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Insurance Blues!


As a Training consultant for a large insurance firm I have recently become involved in the review of their 'Technical Induction Course'. As it suggests there is a heavy loading in the technical aspects of the all the policies they cover. I would like an example of a successful, participative session (or ideas towards one) that will convince them that it does not need to be a case of 'pin your ears back while I launch into all the facts and figures'. Generally the delegates have a spread of experience in the insurance industry, from none to several years, but would have very little prior knowledge of the products we offer. They are tested on the content at the end of the course. Thank you for yout help.
Alec Bates

8 Responses

  1. Where’s the Problem
    With respect, if the purpose of the session(s) is/are to transfer information, and the course will be followed by an exam on information stored, what’s wrong with “tell, tell, tell”?

    Surely the real question is NOT, “How can I do something different?” so much as “What approach will best achieve the required results?”

    Just a thought

  2. Snores and Yawns
    Snores and Yawns all through the session with consistently poor retention as a result if they are talked at. It encourages switch off and passive learning at a snail’s pace.

    We have the same problem, Alec, with some of our legal topics, when we teach crime and family law students love it because its all sex, money, alcohol and violence.

    Contract law is more akin to what you are doing and we have adopted this approach. Unless Insurance policies have changed and now include sexy little clauses!

    We use this approach;

    1. A set of terms and conditions with some that are enforceable some that are not.

    2. A case file of material that is interesting such as a small business that has entered into a contract and a variety of events that cause contractual problems. This could be just as easily run with a policy and set of circumstances.

    3. An exercise that demands the students to work as a team and deliver a solution to the business problem using the terms and conditions.

    4. A study pack on information that they can use to solve the problem of some 20-30 pages.

    5.Apply a group of students after 10 minute PowerPoint display on the key areas and give them 2 hours and as much access to you as they need. The only rule is they cannot use you in place of reading and attempting to solve the problem.

    6. Repeat in afternoon after brief synopsis of the key areas they needed to work harder on.

    This seems to go down so well with all the students we have used it on. They enjoy splitting up the work and rise to the challenge of ensuring that each knows what they need to. Testing at the end for us is done by exam and also by assignment. Those who study actively in this way retain and understand the work better and use it more speedily after training.

    I really hope it works for you, I have stood for hours at the front watching their eyes glaze over and hit on this idea as I realised the only way I could intergrate with the material was to use it.

    TBD Global Ltd
    0870 241 3998

  3. Horses for Courses
    Strange, in three decades as a teacher and trainer I never had that problem. Perhaps, to coin a phrase, “it’s the WAY I tell ’em”

  4. Telling-v-participation
    As I have already said to Paul off line we have moved into participation as a result of vast feedback from students. Participative training works for us in a way that telling did not. Management training the same, students prefer to actively use the materials rather than listen to a tutor, however lively.

    Perhaps there is a secret here we need to know. Share it Paul!

    TBD Global Ltd

  5. Horses for Courses 2
    I should emphasise that my recommendation was specific to this particular question, and the statement that trainees would be tested “at the end of the course”.

    I’m certainly in favour of an interactive approach, where appropriate, but where the course is specifically intended to present “facts”, which must then be accurately regurgitated, I believe the “tell, tell, tell” approach is most “appropriate”.

    I should also point out that I’m assuming that, in this context, “tell, tell, tell” is being used as an abbreviation for:

    “Tell them what you’re going to tell them,
    Tell them,
    Tell them what you’ve told them”

    Another way of putting this is:

    “Use semantic priming – before you start, provide a framework for the key elements of what will be in the course”

    “Present the information the trainees will require. This stage does NOT exclude an *appropriate* level of interaction. It does, however, assume that the trainees won’t be able to draw the required information from their existing resources (see wording of the original question) and must be given it by the trainer”

    “Provide revision/clarification session(s) so the trainees are clear about what they need to know, that they know it, and that they can retrieve the information speedily and accurately on demand”

    Also, I *personally* like to use various features of Lozanov’s Accelerated Learning process, such as the “passive” and “active” sessions with baroque music accompaniment.

  6. Colin Corder
    Colin Corder wrote an excellent book some years ago called I think ‘Hard & Soft Training’. In it he explored the problem of relating course content to course delivery systems on the basis of just content.

    Hard topics were subject dependant. The content never changed and the inherent details were the same no matter who you trained.
    Completing forms and documentation would be seen as a hard topic as it didn’t matter who you were, it had to be done in one particular way.

    Soft topics were person and context dependant. That is to say they changed and transformed themselves according to who was acquiring the content.
    Leadership would be seen as a soft topic as it transmutes and changes according to context and the person using the leadership skills.

    Corder identified the immediate issue that as soon as we encounter a Hard Topic there is danger we choose to use Hard Training techniques; Lectures, Presentations, (Telling, rather than practising and engaging) Similarly the Soft Topics can and are typically delivered in a Soft Training way: Discussions, Reflective Reviews, Facilitation.

    Corder suggested that some Soft Topics positively benefit from being delivered in a Hard way and vice versa. Consequently wearing a hard hat in a construction area is typically ‘trained’ in a hard way on H&S course, you are simple told the legislative laws and told to do it. Delivered in a soft way however, Participants could explore what effect a disability pension and loss of mobility would have on their life style, family and house, the results are so much more effective than just ‘being told’. One reason Hersey & Blanchard’s model is so popular I suspect is that a soft subject; leadership is delivered in a hard way, i.e. there are 3 key elements, Goal Setting, Praise and Reprimanding. There are 4 Leadership style and 4 Developmental levels and this is how they fit together, for a young supervisor struggling in their first job this pragmatic no nonsense approach is manner from heaven.

    So in brief Corder suggests consciously mixing and matching your training techniques with your training topic rather than adopting any one pattern – it’s excellent advice.

  7. Accelerated Learning

    I am sure you have heard of accelerated learning but if not it is worth investigating. It is a training philosophy that uses such things as music and activity to re-enforce learning and is designed to appeal to both the left and right brain functions and all learning styles.

    I have heard of one AL trainer getting his group to put together a block diagram of a nuclear power station on the floor of the training room and getting them to walk around it as if they were the cooling water, then at given points stopping their progress and getting them to figure out what effect this would have.

    You may possibly like to use sketches or story telling where one group trains the rest in a very engaging way but still under your guidance and direction. We have used this approach when we run ITCs for our clients.

    I hope this helps

    Howard Rose

  8. Specific ideas for you
    Hi Alec
    I started my training ‘life’ doing exactly as you describe-with motor, household, travel caravan etc insurances, also before it was so heavily regulated some life products.
    Some ideas are
    1 Quizzes. Split into groups & the groups prepare the quiz questions. They are learning during the preparation phase, the quiz phase and the inevitable disputes.
    2Groups or individuals have to prepare either a radio advert or telly advert to’sell’ the product/service
    3 Individuals or groups prepare a poster to ‘sell’ the product or service
    4 Individuals or groups prepare comparison charts of either their ‘own’ products/services, or their own product/service against competitors.
    5 Claims stories/case studies really help to create interest

    If you’d like to talk further I’d be happy to help



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