• “The greatest leaders are those that have had opportunities to practice leadership.”

    I’m not sure where I heard this quote originally, but it is one that has stuck with me. I have received opportunities within my career to lead, and ultimately these opportunities have allowed me to continue to grow and advance as a leader within my organization. I’ve been able to adopt my own leadership style which I’m positive will continue to evolve over time as I gain experience.

     

    Leading by example has been my preferred method of leadership to date. Let’s take a step back- 6 years ago I remember my first day at PHS as a 23 year old with no healthcare experience whatsoever. This was the first opportunity I received- my current EVP took a chance on me. I left my final interview ecstatic feeling confident I would receive the job, but left work on the first day overwhelmed by the acronyms, the state regulations, just everything really. I was certain I had made a mistake.

     

    I vividly remember calling my mom in tears and she gave me some “tough love” advice, which I decided to follow. “Sounds like you have a lot to learn” So that is what I did. For the first year I put my head down and learned everything I could. My Director challenged me by allowing me to lead a handful of small projects. Some of these projects were not successful, but the knowledge I gained was invaluable.

     

    I was offered a supervisor role right before my first annual review. A year in I was by no means a seasoned leader, but I was willing and excited to step up to the plate. I experienced many challenges as a young leader and setting the example helped me to validate my position. Had others on the team been with the organization longer? Yes. Were others older than I was? Yes. We have no control over these things, but what I could control was my productivity, my attitude and my willingness to do the job beyond standard expectations.

     

    Leading by example has allowed me to gain trust from my team and others. If you want to continue to grow within an organization and our industry I would highly suggest being intentional in your growth. Step out of your comfort zone by inviting leaders from all steps of life, not just work, to lunch (or virtual meetings these days). Ask them questions; learn how to continuously improve your active listening skills.

     

    Some other things that in my opinion have helped me continuously grow as a leader include being transparent no matter how uncomfortable or awkward that can be and inviting others into decisions. Listening and considering the thoughts of others regarding a decision goes a long way. Take chances on those who deserve opportunities when you can. Loyalty and respect from employees is important in my department, as I am sure it is in yours. When you provide opportunity, you build loyalty. When you believe in your employees, you gain their respect.

     

    Fast forward a few years and I am now the Director of that same department I started in and I don’t intend to settle here. Continuing to improve as a leader and challenging myself to grow and learn is something I value much more than promotions. In my experience, those will happen along the way if you set the tone to be the best leader you can be on a daily basis.

     

    By: Haily Roche, Director of Network Development, Prime Health Services

    The Moments that Shape Us – The World Comes to You

    We can observe a handful of our choices, experiences, or particular days that ultimately carve out the path of our lives. When observing closely we can see the patterns of how those moments and choices were profoundly influential in how the world comes to us.  The day I married my husband and left the restaurant business.  The day my father died, I started my yoga practice, and my first Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation event are flashes of magic of ways the world came to me.  It will likely not come to you in a neat package or when you’re expecting it but, you have to open enough to let it in, so you don’t miss it.

    It was Tuesday, December 5, 2017, the first year I was attending the National Work Comp and Disability Conference in Las Vegas.  The Alliance was having their pre-conference networking event at the Mandalay Bay and Margaret Spence was the keynote speaker.  When I joined the attendees, the room was absolutely bursting with energy.  Beautiful spirits connecting and encouraged to learn about who each other was. This was where I needed to be.

    As Margaret took us on a journey through her book, Leadership Self-Transformation, I thought she was reading my mind.   I was only in the workers’ compensation industry for two years and literally in the throes of transforming myself and building my position at Workfinders USA with Bill Tucker. I had to meet Margaret and tell her how I connected with her message. As we chatted, we learned of our mutual passion for supporting injured workers through the return-to-work process and have been collaborating to advance the mission ever since.

    The world comes to you, then you have to run with it.  My position had evolved to include a fair amount of travel and it seemed like everywhere I was going The Alliance was having an event or a new chapter was starting. The events are always highly inspirational and energizing to me.  What keeps my coming back is the level of authenticity.   The ability for all to be our real selves safely learning and growing.  I’m privileged to have participated in 10 of these sensational gatherings and the fellowship is real.   Crushing my fears, sharpening resilience, financial acumen, and navigating change. I drew upon all of our collaborations in 2020 navigating the unknown this year holds.

