Editor in Chief
In their new book, Optimizing Human Capital Development, lead author Jia Wang, and co-authors Barry Lawrence and Bharani Nagarathnam report some interesting findings that distributors committed to training and developing their talent should consider when adopting new management practices or rethinking old ones. After 18 months of intensive research, which included surveying 18 distributors across industry segments and conducting workshops with each participant, the trio of Texas A&M University professors found a number of commonalties in how distributors manage and develop their greatest assets. Here is one that should speak to E&S dealers and distributors: “While training programs are offered to different groups of employees, the sales force typically receives most of the attention,” says Wang, a professor of Human Resource Development at Texas A&M.
The other group that tends to get more attention when it comes to training is new employees. Onboarding programs “generally focus on new hires, not newly promoted employees” for two reasons, says Wang. First, new hires are new and require the time and attention to learn their roles. “Typically, high performers get promoted to managerial positions in recognition of their outstanding performance,” says Wang. “The underlying assumption is that if you know how to produce, you know how to lead. Unfortunately, in most cases, this is not true. Producing results individually and leading a group of people require different skill sets.”
Optimizing Human Capital Development, a collaborative effort between Texas A&M and The NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence, addresses these missteps along with the HR challenges currently affecting the distribution industry. Also included are a series of best practices and a mapping tool aimed at aiding distributors in enhancing their training and development processes. In the Operations section of this issue, Wang serves up a few appetizers in the form of thought-provoking questions and action steps, encouraging E&S companies to rethink how they invest in cultivating their people.
California-based dealer Avanti, whose name means forward in Italian, relies heavily on digital tools like a wiki to train employees and create a continuous learning environment. Featured in our cover story, “Becoming a Tech Company,” its customized site helps with onboarding and ensuring a consistent customer experience, says President Rory Clark. Technology has been huge in Avanti’s success but people, he emphasizes, will continue to be the key driver of it.
We concur. This issue is devoted to the tools and methods companies in our industry and beyond are using to educate and train their teams. How is FEDA contributing to the cause? Turn to page 22 to learn more about the association’s new education and training program.