ALIGNING PERFORMANCE IN SUPPORT OF OPERATIONAL CHANGE
Historically, AJ Gallagher’s growth has been through acquisition, buying regional and local brokerage firms, which they then develop into branches. Founded in 1927 by Arthur Gallagher, AJ Gallagher is a US-based global insurance brokerage firm and risk management firm, focusing on commercial clients. They act as mediators between insurance providers and consumers, helping customers manage their insurance portfolios. Currently, AJ Gallagher is the world’s third largest brokerage firm with over 150 acquisitions globally.
This expansion was crucial in AJ Gallagher outpacing other firms and landing itself some of the most profitable clients; however, it presented the company with additional challenges between their branches. Each location essentially functioned on its own system, resulting in a high rate of inconsistencies throughout the company. The lack of a defined internal operations process meant that roles were not explicitly allocated, placing high pressure on internal workforce. There was also little effort placed on operational or customer service training, emerging needs to the company’s growth.
Understanding that these issues would need to be addressed before any continued growth, AJ Gallagher began the change management process to ensure that several branches were stabilized. The integration of processes, technology, tools, and roles would ensure that each branch functioned on the same system, eliminating excess pressure on talent and the need to compensate for a lacking structure. With this initiative came the risk that the workforce would not transition easily, so AJ Gallagher sought out SDI Consulting’s change management skills, asking SDI to create training strategies for specific roles and managing personnel throughout the large change. Specifically, AJ Gallagher had conceptualized a training program, Learnit, which they asked SDI to build.
STRATEGY FOR CORE GROWTH
In order to develop Learnit into an effective program, we had to define what people needed to know within the system for their individual job roles. Since AJ Gallagher had no previous operational systems training, SDI started from scratch, collaborating with subject matter experts to define the knowledge content Learnit would need to deliver and creating a training program around it. We needed to analyze the user experience, or how the training would be used. Based on AJ Gallagher’s talent and workforce, Learnit would need to provide different ways to facilitate knowledge acquisition and application. Participants would need to access the content at any time during the day as a reference, so flexibility was a priority for the program.
Because the program needed to connect to AJ Gallagher’s operational strategy, SDI knew the program couldn’t be a simple task-based learning system. Instead, it would need to be an insightful program that connected the need for platform consistency and an engaged workforce. We also needed to stay in constant communication with the team at AJ Gallagher, having daily management meetings to ensure that the project met the needs of all large, moving parts in the overall initiative. With needs fully assessed, SDI began to design Learnit around all the program requirements.
DESIGNING AROUND A LARGER INITIATIVE
Learnit focused on training for AJ Gallagher’s four key systems: agency management, document management, proposals, and workflow tools. Based on the need for an interactive and engaging learning experience, SDI created a series of eLearning modules. These modules included simulations, videos, job aids, and eLearning courses. The simulations were centered on how to complete tasks while the videos and job aids provided an outlet for knowledge acquisition and support.
The singular initiative of Learnit was broken into systems and phases that engaged users in specific learning objectives. The systems were linear, ensuring consistency in the organizational process. This program design allowed for several different learning styles to be cultivated while still meeting a need for consistency. Having a program that reinvented the traditional training course allowed Learnit to also be a point-of reference, it was created to ensure learning existed after initial use as a resource, always accessible. With the assets developed and designed, we had to also consider how to implement Learnit efficiently.
IMPLEMENTATION AND ENGAGEMENT
Being such a large program, SDI released Learnits in intervals, sending new ones out every few weeks to engage the users in new modules. This ensured that the users had the opportunity to acquire knowledge, engage in the modules, and utilize the skills before the next module was released. SDI focused on implementing not just clear and engaging content, the different eLearning modules were also assets to the company, allowing AJ Gallagher personnel to access them whenever content was needed.
The systems were in constant evolution to accommodate the changing culture of the company. At several times during the implementation process, AJ Gallagher made additional developments in leveraging the company’s global infrastructure, so SDI was quick to update the content to meet these developments.
PREPARED FOR CHANGE AND GROWTH
Talent personnel at AJ Gallagher were overwhelmingly engaged in the Learnits, asking SDI to develop more modules for additional programs. User feedback indicated that the Learnits prepared the workforce for the changes at AJ Gallagher, and that when the change management initiative went live, downtime was greatly reduced. The people at AJ Gallagher had the resources they needed to transition effectively, and referring to these resources as needed served as a guide for problems that arose in transition.
The overall initiative led by AJ Gallagher executives showed employees that the company was invested in training and building resources for its workforce. AJ Gallagher continues to use these eLearning modules for talent development and as resources to refer to for clarity and consistency. Since the partnership with SDI and AJ Gallagher, the company rose from fourth to third in the world’s largest brokerage risk, showing that investing in the growth of talent allows the entire company to grow.