In director on the redesign of Liberty Mutual’s 130-person

In 2016, I collaborated with a peer and a director on the redesign
of Liberty Mutual’s 130-person recruiting function, to improve the employee
experience. The director was new to her role and new to human resources. She
came into the project unfamiliar with the tensions in recruiting leadership, and
without knowledge of established HR processes. Eager to prove herself, she
insisted on an aggressive five-month timeline to implement an untested,
experimental organization structure.

Having been recruiting’s HR Business Partner for a year, I
was well aware of the mistrust amongst the recruiting leaders and layoff risks.
Wanting to support the director’s authority, but stay realistic about
solutions, I posed questions to refine her goals and direction. Questions sparked
discussions allowing my peer and I to share our HR knowledge, help the director
understand the complexities involved, and make adjustments. While mapping out a
project plan, I realized my employee relations expertise surpassed that of the
director. Typically, the director would assess reorganization legal risks and
gain attorney approval, but knowing the condensed timeline, I proactively
volunteered to handle risk assessment. As we proceeded, my peer expressed
doubts about the plan’s objectives and intended outcomes. I recognized that she
didn’t trust the data we relied on for our models, so we walked through the
data sources together until she felt confident. In seven months, we executed
the new recruiting structure, and employee feedback about the changes has been
positive.  

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In this team experience, I realized that my personal style
of ‘leading from behind’ worked particularly well because I was not in a
position of formal authority. The three things I did to drive towards success,
I would bring to my teams at Wharton: clarify goals, step forward in key
moments, and ensure team alignment. Further, I want to use opportunities at
Wharton, like the Field Application Project and Leadership Ventures, to develop
my flexibility with a more direct leadership style. At Wharton, I will be on learning
teams without an appointed leader, and I will be able to navigate that ambiguity
by facilitating inclusive discussions and trusting my teammates’ ideas while drawing
on my experiences to provide insight. On a team, I know I don’t need to have
all the answers, but where to find them. By identifying my teammates’
complementary skill sets, I am able to shepherd them towards a common goal.

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