Want to be a better actuarial manager? Here are 4 ways to support your team

Managing a team of actuaries can be difficult. You need the right balance of technical and soft skills to lead a team that’s productive, engaged and motivated.

In this blog, we’re going to cover four areas where you can better support your team and become a more effective leader.

1. Get comfortable asking for advice.

As an actuary, no matter how senior you are, you always ask for a peer review before submitting an important document to a client or regulator. The same is true for managing people.

When you're faced with a people management issue, you should always seek a second opinion before taking action. This could be from your own manager, a peer or your HR team. The bigger the potential consequences of your action, the more advice you should take.

If there’s someone on your team who’s not performing well, ask your manager how you could coach them differently. When you need to write a performance review, talk it through with someone else before delivering it.

You can tackle any people management issue by first asking for a second opinion. You’ll become a better actuarial manager as a result.

2. Tailor how you deliver feedback.

Giving feedback is a powerful tool that can help your team members reach their full potential. It’s also one of the hardest things to get right.

As an actuarial manager, you need to tailor how you provide feedback depending on who’s receiving it.  Some of your team members might prefer quick, straight-to-the point feedback, while others might respond more to a gradual, empathetic approach.

This is especially true when you need to give difficult feedback. The best approach is to let each individual choose how they want to receive it, for example, by saying “I've got some pretty critical feedback here. How would you like me to deliver this?”.

They will not only be empowered by the feedback itself, but also by the fact that they made the choice to receive it. This sense of ownership can make the difference between someone ignoring the negative feedback or using it as a source of motivation.

3. Encourage ownership and accountability.

Errors and mistakes happen in every actuarial team. Instead of blaming others when things go wrong, think about your own role in the situation. How have your actions (or inaction) played a role in the problems at hand?

Actuarial managers are judged on the performance of their team as a whole - not as individuals - and leading by example is the best way to build a team culture of accountability. Don’t criticise your team for making mistakes, instead ask how you can give them more support to prevent mistakes from happening.

Like the best sports coaches, you will need to tweak your approach in order to motivate each member of your team. Even if your management style has worked well in the past, don’t expect it to work with the person sat in front of you.

4. Celebrate your team’s successes.

Actuarial managers tend to focus on the task at hand. As soon as a big project is finished, it’s easy to shift your focus to the next task without pausing to celebrate what your team has achieved. Over time, failure to acknowledge success can make your team members feel under-valued, like a cog in a machine.

Celebrate your team’s successes and let them know when they’re performing well. You don’t need to throw a party. Little things can have a big impact on team morale and job satisfaction. It could be as simple as praising someone for their effort or sharing some positive feedback you received about your team’s recent work.

We hope these tips will help you support your team and create a positive work environment. That’s what being an effective manager is all about!