Allied Insurance cuts negotiations skills program in half with A.L.

Mary Busch and seven teammates at Allied Insurance Company in Des Moines followed the 'learning is creation, not consumption' rule to reduce a negotiations training class for claims processors from two days to one with better results.

The two-day class (from a well-known vendor) was very conventional in that it was heavy on the materials and presentations side: a thick 3-ring binder student workbook, five hours of videos, and the like.

First they threw away the 3-ring binder and replaced it with a thin 6'x6' student guide with simple, bulleted points.

Next they scrapped the five hours of videos that were generic and had nothing to do with claims processing to begin with. They replaced these with a 15-minute video that they produced themselves with the help of their media department. In a 'man-on-the-street' format, trainers roamed through their office doing brief, on-the-spot interviews with seasoned employees asking them to give their best advice on how to negotiate with claimants, lawyers, and policy holders to assure a win-win result.

Learners got more from watching this fifteen-minute video than they did from the five hours of the old video because it was homemade–and therefore relevant to their specific job challenges.

Using the core concepts of 'Getting to Yes', the day was divided into seven segments, each segment starting with a 5-minute lecture on a concept, followed by hands-on practice of that concept for 30 minutes or more.

The day was kept light by a card-playing theme inspired by the Kenny Rogers song, 'Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em'. Big poker cards from a party store adorned the walls.

And the video interviews were interspersed with shots of people playing cards. The video ended as one of the players, holding the Allied Negotiation Skills Card, was shown happily winning the day.

The one-day training, based solidly on learner activities, proved to be more fun, less time consuming, and far more effective, says Mary, than the two-day course centered on materials and presentations.