insurance market I believe it makes a substantial difference if the coach does. Having inside knowledge can really hone the questions as long as they don’t turn out to be leading questions. Occasionally the business coach can come up with different options the more knowledge the coach has. Certainly if the coach has experienced similar situations before this can be of substantial benefit to the coachee. On occasions there can be the danger of being a mentor instead of a coach but that can be OK as long as everybody is aware of what is going on.
I believe I have an advantage over many coaches as I have been an insurance sales man, insurance sales manager, involved in the regions and London Market. I know the pressure of getting results whether it is income from a sales perspective or profit as a Managing Director. I have coached many analytical managers in finance, legal and compliance and although I don’t have that behavioural strength I can help them communicate better with CEOs and other types of management.
What I like about coaching is that every coaching situation is different even if the issue/concern/situation is similar because every coachee is different. Clearly knowing the coaching objectives is absolutely vital with the line manager or HR person being involved in the three way meeting. Setting the contract so all parties understand what is involved is so important. I am also a supervisor of coaches and it is normally when the contact has not been set up properly when things go awry. This is the case with most contracts!
In the intake meeting immediately following the setting of objectives is vital to ensure the coachee is on board and that the coach and the coachee are in rapport. A number of exercises take place to ensure the coachee obtains a mental image of what his/her coaching programme is going to look at. I use Prism Brainmapping (see www.prismbrainmapping.com ) which gives a 40 + page profile report showing behavioural strengths and development areas, emotional intelligence and resilience. This is all about improving self awareness and how the coachee communicates to people who aren’t like them. There are a number of similar behavioural systems available which originated from Myers Briggs many years ago.
Confidentiality is key as often in built into the coaching objectives is how the coachee can communicate better with their line manager who has employed the coach in the first place! If an executive team are being coached it is even more important that confidentiality is protected and the coach is aware of who information has been gleaned from.
Probably the most important benefit for the coachee is to take time out and have a space in their busy agendas to reflect on important aspects which they may not have even realised except for the coaching space. As long as the coachee really wants to be coached the benefits can be substantial. I have just completed a year’s programme with a Director and the improvements included;-
Easy transition to their new Director’s role
Focus on the KPIs that really mattered
Delegation to individuals which help them grow too
Greater life/work balance
As line managers get busier coaching can be even more beneficial to the managers themselves and of course their direct reports. There are so many things that can get in the way of an individuals development many of which an employee would not raise with a line manager but will tackle with a coach owing to the confidentiality and the coach being totally impartial.
So if you want a speedy improvement in performance and want to see your people grow engage a coach who understands insurance too.
When is it the right time to engage a coach?
1 If the company is going through substantial change the key drivers of change will benefit from coaching
2 A person going into a manager’s role for the first time
3 As part of a company’s succession management bringing on the successors quicker
4 To support a committed key person who is missing a key part of the jigsaw to be really successful
5 A Managing Director who needs a sounding board