Traditionally, insurance organizations have consisted of siloed departments that are each responsible for specific parts of the business. As the industry evolves, insurers are responding to a shifting environment and finding value in working with more agility and efficiency. Collaboration among departments is becoming more important than ever.
Effective collaboration helps break down barriers among teams, leading to more fluid and streamlined processes. This enables insurers to harness the strengths of individual departments and strategically leverage those skills across the organization. Additionally, by working more closely together, employees are better able to understand other departments’ roles, motivations and success metrics. As a result, organizations with a culture of collaboration are able to optimize resources to deliver projects on time and within scope.
Collaboration is important within all departments; however, as the industry undergoes a number of regulations and shifts, compliance is an area that is currently top of mind for many insurers. Governance, risk management and compliance teams touch most projects and, especially with direct to consumer products, ramifications can occur as a result of misalignment. However, the compliance department is often brought in too late, causing a delay in a project’s completion and resulting in redundant work. By working closely with these teams early on, departments can ensure they are aligned throughout the entirety of a project and avoid roadblocks that cost both time and money.
Best Practices for Collaboration
When creating a culture of collaboration, ensuring employees understand its purpose and desired value is vital for success. In our experience, some of the most seamless transitions we’ve seen have been the result of individuals who moved from different areas of the organization into compliance roles. This dual perspective creates an opportunity to bridge teams and develop a common understanding.
While shifting talent to other departments may not always be feasible, it demonstrates one of the keys to collaboration success: a willingness to understand different teams’ goals and drivers, while proactively creating processes to improve interactions.
There are several additional best practices that can help insurers adopt a culture of collaboration, not just with compliance, but among all teams.
Gain support from leadership. It’s vital to get buy-in and support from the top-down. Organizational leadership and management teams can set an example by visibly working with one another and encouraging their teams to leverage the knowledge and skill sets of other departments.
Appoint collaboration ambassadors. In addition to getting leadership involved, appoint individuals who can become ambassadors of change. These individuals should have an understanding of the importance of collaboration and be able to model and share its benefits with peers.
Expect growing pains. As teams begin to work more closely together, there will be bumps along the way. Anticipate these hiccups and encourage teams to view them as opportunities to learn and enhance processes.
Engage Subject Matter Experts to help with the transition. As with most special projects, it’s important that employees are able to dedicate time to exploring and defining the collaboration process. To help mitigate day-to-day work, it may be necessary to bring in temporary talent to ensure departments are able to stay up and running at a normal pace.
Communicate. Communication is vital to success. Ensure leadership and management teams are explaining the shift to collaboration in a consistent way. This should include how employees will be impacted, the desired benefits, changes to employees’ specific roles and responsibilities, and workload expectations. Create a forum for open communication and encourage discussion around questions and concerns.
Celebrate successes and reward a collaborative mindset. Employees should proactively seek out ways to better work together. Encourage a true culture shift by acknowledging and celebrating these efforts throughout the organization.
While getting started with collaboration may seem daunting, the potential pay-off is well worth it. By starting with leadership, enlisting temporary support to help staff focus on the process and proactively seeking to understand and assist other teams, departments can break down silos and work most effectively.