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Assessing internal talent on a global scale at Generali

A renewed focus on internal talent is one of the positives to emerge from the last 12 months. At Generali, where a move to virtual assessment was already on the roadmap, a new assessment solution has enabled the multi-national insurance giant to select talent for its global development programme fairly and at scale without disruption.

At a global company like Italian headquartered Generali, success is dependent on the ability to deploy, develop and move key talent across projects, across the business and across borders. Federica Bocciardi, Head Group Leadership Development at Generali, was joined at Sova Assessment’s recent webinar by our CEO Dr Alan Bourne and CRO Christine Higgs to discuss how Generali manages global reskilling and development through a fully virtualised solution.

Three years ago, Generali embarked on a new journey through the launch of a new group strategy. The overarching mission of Generali is to become a lifetime partner to its customers. But this is more than a strapline says Federica. The new strategy was the beginning of a vast business and cultural transformation programme.

For Federica’s team, a new strategic context necessitated a new lens through which to identify talent. “The fostering of a different organisational culture meant that the people who would drive the company in the future would drive it in a completely different direction to the past”, she says.

To begin the journey of cultural transformation, Generali defined a new competency model. The new model is based on four key behaviours which would become the basis of talent assessment and development.

Internal assessment at Generali

Generali had an existing internal talent development centre which required in-person assessment. Federica decided to re-visit the centre, driven by four factors:

  1. The new business strategy required Generali to identify a different kind of leader to take the business into the future.
  2. The existing solution required a lot of administration and, given the scale of the business and that participant numbers were increasing year on year, this was only set to grow. Any new solution would ideally reduce cost and administration time, demonstrating efficiency in the talent team.
  3. As the assessment centre is targeted at some of Generali’s best people, it needs to be a worthwhile, engaging and in-depth developmental activity regardless of the outcome.
  4. This opportunity is career changing so it’s important that those who enter the group talent pool do so fairly. Federica believed that technology had the potential to reduce bias in selection.

“These are the people who we want to accelerate to strategic positions across the globe. The assessments change the careers of people who enter the group talent pool and we knew that adding tech would help us achieve our goals.”

Federica Bocciardi, Head Group Leadership Development, Generali

Based on these four drivers, Federica and her team worked with Sova Assessment to develop a fully virtual assessment centre built around Generali’s new competency model. Although the programme was already in development before COVID-19, the move to digital has minimised disruption to the programme with the new virtual assessment centre going live in June 2020.

“We saw this opportunity before COVID-19. We needed a solution for a large volume of candidates. One that could be scaled and that could help us store and manage and analyse the data all in one place” says Federica.

The Sova Assessment solution

The Generali virtual assessment platform is simple in its branding, presentation and flow. In line with Generali’s strategy, the focus is on simplicity and customer centricity as well as making the best use of technology.

For assessors and candidates, the centre is easy to manage with assessments, interviews, scoring and analytics all in one platform. For a complex global organisation, the talent team wanted to showcase an effective yet easy to navigate solution.

Candidates participate in individual and group exercises plus one-to-one conversations. If needed, the one-to-one conversations can be carried out in-person. This part of the centre remains flexible given the uncertainty around future travel.

Since its June launch, Federica has received hugely positive feedback from her global community of colleagues, candidates and assessors. Candidates have fed back that they’ve found the experience deep both in terms of quality and personal development, yet simple in terms of access.

Feedback on the assessment centre

There has been an increase in interest in the solution from the company’s most senior leaders: “Our most senior leaders are curious about the methodology. At the beginning I could see there were doubts but then after a while we have seen perceptions change and we have a lot of interest in the solution across the business. Colleagues have enquired about rolling out similar technologies in their markets. It’s had a big impact”.

Going virtual was something that needed to be carefully managed with Generali stakeholders says Federica: “At first, some assessors felt that a digital solution might be less valid. They were concerned it could be more subjective and not detailed enough. But in reality, it’s helped to reduce bias.”

Generali was already a global business, comfortable with virtual experiences. But Federica says that bringing people on the journey was core to the project’s success: “Involving people in the process and connecting it with what we are doing as a company has helped with adoption. Plus, we have continued working with them to improve their experience – putting them at the centre, improving it, and adding new features based on feedback”.

Bringing everyone on the journey

“Through this project we had the opportunity to prove we can put the right people in the right places. We have already seen the value in the solution”.

Federica Bocciardi, Head Group Leadership Development, Generali

There is a strong belief at Generali that its leaders should be at the forefront of driving the business in a new direction. Through this project, the leadership and development team has translated the new company strategy into core talent development processes that will help new leaders take the business into the future.

You can listen again to this webinar by accessing the on demand recording here.

About Generali

Generali is a global insurance company with more than 72,000 employees across the world. Headquartered in Milan, Italy, the Generali Group is one of the most significant players in the global insurance and financial products market. Generali provides a range of insurance products including property, employee benefits and global assistance services.

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