Skeptical that she needed more management training, Kyria discovered the value of change management training to improve relationships and communication with her team and colleagues.
Shortly after Kyria Ali started working for Nagico Insurances as the Chief Risk Officer, she realized that she was going to have to use her change management skills as a result of being a “newbie” and a young senior executive in a company that was almost as old as she was.
“I was the only woman on the senior executive team, and one of the youngest, so working with men who were used to doing things a particular way and being powerful at the same time took some getting used to,” recalls Kyria. “Not only from my side, but also on theirs.”
Kyria always considered herself a very driven person—driven to add value to as many people as possible and touch as many lives as possible. She worked hard to continually improve and drive value through personal development and education. So, when she learned that she was going to be participating in The Bullet Proof® Manager leadership development program, she was a bit skeptical.
“I’ve been a manager for many years,” Kyria explains. “Having worked hard, been involved in many projects, and learned many things through other training courses, you start to think you know it all.”
However, it did not take long for Kyria to realize that being reminded of the basics of management and the practical application of leadership skills was on a whole different level than what she had experienced before. “Education is one thing, living it and putting it into practice is a whole other thing.”
Change Management Training & Improving Communication
The Bullet Proof® Manager leadership development program helped Kyria understand herself, her peers, and her employees on a deeper level.
“Being with a new group took some getting used to. You come in and you want to set a tone, so to speak. Let people get to know you and appreciate what you bring to the table,” explains Kyria. “Change is different. It is something people resist. I came in and I showed what I had to offer, but unfortunately it was met with a bit of resistance.”
One of the biggest obstacles that managers and leaders face is resistance to change, particularly when we are new in a company that has not experienced much change in the past. People become comfortable with the status quo and they fear change. This fear often stems from a fear of failure. That is why part of our job as leaders in managing change is creating an open environment where people feel comfortable talking about their concerns, as well as a culture where failure is OK when working through innovation and change, as long as lessons are learned from it and mistakes are not repeated.
The change management training that Kyria received as part of her Bullet Proof® Manager program participation got her thinking about the obstacles she was currently facing.
“I realized that I had to stop and think: why was that happening? Was it me? Was it them? Was it all of us? What could I do?” Kyria recalls. “I recognized that I could only control my behaviors and actions. It sounds very basic, that we should all know, but sometimes it is the basics that we forget and we move too quickly by.”
Part of change management training is learning how to open those lines of communication with teams and peers in a way that reduces resistance and breaks down barriers. During one of their leadership development sessions, the Nagico team was able to work together to learn more about how their personality styles affect how they communicate and work with one another. They were able to start building a better foundation for a collaborative team environment by understanding how others might react to changes or different communication styles.
“The Bullet Proof® Manager helped me sit back and look at all of them including myself, because we’re all part of it. I looked at myself, I looked at them and I could recognize where they might react to a certain way to something I say or do, and I recognize I can change my behavior in that way. Because the only way you can work well with each other is by actually understanding each other.”
Empowerment & Recognition
One of the things that Kyria wanted to change was how the junior employees were developed professionally. She saw a great opportunity to develop her leadership pipeline and influence their ability to produce greater value for the company by empowering them with opportunities for experiential growth. “In my position, I get to get involved and touch many people, and this works into my main passion which is to really add value and to help. It may not necessarily be quantifiable, but if I can improve my team’s quality of life and make them feel happier in what they do, that makes me feel happy. It makes me feel like I’m doing something with purpose.”
Kyria wanted to inspire her team to be better, feel confident, and innovate more. She started by spending the time to sit with each person on her team and clearly outline why they were important to her personally, to the department, and to the company as a whole.
She recalls, “That meant a lot to them. Appreciation goes a long way and sometimes we forget or we neglect to take the time out to do it, but it is a small thing that makes a big impact.”
Words only go so far. You have to be able to show your employees that they are valuable and that you appreciate their work by empowering them to take on new projects and responsibilities.
“I want them to see that my actions match my words,” says Kyria. “So I give them the opportunity to do new things. I give them the entire scope of a project or initiative, and then I tell them, ‘This is yours. Here is your objective. Go forth and get it done.’ And then I let them handle it.”
Doing this, Kyria empowered the people on her team, particularly her junior employees, to see themselves differently and to gain the confidence they needed to be successful. It completely changed the way they presented themselves at work and increased productivity. Her employees were happier and work and created a much-improved environment.
“When someone on the team is successful, we don’t keep it a secret. We share it with everyone in the company. People started to see those persons in a different light. Because sometimes you put persons in a box and if they don’t know they can climb out of that box, they stay within those four walls. I broke down those walls and I said, ‘You don’t need to live in here. You go forth. You create, I am here to guide you if you need me, but I trust you, you can do this, I believe in you.’ To me, that is what leadership is all about.”