Zurich Financial Services
The situation: A massive restructuring of the Life Business at Zurich Financial Services in the UK has meant that in the past few years Zurich has taken out 40 per cent of the management line and reduced the number of grading levels from 15 to around 6. Key services, such as marketing, have become shared services. “It’s meant a big expansion of individual roles and responsibilities across the business for my team who are becoming involved in new, more exciting projects than ever before,” says Tony Solomon , Intermediary Marketing Director.
“In this environment clarity of expectations and clarity of outcomes are essential”The expansion of shared services arrangements brings its own leadership challenges. Providing a service across the business means being able to negotiate conflicting priorities. “In this environment clarity of expectations and clarity of outcomes are essential” explains Solomon.
The approach: Zurich believes that its managers need not only leadership skills but also the systems, structures and – most importantly – the values of the organization to back them up if they are going to succeed in the more collegiate environment they now have. “To function as a leader your team needs to be able to understand what your values are, what you are here to do and the purpose of their role is in getting there. If as an organization and a leader you can be true to your values then you have something quite special.”
Zurich decided to work with BlessingWhite on a series of workshops based on the Leading Out Loud program. Zurich has called the program Connection and all management grades are involved.
The results: Zurich has moved from having a management culture where staff feared speaking out to an open leadership style where people aren’t afraid to ask questions and leaders are prepared to give honest answers. It is not always the answer people want but at least they can understand why and how changes are going to happen.
“This stuff works brilliantly,” Solomon says. “Our employee survey scores show we are now entering the ranks of the high performing company whereas three or four years ago we were languishing down the list with most other financial services companies. We’ve done a huge amount of work on our values. And it’s been the most important part of the process because leadership now is about being able to inspire people and take them willingly to a place that has yet to be created.”
“…Leadership now is about being able to inspire people and take them willingly to a place that has yet to be created.”