Contemporary and General Managerial Issues
A Supervisor and Team Development Programme


In this writing, a supervisor and team development program for Brilliant Life Insurance will be presented. The supervisor and team development program will be planned and formulated for Call-Centre of the company in UK and China. The reason is that up to date, there is no satisfactory and effective training and development program being implemented to enhance the skill sets and competencies of supervisory staff in the company. Thus, it is critical for the company to formulate a proper training and development program to enable the supervisor to be able to coordinate group development activities as well as to manage the work across countries with distinctively different culture.

Background of the Company

Brilliant Life Insurance is one of the leading and largest insurance companies with operations in UK, US and China. The company is established in 1885, and it headquarter is located in London, UK. Currently, the company main business is focus mainly on the insurance industry, and also has some business units covering the banking and investment business for the company. The company has more than 700 million of customers around the globe. Not only that, the company is also having approximately more than GBP 120 million in assets under management from the investment division.

Defining the Objectives of the Development Program

Training and development of employees is critical and important for the success of any organization in the new knowledge economy era (Budhwar, 2004). This is not surprising because the competency level of the employees and the management in any organization has deterministic effects on the performance and financial achievement of the particular organization in the very challenging business environment.

To define the objectives of a training and development program for any organization require deep understanding on the organization needs in the marketplace. Before the specific training and development objectives can be formulated, several crucial analyses should be performed (Budhwar, 2004). Firstly, the organizational analysis should be carried out to investigate the firm’s strategic mission, vision and strategies, so that the relevant materials used in training and development of staffs can be used. Secondly, task analysis should also be carried out to investigate the specific tasks that are required to achieve the firm’s overall objectives. Training should be then focus on areas that can contribute to the execution of job by the employees. Lastly, individual analysis should be performed as well. Two questions are useful to perform such kind of analyses. Firstly, it is important to ask if who need to be trained. Then, the question of what kind of specific knowledge, skill sets and abilities should be trained must also be answered (Schermerhon et. al., 1991).

Considering all of the issues raised above, it is then reasonable to form an outward development training program for the supervisors. Generally, the main theme of the training and development program is to strengthen group development activities and to coordinate work across countries. Four specific objectives can be formulated to achieve the desired outcome stated above. Firstly, the development program should be able to enhance understanding of team members between each other (particularly between the staffs from different Call Centre, one in UK and another in China). The second objective of the development program is to enhance the relationships between the team members so that people can trust each other when working in a team. This is to enhance the cooperation level of team members, which is the third objective. Lastly, the development program is to enable the team members to share responsibilities for any decision being taken.

Elements of the Training and Development Scheme

In order to achieve the stated objectives for the team development program, many subjects should be covered. As the training is meant to enhance the supervisory skills of the different call centers in UK and China, the subject such as roles of an effective manager should be included in the training program. By teaching the various roles of an effective manager, supervisors can obtain general guidance on how to be an effective manager for their respective team. Secondly, the subject regarding team work should also be included. The reason is that it is one of the objectives of the training scheme to enhance team work in the organization. Thirdly, the topic related to communication must also be taught. This is because, effectively, the operators working in the various call centers are in the communication business, where they are hired to communicate effectively and nicely to the customers. Apart from that, communication is also very important, considering the objective of the training scheme is to develop team work and mutual understanding between the team members. Lastly, another subject to be taught should include the different cultural setting between the different subsidiaries of the organization, particular between the subsidiaries in UK and China. In the following section, the details on four of these subjects to be included in the training scheme will be discusses. The theoretical issues related to the subjects will firstly be presented, and the sub-topics on each of the subjects to be delivered in the training and development scheme will then be outlined.

Subject #1: The Roles of an Effective Manager

It is widely argued by researchers that firm today are facing tremendous changes in the market environment, and this is causing them to re-think how to manage people differently. Due to the fast changes occurring in the external environment, the manager in the new era should be equipped with different skills and play different roles. The skills, competencies and the roles played by managers and supervisors will have defining impacts to the organization performance (Mintzberg, 1973).

Generally speaking, management is often defined as the activities of planning, organizing, directing and controlling the work flow and process in a particular organization, to achieve a specific set of organizational objectives or goals (Cameron, 1992). Thus, it is critical that the supervisor in Brilliant Life Insurance to understand the roles they are playing and how their capabilities can affect the performance of the company. Besides, it is crucial for them to aware that as a manager or supervisor in the team, they are burden with various different roles. Without such understanding, they may not be aware that how they manage the workforce has great impacts to the team performance. Not only that, if the supervisors do not fulfill the various roles required as a leader in the team, it is impossible to shape an effective team to cope with the complex working environment (Budhwar, 2004).

As such, the elements or topics to be included in this training module, under this subject should comprises of the following: (a) the nature and purpose of management, (b) the management leadership process, (c) the various roles of a manager (i.e., including the interpersonal, informational and decisional roles), and (d) the skills required to fulfill the roles and responsibilities of being a manager (Mintzberg, 1973).

