The importance of management training

Business meeting

By 2022 as many as 43% of our industry’s managers could retire. We take a look at how to identify, develop and retain top talent to protect your client’s future business.

“A brokerage, ultimately, is its people. And if you don’t have the right talent and if you’re not developing and retaining the right talent, you’re certainly going to have a challenge in the long run,” says Marnie Smith, a partner at management consulting firm Lighthouse NINE Group in Toronto.

The industry needs to be more proactive about management training and education

Margaret Parent, director of the Professionals’ Division at the Insurance Institute of Canada, says it’s particularly important to devote time to the management feeder group (those in their 30s and 40s). Because fewer industry members have retired and recruitment has improved in the last several years, she says, this group is being “squashed out.”

“There’s a little bit of churn happening there,” she says. “They’re changing companies and they can see there is a career move somewhere else. But these are the people that you’d want to hold on to. [They’re who you’d want to] replace those who are leaving so that you have some continuity within the organization.”

Career development plans are essential for employee retention

Development planning and goal-setting require the same careful attention that financial forecasting and target-setting require,” says Jay Szpala, director of sales at RSA in Toronto.

“Thoughtful development plans can not only help individuals identify and respond to gaps in their current skill set, but they can also help ensure that [individuals] remain focused on their long-term goals.”

Stacey Shepherd, vice-president of talent and change at RSA in Toronto, says that in order to grow and be ready to take on more senior roles, employees need to be continually challenged.

Give key staff members stretch assignments that take them outside of their comfort zone or area of expertise

“Take a chance, give people the opportunity to learn and maybe fail, but in a supported way,” she says.  “Equally important is to provide feedback on how they’re progressing.”

Unfortunately, brokerage principals can’t always afford to devote the time necessary to mentor and train their successors. Luckily, there are programs available to help develop top talent and get them to the next stages of their careers. RSA’s Making Partner program, for example, offers senior brokerage leaders and managers the opportunity to learn the leadership and business management skills necessary to one day lead a brokerage. “The program aims to provide some of the executive training that can help to refine the next tier of management,” says Szpala.

Another program offered by RSA is the Executive Coaching Program offered to their ELECTUS, or top tier brokers, which provides senior producers the opportunity to work one-on-one with an executive coach. Time management and executive presence are two areas that are often focused on in these sessions, says Smith, a director of the program.

"[Participants] have an opportunity to improve on competency or a skill set and really take themselves from being stuck in the day-to-day to being more strategic."

Ultimately, whether you train your successors in-house or with the help of education partners, investing in the career development of your key employees isn’t just good for them, it’s great for your brokerage too.

“Career development is one of the biggest drivers of engagement. People need it for job satisfaction,” says Shepherd. “But if you take that formula all the way through: happy people equals happy customers, equals profitability, put quite simply.

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*The Insurance Institute of Canada’s report, A Demographic Analysis of the P&C Insurance Industry in Canada, 2012–2022