Developing leaders who drive results and lead through change
In 2014, Allstate Insurance Company of Canada set some lofty business goals for the next few years. To successfully achieve their objectives they would require a highly engaged workforce that was ready to drive change and innovation, and a management team prepared to lead their teams through the changes, while ensuring organizational goals were accomplished. The need to sustain and increase their employee engagement and retention would be a critical factor to their success.
“Our overall management effectiveness was high, but we felt, based on our employee surveys, there were still areas we could improve on,” stated Kerri Dobszewicz, Senior Learning Consultant at Allstate Canada. “We knew we would need leaders who could have tough performance conversations, while at the same time provide support to their teams during the changes and challenges that would arise.”
Leveraging the Science of Emotional Intelligence to Build Great Leaders
In order to provide their management team with the leadership skills and tools required to meet the upcoming challenges, Allstate Canada decided to implement the Science of Emotional Intelligence training and EI360 assessment program from the Institute for Health and Human Potential (IHHP).
“We already had Dr. J.P. Pawliw-Fry of IHHP as a keynote speaker at our annual management conference in 2012,” said Kerri, “and it was clear to the people leaders at that session that IHHP’s Emotional Intelligence programs would have a positive impact on their ability to drive results, increase engagement and manage change. What impressed all of them was the research and brain science foundation of IHHP’s programs. We have a lot of analytical thinkers and IHHP brought credibility to the topic of Emotional Intelligence.”
The Case for Certification
In April of 2014, Kerri attended IHHP’s four-day Science of Emotional Intelligence certification program. According to Kerri, “We wanted to become certified to deliver the training through an internal facilitator so we could ensure it was delivered in our language, with our context, making it even more relevant to Allstate managers by tying in our survey results and specific business challenges.” Kerri added, “There was also cost savings to having an internal trainer. IHHP’s facilitators are fantastic, but we could reach more people with the same budget by becoming certified to deliver the program ourselves.”
Where Allstate did leverage the IHHP facilitators was when the program was delivered to their Leadership Team. “To provide our Leadership Team with the most value possible, we felt it was important to utilize the years of experience and learnings of the IHHP facilitators, providing additional external insight to our LT, as they discussed the difficulties they were facing,” explained Kerri.
“For the rest of the management group, the first step was to facilitate a pilot session to familiarize ourselves with the material and the EI360 assessments. From there, we rolled out the program with our Directors because we wanted them modeling the behaviors we expected from everyone else and demonstrating their commitment to developing themselves. The feedback from the senior leaders was extremely positive.” According to Kerri, “The first reaction from the managers was ‘how am I going to find two days?’ Then when they saw the EI360 assessment they would say ‘I don’t know if I have time for that’.” Kerri adds, “Our response was that it’s an investment in yourself. Our Directors went through the same process and support you investing that time, and the EI360 assessment is a relatively simple process.”
Creating a Powerful Learning Experience
“Once managers are in the class the response is phenomenal. They are impressed at how practical and interactive the training is and how many activities and strategies there are that focus on application. Emotional Intelligence also resonates with people because it doesn’t just apply to work. I hear so many stories of how people are applying it in their personal life.” And after taking the class, Kerri states, “Nobody says ‘it should have been one-day’, they understand the value in the full two days.”
Kerri also wanted to ensure there was sustainment for the training, so in addition to what IHHP offers, she sent an e-mail to the manager of each participant that explains how they can coach them and incorporate the learning into a developmental plan for that employee. “Kerri has done some leading edge things with sustainment,” says an impressed Bill Benjamin, Partner at IHHP, “some of which we will be incorporating into an upgrade of our sustainment solution.”
The Business Impact of the Investment
After rolling out the Science of Emotional Intelligence training and EI360 assessment to 158 leaders and managers, Kerri believes, “It’s completely worth the investment. It’s not your typical business program and yet it has the greatest potential for impact on anything a person will do in the organization. If you can strengthen your relationships and how you show up as leader, the business results will come.”
One of the biggest impacts Allstate Canada has seen from the training is with their Agency managers, who manage teams of agents in local insurance agencies. According to Kerri, “This was the audience I was expecting would find it the most challenging to integrate the training, but they have actually applied it the most! They’ve been using the EI strategies in their meetings with agents, to problem solve, to deal with issues, and in leading their teams. They are the group that comes back and says ‘can you provide this for my agents’.”
Since the training began in 2014, Allstate has been able to maintain, and in some areas increase, their employee engagement and retention scores and are on track to meet the business goals they set out to achieve. Allstate Canada has also been ranked as one of Canada’s Top 50 Employers in the AON-Hewitt survey four years in a row.
On a personal note Kerri explains, “The Emotional Intelligence training has been one of the most satisfying and impactful things I have done in my career. The learning resonates for me and has made a difference in my life. It’s fun and exciting to bring it to people and watch it resonate with them. This training really gets at the heart of who people are, why they behave the way they do, and how they can perform and live up to their potential.”