The impact of new technology, new distribution models, changing customer behaviours and tightening local and global regulations have hit the New Zealand insurance industry hard. Tower Insurance was struggling to keep up with the pace of change and was losing customers and market share. The business was also experiencing a high turnover of staff coupled with reasonably low engagement. There was a clear need to lift performance.
In August 2015, a new CEO was appointed and a predominantly new Executive Leadership Team (ELT) formed at the beginning of 2016. Faye Luxton, General Manager People and Culture, was one of only two individuals brought onto the ELT team from within the business.
“Our new CEO was tasked with creating an entirely new business strategy and identifying any underlying issues,” explained Faye. “I was combining several roles at the time: managing programmes and events and sitting on the ELT. I was drowning and needed some support. After failing to find a candidate to join the team that met universal approval within the business, I started to look for an external Organisational Development consultant.”
Long Term Thinking
Beyond Performance was one of two companies under consideration by the ELT. “We immediately felt comfortable with Clare and Jake. They introduced some long-term thinking but also understood the importance of meeting the immediate need. Beyond Performance rolled up their sleeves immediately and helped to design content for an upcoming People Leaders day — then we started the conversation around other deliverables.”
The task ahead was multilayered: Faye and her team needed to organise several leadership events, create, launch and embed a set of company-wide values (a need which came to light after completion of a cultural survey), create a clear pathway to achieve a change in culture, and work with the new ELT to help the team gel and work effectively together.
“We had been quite a reactive business but with Beyond Performance’s help, we quickly started to take a strategic look six to nine months ahead. Now that there’s more clarity about the business goals and more accountability from within the management teams, we’re looking two to five years ahead,” commented Faye. “Beyond Performance were able to question and explore issues in a way that moved us to another place. Everything was intentional and purposeful.”
As the new leadership team gained confidence, work began to progress more quickly and the team found that they were getting a lot more done.
Aligning values to business strategy
One of the most important pieces of work was to align the company values to the long-term business strategy. The decision was made to employ a medium-term culture strategy and implement actions around values and leadership competency and put baseline frameworks in place.
“It’s still early days but people are starting to challenge each other constructively, have honest, open conversations and provide feedback,” said Faye Luxton. “We’re definitely on the right track. I hear people using the language around our new values and this gives them permission to act in certain ways.”
Beyond Performance offered an external point of view which was welcomed by the Tower ELT. The executive team’s confidence grew as Beyond demonstrated their ability to do what was required within given time-frames and produce good quality work.
“They really know their stuff,” said Faye. “The Beyond Performance team are well-read and they know what works across a range of different businesses and sectors. They constantly challenge themselves — and they are really easy to work with.”
One of the outcomes of the leadership development work has been increased collaboration and co-operation in meetings. According to Faye, this has changed the way Tower’s ELT uses meetings. “Beyond Performance challenged and tweaked the way that we get work done. They were purposeful and honest in a very respectful way. Clare has an ability to challenge and provide feedback that’s easy to hear.”
After organising multiple leadership events, launching and creating engagement around the new company values and working closely with the executive team, Beyond Performance has earned the role of trusted partner. “They are credible, likeable and you can rely on them.”