    We all arrive at moments that are too deep, or things begin to unravel. We’re experiencing this on a cultural level now.  We can’t keep doing what we’re doing but what else can we do? The insights that come out of these challenging times, how do we put them into action? These are the ones that affect real change in ourselves and our community.  Look closely at the people around you, the beauty around this chaos, it’s the magic of the world coming to you.

    Blog by: Natalie Torres, Senior Director of Client Solutions, Work Finders USA

    What Women Want – 5 Negotiation Tips

    An article released by Harvard Law School in July of this year mentioned that one of the contributing factors to the gender earnings gap is a gender gap in negotiation skills. This study discusses women’s challenges with negotiating and demonstrates how finding confidence in negotiations can be harder for women than it is for their male counterparts.  Negotiations can make women nervous and lead them to doubt themselves or their knowledge.

    As women, it is critical that we continue to hone our ability to negotiate in all aspects of life. This includes negotiating for a salary raise, a promotion, or even things in your personal life such as buying a house, a car or negotiating bedtime with our children. We’ve put together five tips to help you be more prepared for any kind of negotiation.

    1. Negotiate as hard for yourself as you would for others

    As women, we tend to push hard and negotiate more for other than we do for ourselves. We may feel guilty or undeserving of praise or a pay increase, and we tend to put the spotlight on someone else. We may advocate harder for promotions or salary increases for our team members. As mothers, we’ll do whatever it takes for our children, but we might not be that proactive or assertive for ourselves.

    In a study,Linda Babcock asked men and women- MBA graduates- if they negotiated their job offers. Of those interviewed, 7% of women negotiated compared to 57% of men. We must take that step to go to bat for ourselves if we want to push to close the earnings gap.

    In order to successfully negotiate, you need to be your own advocate. For salary negotiations, it may feel uncomfortable at first, but no one can speak better to your achievements than you. Make sure you have your accomplishments prepared to support why you deserve higher compensation, or what value you bring to the team.

    1. Do your research

    This may be the most critical tip for salary negotiation. Before going into a negotiation, understand what the market indicates that job role is worth. Don’t start too high with your salary demands; you want to be realistic such that employers want to negotiate and continue discussions. But, if possible, you will want to start higher than where you want to land. Ideally, there is room for one or two conversations to get to where you are comfortable.

    Websites such as Glassdoor.com and Salary.com can help you identify what the role you are interviewing for or looking to be promoted to is worth. Having an upper and lower limit set before you enter the negotiation will help you understand where to start, where you want to be, and where you are willing to walk away.

    For other kinds of negotiation including for homes or cars, be sure to know the market value. Again, know your upper and lower limit, and do you research ahead of time.

    1. Know what is negotiable

    Sometimes in organizations, salaries might be stricter. There may not be flexibility in budget as well as other limitations. In these cases, you can always negotiate other items.

    Benefits like more Paid Time Off days, equity in the company, a larger bonus based on performance, flexible hours, or career growth opportunities are sometimes on the table. These benefits may have a large value for you that you can negotiate above and beyond a dollar amount.

    You can negotiate the interest rate on a car when purchasing, or a better mortgage rate as well. All of these items may not be an exact dollar amount on the price but will save you money in the long run if you can negotiate them down.

    1. Be confident

    When going into a negotiation, an important thing to remember is to be confident in your skills and know your value. Get comfortable with asking for more. An employer may even respect you more for your confidence and for knowing what you are worth. Don’t sit back and expect them to recognize your success. Tell them why you deserve a promotion, the position with extra compensation, or a raise, and what you have contributed and will continue to contribute to drive further successes.

    In the case of new job offers, often employers expect negotiations. They may even set aside extra budget specifically because they expect to increase the compensation package through candidate negotiations. If you don’t negotiate, you could be leaving that money on the table.

    1. Be prepared for the “no” and don’t be deterred by it

    We’ve all heard the saying “the worst they can say is no, right?” If you’ve followed all the steps above, but the timing is not right or if there’s no budget or resources, you may still get a no. Don’t let that deter you. Just because it’s not a yes today doesn’t mean it won’t be in six months.

    By setting the expectation to revisit the negotiation in the future, you can reopen the conversation. You can express that you understand what the organization’s needs are, but you would like the opportunity to show them in the next six months that the benefits you will bring to the table will exceed the additional cost, or resource.

    Look at it as an opportunity to revisit and continue to advocate for yourself rather than seeing it as an ineffective negotiation or as a failure.

