When AmeriHealth Administrators (AHA), an Independence Blue Cross company, embarked on a company-wide transformation initiative to prepare for changes in the health care insurance market, Key Leadership was called on to help with the people side of change.
Change is good
But change is also hard. AmeriHealth Administrators’ senior leadership knew how crucial change management and strong leadership would be to the transformation. And they knew Paulette had a proven track record driving leadership development, executive coaching, and change initiatives with the IBC family of companies. So Michele Schumacher, Director of HR Subsidiaries, and Curtis Mischler, Enterprise Transformation Lead, worked with Paulette to design a program to engage associates and management in the change process.
Championing diversity for AHA
The cultural transformation was so successful IBC awarded Paulette its IBC Diversity Champion Award for 2013.
“We recognize Paulette Gabriel and applaud Key Leadership for helping AHA develop the foundation so the AHA team can truly accomplish the LEAP! Imperative: to lead, excel, adapt, and perform—and to achieve remarkable results,” says Curtis Mischler, Enterprise Transformation Lead.
Propelling AHA into a new era of health care
The goal of the program—called LEAP!—was to transform the organization from a third party administrator to a benefits value manager. This was a brand new business model, positioning the company to capitalize on the growth opportunities the changing healthcare landscape presented by exceeding customer expectations.
The key tenets of the program were to Lead, Excel, Adapt, and Perform. With Paulette’s expert guidance, IBC associates and management did exactly that. Paulette helped them to:
- Understand their strengths
- Recognize issues to be addressed
- Leverage their capabilities to move forward
- Develop skills that help them to lead others through the challenges of change and transformation
“Key Leadership exceeded our expectations by truly meeting them in critical areas where our strategic needs and people issues intersect,” says Michele Schumacher, Director of HR Subsidiaries. “With compassion support and strength, Paulette Gabriel engaged our management and associates in owning their learning experience, looking at leadership as a profession, and clarifying how they can be more effective. But Paulette doesn’t stop there! She also helps leaders to personally live what they learn and be the best leaders they can be.”
How leaders prepared for change at AHA
For leaders in many traditional companies, the change process and its impact is new turf. At the start, understanding the basics is important. It gives leaders and those going through changes a framework to better understand what dynamics are in play as the change proceeds. Understanding the stages of change and recognizing how individuals react differently to change, and at differing speeds, is critical to tuning in to what the right actions are.
In addition, gaining an overall understanding of what is front of mind for people—and, just as important, what their lingering fears and concerns are—helped structure the program, the process, leadership development, and the communications. Getting the pulse of the organization through large-scale focus groups was a critical step in framing up the change leadership program and in getting people in the same room to openly discuss their hopes and concerns. We often heard, “I didn’t know other people felt the way I did,” underscoring the need for moving people out of their comfort zones and siloes as the change proceeded.
We developed a full scale change leadership program for managers and directors to help them learn how to be more effective at planning, communicating, and executing on change initiatives. We also targeted key leaders as pivot points in identifying change issues that evolved as the change progressed.
Key to success at the front lines was developing “change champions” to support the enterprise transformation at an associate level across the organization. And, since change is often not welcome, we addressed how to meet and overcome resistance to change at all levels.