Subject #2: Team Working

There are various theories on team work because the topic is highly important in managing an organization to obtain real results in the marketplace. The team work, either functional or dysfunctional, can have direct impact to the bottom line of a firm. Often, such a team is also called a work group (Schermerhon et. al., 1991). In today complicated business environment, almost all important tasks are handled with a group or team of workforce. This is not surprising as there are many benefits to be enjoyed from the team work process. However, the associated limitations with team working should not be ignored by the manager as well (Cameron, 1992).

Such an element is important to be included in the training scheme provided to the supervisors because it is important to reflect the supervisors’ roles and responsibilities in the work teams. As a supervisor, he should be equipped with knowledge on how to manage a work group, leading a team of employees, and to form strategies and techniques to enhance the team effectiveness to yield excellent performance in any tasks assigned by the senior management. This is only possible when the supervisor understand if he understands how individuals may interact and cooperate in a team or during a meeting (Dessler, 2010).

As such, the elements that should be included in the training scheme under the subject of team working are: (a) the relevant advantages and disadvantages of group working, (b) methods to improve group/team development, (c) the Belbin’s team roles model, (d) ways to build an effective team, (e) how to be an effective team members, and (f) how to conduct proper and effective meetings and team briefings. All of these are the basic knowledge and the fundamentals for a supervisor to form an effective and high performing team.

Subject #3: Communication

Communication is one of the ‘must’ learned management and interpersonal skills in workplace. This is because, often, it is effective communication that enables an organization to obtain real results in the real world. By proper communication, misunderstanding can be avoided (Dessler, 2010). In fact, effective marketing strategies are forms of effective communication strategies. In the context of management in an organization or in a particular team, effective communication can means the communication between the workforce, be it management or employees are effective, proper, accurate, and motivating. It is through communication that most of the management jobs are done, performed and completed (Fisher, 1983; Haney, 1974).

Thus, the elements that should be taught to the supervisor development program must include the following topics: (a) effective communication skills, (b) barriers to effective communication, (c) the proper communication strategies with workforce to yield results in workplace, (d) inspiring and motivating the workforce and (e) communication with people from different culture, background and upbringing.

It is worth to mention that it is highly important for the employees in the firm to understand how to communicate effectively with other team members, especially with the workforce from other countries. It cannot be denied that the workforce in UK and China may have significant differences in terms of cultural and social practices and beliefs. Thus, the know-how on how to communicate properly is critical so that cultural clashes and disputes due to differences in cultural and social practices can be avoided. This leads to the next elements to be taught in the supervisor training and development scheme.

Subject #4: Cultural Settings in Business

It is critical for multinational companies such as Brilliant Life Insurance to manage across culture in different countries. This is particularly important for Brilliant Life Insurance, because the company has operations in different countries around the world. The two call centers, located both in China and UK, are employing people with diverse background and distinctive cultural settings. The matters are more complicated when we consider the existing organization culture prevalent in the organization. Thus, an understanding on the different culture and how to cope with and to manage a diverse workforce, while at the similar time shaping the employees behaviors towards adoption of organizational culture can be important.

Generally, it is widely adopted such a definition for organizational culture from business textbook: “A pattern of basic assumptions invented, discovered or developed by a given group as it learns to cope with its problems or external adaptation and internal integration-that has worked well enough in the past to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems (direct quoted of Schein, 1985) (Schermerhon et. al., 1991; Dessler, 2010).” Such basic assumptions are highly influential on how people perceive and conduct activities – and as people rarely questions the accuracy of their personal assumptions (Dessler, 2010), they tend to view the world from their standpoint only. In the context of formulating a supervisor and team development program as well as to coordinate work between call centers, the supervisors or management should be provided sufficient education on the subject.

Thus, it is proposed that the various sub-topics under the subject of cultural settings in organization must include: (a) definition and formation of culture, (b) importance of culture to any organization, (c) the culture of China, UK and US, (d) managing workforce diversity, (e) managing change (particularly on how to change the employees behaviors to the adoption of company culture), (f) maximizing the benefits due to diversity while minimizing the weaknesses, and (g) basic introduction to English and Chinese language.

A Critical Evaluation of the Training Scheme

As it is shown above, the training and development scheme is mainly on educating the supervisors and workforce on working in a team more effectively as well as to enable the supervisors to conduct and coordinate work across countries. Most of the materials are being taught to the supervisors (in a classroom setting), but there are relatively few events being organized to ensure that the supervisors are able to practice such knowledge properly in the organization. Besides, there may be great differences between theories and practices, whereby responsive and adaptability to changes in environment may be required to manage the workforce for results. Thus, the supervisors are required to be proactive and alert enough to sense such changes. It is critical for them to understand that the materials delivered or taught to them is not perfect and serve at best only as a guideline.

Apart from that, the development scheme can be further improved, as under the context of managing for real results, there are many areas too important to be ignored, but are not included in the development scheme due to shortage of resources and time. Perhaps, different materials such as change management, customers’ services, and motivational courses can be introduced in the future.


Training is very critical elements in development of human capital in any organization. It is only when the human talents are capable and hardworking in a firm; the firm can yield high performance and success in today turbulent market environment. To manage for real results, it is too important not to ignore the nurturing of human resources in any organization. Ultimately, human is the only resources putting all the necessary ingredients together in an organization for achievement and profitability.


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