Leadership Development

Ontario, Property and Casualty

Situation Assessment:

  • Time Frame – September 2006 – September 2008
  • Industry – Property Casualty Insurance Broker
  • Total Associates – approximately 400
  • Employee turnover rate – 25%
  • Number of Locations – 13
  • Total Revenue – $50M
  • EBITDA Margin – 16%
  • Organic Growth – negative 6%

The operation is question had been through two leadership changes over a five-year period. The first leader was very decisive, inflexible and did not rely on associate input. The second leader usually sought associate input however was extremely indecisive and often flip flopped on decisions. The organization had the lowest EBITDA and organic growth among 25 other similar size operations in the company. Both margins and organic growth had been on the slide for the past three years. Local management had implemented a “union like” payroll grid and 30% of associates (mostly high performers) had been red circled as having a pay scale above the grid meaning any possibility for an annual raise or bonus was not possible. Within the organization there were 23 managers whose job did NOT include customer interaction. The managers fought regularly among themselves and were not willing to share clients or information in order to protect their own office bonus. In 2005, the operation spent approximately $1M in legal costs associated with employee terminations and wrongful dismissals excluding actual severance paid. In September 2006 a new CEO was brought in and immediately hired LeadersWay to help devise solutions.

Key Problems to Solve:

  • Decrease employee turnover, legal costs and severance costs
  • Improve EBITDA Margin
  • Improve Organic Growth
  • Create a sustainable culture to be ready to merge with and equal size acquisition within 2 years

The Process:
The situation assessment was given to LeadersWay and they were asked to create a plan to create a plan to help the CEO solve the key problems. After several meetings and interviews of staff, LeadersWay was able to point out that before any changes could be made the management team in place had to be evaluated and trained. Interviews revealed that much of the source of the employee disengagement was a direct result of the actions and styles of the associates managers. The first step was to perform trimetric assessments on all 23 managers. These assessments were able to quickly reveal those managers who were simply not suited based on their communication styles to be managers. Many of these had be high performers in their previous roles and were promoted to managers on that basis. The trimetric reports also revealed those mangers who although had the correct profile were struggling in their job. One on one coaching sessions began immediately with LeadersWay and the CEO for these managers. In addition monthly two day training sessions hosted and lead by LeadersWay began. Training was focused on emotional intelligence, coaching skills and communication styles. All mangers were exposed to all other managers’ profiles to help better understand their piers. The first 3 months were met with tremendous resistance as over half of the mangers had a three hour car ride to attend these sessions and were “stuck” in their old ways. However the message delivered by the CEO was, “change or leave”. Within 60 days, it was clear who was leading the resistance and those individuals were terminated. Soon after, a few more left and the group began to “gel” and learn. Within 6 months managers were asking when the next session was. Associates also started to see a change in their managers.

With the management group well on the way to recovery, LeadersWay then began to work with the CEO on changing the habits of the associates. Books were recommended for reading by all staff, monthly town halls with LeadersWay began and committees of associates (excluding managers) were given the top problems list above and asked to provide solutions. A few of the more interesting solutions implemented included the following:

  1. Removal of 300 personal printers to be replaced with network printers – annual savings in paper, toners and lease costs – $150,000 worth of printers were donated to local charities picked by the associates.
  2. Supplies day – staff went through their desks and offices and turned in all of the excess supplies they were holding on to such as paper pens etc – they collected three months worth of supplies – one time saving $30K
  3. A committee worked with the CEO to devise a new compensation plan and performance review plan – only the top 30% of performers received bonuses and those bonuses were 25% more than they had received in the past – the culture created was clear – average performance was not acceptable
  4. Gourmet coffee stations were eliminated and replace with regular coffee.
  5. A weekly survey to all staff was sent out and associates were asked to rank their peer’s level of engagement. The results were posted in the lobby for all customers to see – good or bad – and there were bad ones at the start! – However regardless customers seemed fascinated that we cared enough about them to post our level engagement

Results:

  • The program was a complete success. Below are the metrics that were achieved within 18 months by December 31, 2008.
  • EBITDA Margin – 31% – an additional $7.5M of EBITDA dollars
  • Organic Growth – 2% – an additional $4M of top line revenue
  • Employee Turnover – 10% – $1.8M saved in hiring and retraining costs
  • Legal Costs associated with terminations : ZERO – $1M in annual savings
  • Managers Terminated: 4
  • Managers repurposed: 6
  • Managers Replaced; Zero
  • Ontario was the winner of the Chairman’s Award for the best overall operation in the company for 2007
  • In 2008 Hub Ontario merged with another operation equal in size and the management teams were successfully combined and operate today.