Training Top 125 Best Practice: State Compensation Insurance Fund’s Emerging Leader Program
Established in 1914 by the California state legislature, State Compensation Insurance Fund (State Fund) is California’s largest provider of workers’ compensation insurance. Like many other state agencies, a large portion of State Fund’s workforce is eligible to retire now—and if you add in those employees who are eligible to retire in the next five years, the number hits 49.2 percent.
Recognizing this “silver tsunami” on the horizon, State Fund knew it needed to strengthen its leadership pipeline. In response, State Fund launched the Emerging Leader Program (ELP) in August 2015 with a cohort of 31. There have been five subsequent cohorts. Each cohort has approximately 20 to 24 participants with a mix of existing employees and employees new to State Fund hired as participants in the ELP. The rationale for the mix is to include employees who have the greatest potential and are looking for promotion, and to bring in new employees with new ideas who view things through a different lens.
The Emerging Leader Program is a two-year curriculum comprising a variety of assessments, workshops, and self-paced activities designed to help participants grow in terms of self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and leadership acumen in order to successfully engage and develop others.
Participants experience diverse perspectives and learn how the organization works as they participate in rotational assignments and job shadowing. They work alongside individual contributors and leaders in various programs throughout the organization to increase their organizational acumen, build cross-functional relationships, and develop awareness of potential career opportunities. They are charged to be leaders regardless of their position and exercise influence in everything they do.
Through mentorship, coaching, and a team action learning project, ELP participants develop their leadership competencies and the strategic perspective needed to succeed. Each participant is paired with a senior leader mentor, as well as an executive coach, who support them throughout the program by providing insight, career counseling, and guidance.
To date, three cohorts have graduated from the Emerging Leader Program, and 29 percent of the participants have been promoted into leadership roles. Feedback from the participants is that the experience is “life-changing” and “boosts confidence and improves the ability to adapt to various changing dynamics.”
The assessments and workshops improved their self-awareness and communication skills, and are helping them to succeed as they are promoted into leadership roles. In fact, 72 percent of the direct-report employees of the promoted ELP participants say their supervisors are better than other non-ELP supervisors in the areas of communication, providing feedback and coaching, supporting staff, building relationships, and organizational astuteness. This positive feedback is helping to drive the engagement of these employees, and making them more productive and happier in their jobs.
When State Fund asked managers who promoted ELP participants into leadership roles about the new leaders, 70 percent find them to be better prepared in the areas of organizational astuteness, communication, and coaching staff.