Fortune 500 Company Engaging With New Conversations

From HR to Coaching, a major insurance company launches a brand new team for connection and engagement. 

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to present my new book The Conversationalist to group of 28 Birkman consultants in training for their certification. The book is about engaging in meaningful conversations and will be published in September. Sharon Birkman Fink, the CEO, was very kind in her endorsements.  Her comments opened the doors for further discussion after my talk at their reception.  Birkman has an amazing team of 5000+ consultants. I’m amazed at the diversity and depth with this community of associates. I had the opportunity to get to know a few of the consultants attending the training from around the country. 

One team of four colleagues was from a Fortune 500 insurance company. They collectively averaged almost 20 years of serving in Human Resources. They have obviously seen significant changes within the organization and among their people of that period of time. Their leader, a veteran of 29 years with the company, has a renewed sense of excitement as they are launching a new effort for HR. She has taken the lead in launching a new coaching initiative within organization that is gaining momentum. 

The team represented the best of HR. All had been personally selected for this new initiative. Yet, all were uniquely gifted to serve from their strengths and experience. They moved to a quiet corner during the reception and invited me to join them as they shared their excitement and talked about the challenges of the coaching launch. There were many questions that came to them as they thought through implementation. Some of the key questions were:

  • Do we match Birkman styles with those we are coaching or do we need to view people from a different perspective?
  • How do we solve the constant internal conflict of managers who are in roles for which they are not prepared or simply don’t have the personality for it?
  • How would you integrate the Birkman within our coaching team? 

After listening to questions, the discussion, and challenges they were to hoping to address I heard 3 themes. 

  1. Gaining Trust - Skepticism is a challenge to overcome in a high stress organization. People in HR often are viewed as more restrictive than empowering.  Introducing another new program and tool may not gain support or be carried out. What keeps this initiative from being the latest programme du jour?
  2. Realigning Team Members - Call Center Challenges. The nature of the work has its ongoing stress, let alone putting people in management positions for which they're not ready, creating additional tension. Determining when team members are not ready or not a fit needs to be high priority. The resulting attrition, low morale, and a disengaged culture only brings low performance.
  3. Going Deeper for Real Change - Solving a problem with a program and policy is one approach. The coaching team wants to get personally connected to key managers to be in a position to impact their attitudes and actions. Whether they are reassigned or resourced they want to develop their people and help improve the overall culture, performance, and engagement within the company. 

The following is a potential 12 Step Weekly Engagement Strategy for a 90 Day Organizational Coaching Pilot using the Birkman 

  1. Review the "How to Talk with Them" worksheet to learn their style. Determine their preferred style of Direct, Indirect, Task, or People (Unless you “read” people very well, we must be students of our colleagues by learning how to approach them. Our style may be very different than theirs.) 
  2. Start with Strengths and Interests
  3. Clarify Career Alignment for Roles and Responsibilities 
  4. Discover High Need and Stress Responses 
  5. Identify Conflict with Team Members and Constructive Pathway Toward Respect 
  6. Create of Growth Plan for Leveraging Strength on the Team, Greater Self Care, and Mitigating Stress Points 
  7. Create a Communication Strategy for weekly Actionable Reminders Personalize to the Managers 
  8. Train the Managers Towards a Coaching Mindset within their Team 
  9. Transition the Disengaged to Positions Better Designed for Profile 
  10. Begin with the Birkman for all new Team Members and Communicate the Culture and Coaching Mindsets within the Onboarding
  11. Measure and Celebrate the Growth and Engagement within your Organization and Culture 
  12. Reevaluate and Adjust for the Next 90 Days Using Real Stories of Change from the Pilot 

These 12 steps represent an approach and a investment that will yield a return of engagement. The new coaching team will have to contextualize these 12 steps for their organization.

What If?

  • What would happen if every leader made a commitment to be this intentional about developing their people and teams?
  • What would be the impact?
  • What’s the impact if you don’t?

If you'd like to discuss creating an engagement strategy for your team let's start a conversation today. Contact