Message from the Chair

Time to think about your career

The start of the new year can be a time of reflection, when many of us take stock and consider our personal paths, as well as where we are in our career development.

As we turn the calendar on a new year, we are not only reminded that we’re another year older and further down the path in both our personal and professional lives, it’s also when much of our industry resets the numbers. For most insurers, it’s the start of a new fiscal year and the top line sales and loss ratios are set back to zero.

On a personal level we look back and reflect on our accomplishments that we set out to do in the last year. We examine our personal growth and development, and ask ourselves if we kept those promises and resolutions to improve, to change and do better. These moments for reflection do become increasingly harder, as our world moves forward increasingly faster, but pausing and seeing where we came from and how we have truly developed ourselves is an important part of considering the path of where we’re going.

On a professional level, in most work places, your manager or employer is likely reflecting on your performance around this time. If you’re a manager or employer yourself, you are the one doing the reflecting, thinking about and assessing the contributions of your team members. The annual performance review – whether a formal process or a more casual one – provides an opportunity to examine how we have done over the prior period in our respective jobs. It can be an important opportunity to pause, reflect and refocus ourselves.

The performance review also provides an opportunity to communicate with your employer about your career: what is working for you and what you may want to change. In my last chair’s message, I shared thoughts on how our industry’s employers are working to offer workplaces that contribute to the well-being and happiness of insurance industry employees. It is a relationship of two parties, after all. And reviews can help open up lines of communication in a way that benefit both.

The self-assessment and beyond

Many organizations, particularly larger ones, manage a formal process for performance reviews. Oftentimes, the process begins with the individual contributor doing a self-assessment of objectives and goals set and attained (or set and missed – it happens!) from the past year.

Over the years, I’ve personally taken part in many performance reviews, both as a contributor and a manager, and one big takeaway is that you only get out of it what you put into it. Being prepared for a review means that you need to be able to articulate your contributions, especially those specific things that are not easily captured in traditional performance metrics. Most managers I know will take self-assessments into account as they do their part to formalize their review of your work or performance.

In an experience I had much earlier in my career, in a performance review meeting gone wrong, I had assumed my manager was well aware of the highlights of my underwriting performance from the year prior. When these were not recognized to my expectations, I was disappointed.  And I was annoyed with the suggestions for improvement I was offered, which focused not so much on what I had achieved, but at how I did the work and my development going forward. As I recall, the meeting did not end well. But it did drive me to become more assertive in my relationship with that manager. In hindsight, what I failed to appreciate was the extent to which my overall performance was being fairly assessed. The review was considering not just the great work done, but also helping to develop a plan going forward.  And while of course it is important to measure performance metrics, metrics are not the only consideration during a review.

Before you have your next performance review, take the time to hold up the self-assessment mirror and ask yourself not only if you’ve done the work, but also if you’ve grown in it personally in this past year, and what you can do in the future.

Opportunities to learn more

For more information about performance reviews, including great tips on how to maximize your experience, I encourage you to read Career Connections’ Trevor Buttrum’s piece on the subject in this issue. And you can listen (and see) Trevor speak about performance reviews with Margaret Parent, Director, Professionals’ Division here at the Institute, on a recording of a February 1 webinar we hosted to launch National Education Month last week.

February is National Education Month

And speaking of future development, it’s National Education Month at the Institute, and there’s a lot going on to support you as you continue in your career. The theme for this year’s NEM is creating a successful onboarding experience for new employees. But there’s a lot going on that will appeal to CIP Society members, both on a national and local level, including a free CIP Society webinar scheduled for February 22 on innovation in insurance. We encourage you to keep your eyes out all month for opportunities that can help you plan your future development. As CIP Society members, we have an opportunity to set the example for our colleagues, share our passion for continuing education, and to promote the message of an educated, experienced and ethical profession.

Mike Kosturik, BA, FCIP

Chair, National CIP Society