Swiss Life takes a multi-local approach to managing its international business, which had resulted in varying maturities of management knowledge and practice in different countries. Business units in each country were identifying their own skills gaps and providing their own training. There was an opportunity to share common ground, providing e-Learning to support the group-wide management competency model.
“We wanted to find something that could be offered to managers in a self-directed, self-paced environment, to support their roles as developers of people and developers of business. We had nothing in place except some regional-based programs,” says Bruno Steurer, Group Head Learning & Development.
It was vital that content was multi-lingual as e-Learning has to be available in English, German and French. After wide consultation with HR and managers from all the countries, Swiss Life began to implement CrossKnowledge’s Training on Demand, Community on Demand and the CrossKnowledge Library in all three languages.
The new Swiss Life “Management Booster” e-Learning portal now has 250 learning programs and 500 video clips, all supporting Swiss Life’s own Group Competency Model (GCM). The GCM embraces five competencies: professional expertise, entrepreneurship, operational performance, co-operation and leadership.
In July 2013, Swiss Life launched Management Booster in all the countries in which it operates. A comprehensive evaluation phase involving around 500 managers concluded in Autumn 2013, when Swiss Life was surveying employee response to the solution before rolling it out to a total of 1.000 managers. “Initial reactions have been positive and people found its content very attractive and valuable,” says Bruno Steurer.
The CrossKnowledge solution will be particularly valuable to smaller business units that do not have dedicated HR or training departments. It will also support business transformation that is underway in many markets with learning that is customized in look and feel to that business unit.
Bring Your Own Device
Managers can access e-Learning modules on tablet devices from home as well as in the workplace. Swiss Life has already started to roll out a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) practice allowing employees to use their own tablets and smartphones to access certain corporate systems including e-Learning. It has developed App GMG2015 (Group Management Guide) to support the group-wide program called Swiss Life 2015. The App is aimed at supporting managers of all levels in preparing and carrying out management tasks. It contains a library of 26 management topics including self-management, managing employees, communications, performance management and leading teams.
Different countries and cultures have had varied reactions to the prospect of employees self-directing their own learning on their own devices.
In Germany, Swiss Life is completely reorganizing its structures and reshaping its business strategy. Managers face traditional change management challenges and learning and development staff are promoting self-directed e-Learning where there has been a historical culture of mistrust towards employees managing their time.
Swiss Life France, whose employees’ number 2.000, has begun an initiative to reinforce customer orientation. It is looking to embed modules, sessions or elements of the CrossKnowledge Library into its existing LMS. Achieving customer orientation is a key aim across Swiss Life. “If you want to get to customer orientation we strongly believe that you must first achieve employee engagement through a deliberate employee orientation,” says Bruno Steurer.
In Switzerland, the Management Team of Swiss Life Switzerland concluded for their managers and employees leadership and behavioral principles to meet their specific customer promise. With an individualized selection of CrossKnowledge’s learning resources allotted to these principles customer centricity starts at home. They are part of an integral transformation approach and process of the next two to three years.
In future, Swiss Life plans to build on the interactive “My discussions” area of the e-Learning platform that allows learners to share and discuss learning. Its strategy is to foster use of the discussion features within market unit specific or temporary knowledge sharing groups, made up of top level, senior talent or topical interest groups. Learning and development staff will observe how this contributes to knowledge sharing groups’ engagement or assignments before considering how best to roll it out further. Swiss Life is also considering to launch its own version of CK’s new TV series-based training The Team, possibly customizing it to each business unit
“First impressions have been very encouraging. Some people did ask how they were going to find the time to do the e-Learning but we pointed out that they do not need to attend seminars any more. Rather than go into formal education mode we would rather invite them to study on their own at a time that fits best with their agenda,” says Bruno Steurer.
He adds, “We think the platform helps us to make our offers more self-paced and more efficient and more effective so that we can rely on the e-Learning solution to fulfill our training needs.” Swiss Life Group is now looking forward to creating a solid management base across all its territories, comprising managers with consistent skillsets that address all the competency requirements the group needs to succeed in a multinational marketplace.