The Power of Effective Collaboration and Groups Within a Matrix Structure in a Global Insurance Company


The client is a large Global Insurance Company based in Europe with executive offices in several other locations including the United States. It specialises in Property and Casualty insurance and reinsurance and serves clients that range from large corporations to specialised businesses across more than 200 countries.

The focus for the organisation lies in serving clients with collaboration and ingenuity, providing smart answers to complex risks. The strong client focus means that it relies on its people to provide the drive and knowledge to deliver the highest standards of service. Both internal and external trust are a cornerstone of ongoing performance.

The Engagement Environment

A little over 18 months ago, the client acquired another large global insurance company, increasing its size and footprint substantially. The new consolidated Insurance Leadership Team (ILT) brought together leaders from both organisations into a new “federated matrix structure” The Chair of the team instigated a program with CGA Management to support the ILT during the emergent changes demanded of the teams to align with the new structure.  Involvement in the programme was voluntary, attracting leaders and their groups who were keen to fast track their progress towards high performance.

Overall ten (10) members of the ILT, from different geographical and functional areas of the organisation chose to engage with CGA during the process. The objective of the participating ILT members was tofast-trackk the development of their groups and teams to reduce employee uncertainty so that they could:

  • Keep focused on achieving ambitious business objectives
  • Lead by example
  • Actively shape the emerging new organisational culture

The Challenge

During the organisational transition, employees wanted to feel a greater sense of certainty, both in terms of understanding their place within the organisation, but also of how things get done within the new organisational structure. Whilst the merging organisations had agreed that they shared similar cultural aims, the newly formulated federated matrix structure demanded greater collaboration, both virtual and multi-cultural, and more developed multi-functional working than either organisation had experienced before.

The Solution

The objective of working with CGA Management and Christina was to fast-track the teams and groups to a higher level of performance, using a mix of appropriate support and interventions.  This notion, supported by academic and practitioner evidence, would enable the teams to accelerate the benefits received, as opposed to if the developmental process had simply been left to chance, time or trial and error.

After discussions with the members of the ILT team involved, key stakeholders and critical HR Business Partners, Christina developed a programme that met the following design requirements:

  • Create an understanding of the team’s strengths and challenges and actionable points on which to make progress
  • Give a framework and common language to chart progress of group and team development
  • Provide deeper understanding of how to operate effectively within the Federated Matrix Structure
  • Ensure suitability for multi-cultural and virtual work environments
  • Deliver maximum value with minimal impact on participants’ schedules
  • Be flexible enough to meet the differing demands of each of the groups
  • Help the participants feel supported and empowered
  • Provided individual, team, group and organisational levels of analysis.

The vehicle for delivering these requirements included a range of diagnostic tools and workshops.

The Results

Overall participants reported that they experienced powerful results in three main areas:

  1. Gaining insight into their own strengths and challenges both as an individual and as a collaborator within a matrix structure.
  2. Understanding of the facets that describe the current level of effectiveness in a group or team
  3. The mix of team roles and competencies that contribute to delivering high performance

When asked to rank the results of the program across key parameters, individuals noticed they felt more patient when working with different people, more hopeful that their peers would be able to work more collaboratively with them and that they had greater feeling of confidence on what action to take in order to become more effective.

Specific results from the engagement indicated that:

  • 92% reported that the programme as a good/excellent use of time and resources
  • 92% reported that the programme provided insight into their personal strengths and areas of challenge as a collaborator in different Teams and Groups.
  • 96% reported that the programme had helped them understand how to improve group/team performance
  • 96% reported that the programme helped identify group/team strengths and areas of challenge
  • 88% reported that the programme helped clarify the key themes that will assist the organisation in becoming more capable
  • 88% reported that the programme had given them confidence to take action

Leadership Comments

The leaders shared the following advice for others considering using this service:

‘it is an excellent tool to start the process of embedding teams that are new to each other to help create better understanding, break down initial barriers and create a directional improvement in interactions’

 ‘Do it, it’s is an eye-opener and very valuable for teams working under “urgency”-mode’

‘Very worthwhile but invest time and be open to receive the results/feedback’

‘I think it adds clarity to items many people may already be thinking but have not verbalized or do not know are common throughout the company.’