    As women, if we want to close the gender pay gap, we need to start advocating harder for ourselves and be sure we’re not leaving money on the table for someone else to claim. Steps like doing our research and coming up with alternatives to strictly salary demands or pay increases can help us bolster our confidence and become more successful in our negotiations.

    Nicole Sauk – CFO, Ametros

    “How are You?”

    Are you frustrated? Overwhelmed? Hopeful? Are you becoming impatient? Engaged? Happy?

    2020 came in like Fire that surrounded all of us, and unfortunately suffocating some of us. We had no idea how it would change us, individually or collectively. It seems we’re all still waiting for things to go back to some sort of normalcy, but how do we get there without taking care of ourselves and each other? What will it take to keep us moving forward long term?

    Challenging times lend us the opportunity to grow, and affect positive change in our homes, workplaces, and communities. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and there’s a lesson in what happens to you, for you, through you, or even against you. In our efforts to remain positive we must actively choose and decide to find the good daily. It doesn’t mean that we ignore reality or bury our heads in the sand. However, it does require honesty, openness, and communication.

    Communication is key as we work together to achieve better in our professional lives, and personal lives. How we communicate is essential, and when communicating active listening is required to ensure everyone is included. We are not islands to ourselves, and we truly need each other now more than ever. Over the past couple of months, I’ve been determined to lean in even more to connect with my employees, colleagues, clients, and the same with family and friends to simply ask, “How are You?’. Remembering that focusing on mental health is extremely important as we continue to focus on our physical health, especially now.

    We must remember to remain our Best, even in the worst of times. Being our Best demands discipline, and discipline allows us to face difficult situations with dignity and respect. Facing uncertain times isn’t always easy, but it allows us to stretch in our purpose as we move to next levels on our journeys.

    We have witnessed many levels of pain and loss, and my heart breaks for anyone suffering in any capacity at any time. Moreover, it can be quite a task in trying to manage so many emotions and still show up as a brave person to those that depend on you. However, we must decide everyday (sometimes several times during the day) to be a part of the solution, not the problem on any level.

    Let’s remember that everyone is dealing with something, and this was true even before the pandemic. People are having to make decisions that are truly life changing but extending grace to one another shows true bravery. Each day is a Blessing that I refuse to take for granted, and most of us are currently still Blessed beyond measure. As we remain positive and choose to look for the good let’s embrace each other. Let’s keep doing the right thing even when it’s hard, remembering the impossible becomes possible when we all work together.

    I’ll ask again, “How are You?” lets keep asking and really listening so we can help when we can.

    There are so many Blessings in the process, be encouraged!

    Blog by: Tracey Reid, Atlanta Chapter Ambassador, Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation

    Leadership is a Continuous Cycle of Growth

    Leadership is complicated. I grew up the second oldest in a large, latch-key family. Leadership was thrust upon me as a practical matter. It was a way to bring organization and structure to the chaos of what would now be termed a “free range” upbringing. As I grew, those leadership traits served me well; captaining sports teams, editing school papers. When I started working, I found myself moving into leadership naturally, even though the payoff was sometimes dubious—manager of the chain family restaurant meant much longer hours, with no pay increase—but still I moved forward.

    Eventually, I found myself in the insurance industry where my professional growth continued, and I was faced with new and different challenges than I’d ever dealt with before. Dealing with siblings is one thing—birth order gives you a leg up, and tact and grace are less important than the ever present threat to “go tell mom.” Advancing in some of those early jobs was more about my willingness to say yes, work hard, and show up. Innate leadership skills were secondary to reliability. Now, I was challenged to really understand and lead people. Understand their motivation and make them care. About insurance. We used to joke that no one grows up dreaming of being in insurance. However, we’ve all had that story, that one claim, that changes us. That makes us realize the industry is, at its best, about helping people. An injured worker with a family that needs support. A policyholder wondering about what the future holds after a catastrophic loss. We have the ability to teach people to care.

    However, like all things, an idealistic simplification ignores the struggle. Now that they care, how can I keep the day-to-day pressures from leading to disillusion and apathy? Maintaining that empathy can be challenging if my team doesn’t feel supported by me as a leader. I have to say, these are the life skills that you do not learn wrangling siblings. These are the skills—and gaps—that I think about every day, and work toward improving. For me, my leadership may come naturally—I see it in the miniature version of myself I’m raising—but being a natural leader can only get you so far. Throughout my career, I’ve learned just how important it is to continuously work on my skills, especially my leadership abilities. For example, here are a few areas I’m honing in on right now:

    To say the list above is a work in progress is an understatement. I am in debt to the amazing team I have around me; for their support, their dedication, their patience, and their hard work. I am always seeking, challenging, and trying to improve. One day, I’ll figure out how to achieve the proverbial balance of assertiveness.  I’ll remember to show my gratitude in the moment, all of the time, and not just in my midnight musings. The quest continues. In the meantime, I thank my colleagues for being much more cooperative than my siblings.

