Tag Archives: paul

Insurance CROs: Shifting to Offense

EY’s seventh annual survey of chief risk officers in the insurance industry confirms that companies are starting to move on from the post-crisis era of defensive risk management. While some CROs speak of works in progress or continuing improvements to their company’s risk management efforts, more CROs report they are comfortable with functioning frameworks that provide “defense” for the company.

There is continued maturation and increasing sophistication of the role. Some CROs are spending more of their time engaged on high-priority strategic and business-driven issues, such as disruption, innovation and emerging threats, including cybersecurity.

See also: The State of Risk Oversight in 2017  

CROs are starting to move to offense. They see their roles less in terms of organizational compliance with enterprise risk management (ERM) policies. Nor are they reacting to regulatory requirements. For almost all companies surveyed, Own Risk Solvency Assessments (ORSA) are “job done.” Even CROs at companies that faced challenges related to federal regulation or
Solvency II report that such issues are largely behind them.

Many of this year’s discussions involved consideration of “what comes next?” As the CRO agenda evolves, significant transitions are underway (see figure 1):

  • From relative stability to disruption
  • From clear and well-understood threats to emerging and unknown risks
  • From serving as a control function to partnering with the business
  • From focusing on the risks of action to promoting innovation and avoiding the risk of inaction

See also: Key Misunderstanding on Risk Management  

Where CROs mostly played defense in focusing on compliance and regulatory activities after the crisis, many have started to move on to a more active, business-driven posture, with greater emphasis on adding value through the efficient delivery of ERM.

You can find the full EY report here.

New Year, New Job? Get the Right Support

As the first month of the new year unfolds, some of you may be facing the challenge of starting a new job, or at least a new or expanded role. Psychologically, many people seem to prefer starting new life challenges like this at major milestones, like the turning of the year. Whether that is the case for you, or you’re in the equally challenging position of hiring a new starter, you know how vital it is to start well and make a positive impression.

Anxiety about this type of change has, of course, fueled a whole industry of self-help books and management advice. Perhaps the most famous text on the subject is The First 90 Days,” by Michael Watkins. Although his approach to the first three months can feel like a relentless standard to meet, the structure does discipline you to: set goals; network with stakeholders effectively; listen to your team; and determine actions to be taken (rather than getting trapped in analysis-paralysis on strategy). So, I would recommend it as the classic text on the subject.

However, both from my own experience and from seeing too many new leaders struggle and fail to achieve what is expected, I believe more support is needed to ensure senior hires succeed. This is crucial not just for them, but also for the organization and individuals who hired them. With the high costs of recruitment and potential doubling of those costs if a replacement needs to be found, it is more important than ever to invest in helping your appointment succeed.

A recent article in Coaching at Work magazine, “Gainful Employment,” by Pacifica Goddard, caught my eye as it looked into this very challenge. She quotes Lynne Hardman, CEO of Working Transitions, who has found that the recent recession and cost of recruitment have caused companies to reduce the number of on-boarding programs, even though 40% of new hires don’t work and even though research shows that programs significantly reduce the likelihood that new hires will leave before the cost of their recruitment is recouped.

Given that the costs of hiring a senior customer insight leader can be anything from 50%-200% of annual salary, more businesses are seriously looking at on-boarding strategies. One growing solution, investigated in the Coaching at Work article, is on-boarding coaching, which allows people in senior roles to get more comfortable with not having all the answers. It provides a safe environment for the expression of concerns or issues that would otherwise feel too vulnerable. Such new hires also mention the benefit of having time set aside in their busy schedules to look at the bigger picture (something I’ve heard before from my clients).

Top tips from the “Gainful Employment” article include:

  1. Arrange to first meet new hires prior to start date or induction;
  2. Plan to achieve goals of individual and the organization;
  3. Identify “quick wins” and support early actions to generate support and feedback;
  4. Provide feedback — to client, line manager and stakeholders, identifying next stages, goals the necessary continuing dialogue.

The growing evidence that such interventions are helpful and cost-effective does not surprise me. What is of interest is that a technique that had previously been reserved for the more senior directors is becoming more widely applied to empower strong early performance across key senior and middle-management roles. So, this is of direct relevance for new customer insight leader hires.

While speaking at industry events throughout 2014, I became aware of the scale of the talent wars happening in the customer insight recruitment market. Many companies are struggling to recruit even the analysts they need, let alone their customer insight leader, and are finding the need to pay more and take gambles on imperfect candidates to achieve their targets. Although this is a problem for the industry, it should also be an opportunity for coaches with a background in customer insight.

It will be interesting to see how the fusion of niche technical expertise and coaching practice develops to meet the needs of all those companies who need to ensure their new customer insight leader has a productive first 90 days.

Suicide Prevention: Talk About It at Work

Suicide is a serious public health problem — but is preventable.

Suicide has a dramatic impact on the workplace in both human and financial terms. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide was the 10th-leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2010. There were 38,364 suicides—an average of 105 each day. In addition to the loss of life and suffering of surviving family members, colleagues and friends, the suicides resulted in an estimated $34.6 billion in combined medical and work loss costs.

In addition, for every one suicide, there are 25 attempted suicides. An estimated 8.3 million adults (3.7% of the adult U.S. population) reported having suicidal thoughts in the past year.

We want business leaders to understand that suicide prevention IS a workplace issue, and that they can create an environment where individuals are more likely to reach out for the help they need.

You likely already have employee benefits, such as an employee assistance program (EAP), in place that offer valuable resources for employees and family members in need. Unfortunately, most people who attempt suicide do not reach out to the resources that are available to them.

Simply talking can save lives. (Let’s dispel the myth right here – talking about it does not trigger suicidal thoughts or attempts. When the subject of suicide is treated responsibly in a non-sensational manner, discussion can generate increased awareness and understanding, thereby increasing the chance that the person suffering from suicidal thoughts will seek and receive support and help.) When barriers come down and people seek help for mental illness, as many as 90% can significantly reduce their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

So, specifically, what can you do?

You can begin with a campaign to de-stigmatize mental health issues and to encourage people to seek help. Create a supportive environment where corporate leadership shows that they value physical and emotional health. Convey key messages such as, “It’s a sign of strength to ask for help,” and encourage employees to take talk of suicide seriously, whether in a family member, friend or co-worker.

Many employers are beginning to create greater dialogue on this topic. The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention is the public-private partnership advancing the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. The Workplace Task Force of this group, in particular, has developed several public service announcements targeted at employers and organizational leaders. The group has also developed tools to support the workplace in addressing suicide prevention.

For more information, including a comprehensive blueprint for a workplace suicide prevention program, visit the National Alliance for Suicide Prevention, Workplace Task Force.

For information on an anti-stigma campaign, visit stampoutstigma.com.