04/9/20

How to Drive Change Management within the Insurance Industry

By: Chris Dickinson, Senior Principal

For many insurance leaders looking to improve customer experience, launch new products, or implement new technology, there is an underlying theme behind each of these actions—change management. And change management is an activity weighing on leaders’ minds around the world. According to a 2019 LIMRA study that analyzed the biggest challenges of C-suite life insurance executives across 62 countries, one-third of executives cite change management as their greatest challenge.

No matter the goal in mind, anything new has the potential to cause disruption, confusion, and not yield the desired outcome. Whether you have an entire program dedicated to improving outcomes, paying attention to several critical areas can help ensure the goals you’ve set are achieved and that you have the people on board to do so.

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Embrace the human factor

People fear change and, often, for a good reason—the change could mean a different job or added responsibilities, a new management style, or a change in performance expectations. Insurers looking to implement any change management strategy should first start with their people—have they been historically open to change? What are some of their concerns, fears, or apprehensions? Who are the potential change champions that can help influence this group?

While delivering organizational goals is paramount, employees will be concerned about personal change, which often creates resistance and anxiety during these scenarios. Help address these concerns proactively by clearly articulating what you’ll be changing and how that might impact an individual’s future. When preparing for the conversation, the little things matter – like putting thought into what is said, who the message is coming from and listening carefully to employees’ responses.

Identify change drivers

The competition is vast, and if an insurer isn’t continually looking for ways to provide value to its customers, the insurer may find its client base getting their needs met elsewhere. Because of this, many insurers are modernizing their technology, shifting their business model, and changing roles and processes to help competitively differentiate themselves in the market – all of which are activities requiring significant change management.

To help drive change management internally, employees must be aware of why things are changing—is it to unveil a new product offer to attract a different generation of customers? Improve profit margin so money can be reinvested into obtaining and retaining talent? When they can see a purpose behind an activity, employees will be able to understand the business imperative and clearly connect their roles and actions to the desired result.

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Overcommunicate and encourage

When it comes to change management, it’s important to have a plan to communicate and engage with employees. When an outcome is understood and roles are clearly defined, employees can feel more at ease and see themselves as part of working toward a greater purpose. Enthusiasm can be high at the beginning of implementing something new, but leaders will benefit by continuing to communicate throughout the activity and long after that. Change management is a never-ending process, especially for those impacted by transformation.

When looking for opportunities to communicate and engage with affected teams, consider announcing small victories. Celebrating victories and milestones along the way can help promote and encourage positive change behavior. Other opportunities for communication include sharing constructive feedback received from customers and internal parties, providing ongoing updates about progress toward the desired outcome, and highlighting what’s in it for individual employees (and how they are impacted). To keep encouraging change-positive behavior, offer rewards and recognition for change champions.

In closing, business and technology modernization will not succeed without organizational change. Organizational change requires thoughtful, focused change management care and feeding. With digital transformation leading the charge, insurers must develop and nurture a “change-ready” culture—one that is flexible and able to respond to evolving market needs.

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