    Blog by: Rochelle Olivera, Director, Client Services, Mitchell

    Getting to Know Aimee Velez

    What is your role with the Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation?

    Aimee has been engaged with the Alliance since it’s inception, 6 years ago. Her initial role was as a Philadelphia ambassador, she was one of the first ambassadors in the program. Ambassadors bring Alliance content and programming to local areas around the country. Aimee and her co-ambassadors created a successful Alliance in Philadelphia through offering industry and leadership content with engaging speakers. They created a solid sponsor program and built a strong following. Later Aimee supported the development of ambassador programming and events in California and Texas.

    Currently, Aimee is the marketing chair for the Alliance. In this role, she supports content development, marketing campaigns, and event planning for larger-scale events. She has responsibility for the event’s agenda, visual materials, logistics, and speaker coordination. Aimee has been actively involved with the Alliance’s national events for the past 2 years. At her previous job, Aimee was a director of marketing and it is that experience hosting events, parties, and leading communication campaigns that is now a win for the Alliance. Aimee is currently the Chief Marketing Officer for Alta Claims Services.

    What are your current projects with the Alliance?

    Since the pandemic, Aimee created Common Grounds. Common Grounds is the Alliance’s virtual meetup program hosted by ambassadors around the country. Each Common Ground theme Aimee designs is focused on attendee engagement and sharing, collaboration, and networking.  Since the beginning of April, there have been 82 Common Grounds events.

    Many people in the workers’ compensation industry have lost their job during this pandemic, Aimee being one of them. She realized that like herself, there are many people out there who are in need of assistance to get back on their feet, create a plan for the future, and begin their job search. This is how the idea for the current webinar series with life coach Liz M. Lopez came to life. Following the webinars, Common Ground discussions are geared towards content from the webinar. This allows followers to listen to the webinars and also engage with others in the Alliance. Following the career planning webinars with Liz M. Lopez, Aimee shared that content will shift to personal coaching and finding your power with Natalie Fikes.

    “I’m really excited about our Alliance content”, says Aimee. During this time, everyone has been glued to their laptops since work has gone virtual. Aimee feared that people would be burned out with all the virtual meetings already going on. She did not want to water down the content and decided to take a new approach. This new approach gives people a place to share their thoughts, discuss topics, and continue to stay engaged.

    What is an aspirational goal for the Alliance?

    During this pandemic, the rules for safety have been constantly changing. Prior to the pandemic, there were many in-person conferences that the Alliance hosted. In-person conferences are unlikely to occur in the next 6 months, if not longer. Instead, Aimee is hopeful that the Alliance will be able to provide a virtual conference later this year. It would include speakers from our top ambassadors, our employer advisory council, and other hosts. Viewers would be able to log on right from their couches or home offices and still have the networking opportunities they have grown to love with the Alliance. There will be multiple sessions that viewers can pick and choose from. Aimee says she wants to ensure there is still a place and a platform for people to come together to continue to foster mentoring relationships. This is a crazy time, but it nice that something great can come out of this virtual space.

    Have you grown personally or professionally through the Alliance? 

    Aimee shares that her personal and professional growth constantly evolves because of her involvement with the Alliance. She has stepped out of her comfort zone on many occasions whether it is finding sponsors, inviting attendees to attend, or working with new professionals that she might not otherwise have an opportunity to meet. For the Alliance’s RIMS 2019 brunch Aimee created the theme Rise and Resilience. When the keynote speaker canceled at the last minute, Aimee was asked to be one of the panelists sharing personal resilience stories on stage. And while Aimee finds personal stories inspirational, she had never shared her story of abandonment, adoption, and ultimately finding her dear brother with whom she was separated from as a young child. The Alliance has offered Aimee better access to a cross-sectional group of professionals and she is grateful for her experiences.

    Aimee Weiss

    Chief Marketing Officer, Alta Claims Services 

     

    Blog by: Melina Ressler, Intern, Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation