Jo Manchester, the Human Resources and Performance Manager at Avant Mutual, tells LEADERSCAPE about an evidence-based insight raising initiative staged immediately following a restructure.
Twelve months later, she shares the results and lessons.
Leaderscape (LS): Please tell us about Avant Mutual?
Jo Manchester (JM): Avant is a mutual that provides insurance, advice and defence to protect doctors.
Our vision is to be a trusted protector and adviser to members, both professionally and personally. To achieve this we are more than just an insurance company as we look to protect our members’ reputations and livelihoods. Avant provides protection against their risks, advises on strategies to manage those risks and supports them in good medical practice.
LS: From a people perspective, what did you feel you must get right in 2016?
JM: One of the things we are talking to our members about is evidence based practice and we wanted to apply the same focus to our people strategy. So a heavy focus has been on insight raising and using data on people to create more tailored learning packages that address the needs of the individual and their performance in role. We are specifically looking at modern practices for performance management and, of course, a continued focus on leadership and management development. Historically we have taken a program approach, and that has served us well to get us to this point, but our future is about better segmenting people by their learning needs and developing tailored and blended solutions, including things like action learning.
LS: What were the conditions that prompted you to meet HFL?
JM: We had completed a significant restructure which resulted in the creation of new leadership roles. Rather than using the information we had, and given that there would be internal competition for each role, we needed an objective selection process. We expected some cynicism if we only ran a traditional interview style process internally. The process had to have rigour to give everyone the confidence that the right people were selected. So our own interviews were coupled with the assessment centre which made the selections more robust, transparent and meritorious
LS: What made you choose HFL?
JM: From my very first conversation with the HFL team, I was confident HFL had the capability to deliver a quality outcome. My account director was energetic and very focussed on my requirements. He worked with the HFL team to develop and implement the project plan in an incredibly tight time-frame. I found the experience easy and always felt I was in a safe pair of hands.
LS: How successful was the project and how did you measure that?
JM: 8 months post the selection decisions, we’re confident we selected the right people and all are performing as we can see our people are following their new leadership teams. The insights provided by the process confirmed what we felt to be true regarding the current and potential leadership capability of our talent. Viewing the people in role over the last 6 months has really confirmed the results that were presented to us and we can see how that is playing out. We’ve proven the value of the tool. Importantly, those who we not selected this time have all been retained and are also responding well as we continue to work through their development needs.
LS: What didn’t go that well during delivery?
JM: The project plan and implementation were delivered brilliantly and well and truly met expectations.
But, not being able to use calculators for the numerical reasoning element caused some frustration, resulting in some of the feedback not landing as effectively as it could have.
Also, we elected to do some feedback sessions by phone which were not as effective as the face to face with HFL consultants.
LS: General comments about working with HFL?
JM: We’ve recently engaged HFL to provide FASTLEAD, a program for front line leaders, so the partnership with HFL continues and is testimony to the work they have done for us. The fact that we are still talking regularly is a clear indication that it was a successful project.
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