Episode 2 : Sharing knowledge to prepare the next generation of service excellence ambassadors
Karine was raised in France, is fluent in English and is a native Spanish and French speaker. Therefore it’s no surprise that with such a multi-cultural background, Karine has performed so well at Lombard International Assurance, a company she joined 13 years ago. Today, as Head of the Service Excellence and Transformation Hub (SET Hub), she shares with us her leadership vision, the responsibilities that carries and the important role it plays in delivering service excellence to our partners and clients.
What was your very first management experience?
I think it goes back to my volleyball years! I was team captain and in this role I had to lead by example and live by core values including respect, team spirit and integrity. I had to inspire and motivate my team at all times. I think that the most important lesson I learned from this experience is that the strength of a team lies in how well the diversity of personalities and talent of its members comes together. Everyone had something different to bring to the table and as the captain it was my role to make sure that it would help bring more impact to our common goals and objectives. Empathy and active listening are also essential skills so the sum of all the parts are greater than the individual. It's this same approach that I apply to my work today.
What do you think is your most important responsibility as a team leader today?
I believe that as a team leader I have a duty to empower people. It starts by sharing my knowledge and experience. My team members should benefit from this and I always make sure I provide them with the opportunity to learn and develop themselves. Empowering them is a win-win situation. It's both rewarding for me as a leader as it reinforces what I’ve learned through the years, and for my team members it enables them to benefit from practical advice and enhance their skills set. I strongly believe that we all learn by doing. This is why I always try not to just delegate a series of tasks but instead provide a comprehensive set of objectives and projects which they can own and feel responsible for. I’ve made it my mission to help prepare the next generation of experts and managers at Lombard International Assurance. I am here today as a team leader, but tomorrow my team members could be the ones in charge.
What’s your secret recipe to motivate your team on a daily basis to deliver excellence?
I’m afraid I have none! I believe that there is no secret recipe when it comes to managing a team. I think a lot of it depends on good intentions and common sense. I lead by example and drive my team on the day to day by setting priorities and defining team goals.
I will focus on one example as there are so many factors involved in striving to deliver excellence. In our PCS teams, delivering good service means that our partners and clients must be able to reach the right person that will give them the right answer in the appropriate timeframe. What brings excellence in this process is our ability to understand the cultural differences of our clients and partners. Within PCS, we are lucky to have colleagues who come from one or another country we serve. This is one of our greatest assets. With more than 40 nationalities speaking over 25 languages, not only we can engage with our clients and partners in their native tongue but we can also build a strong relationship based on that feeling “Great, I have someone on the phone who understands me, my needs and my culture”. And the best way we can evaluate if we achieve excellence is when our clients or partners share their feedback directly with us. I specifically remember an event in Spain last year where one of our key partners praised us for delivering great service and recommended his network to work with us. His words came from the heart and made me so proud of my team!
What do you think your team likes the most about you?
I have been working for Lombard International Assurance for the past 13 years and my team sometimes teases me by saying that I am their human “Siri”, having answers to all of their questions! It shows me that they appreciate my presence and my willingness to help. I spend a lot of time with my team on a daily basis. Being present is not about saying “I am here if you need me” or “My door is still open”… For me it is about spontaneously going to meet them and spending time with them. That is my personal definition of being available for your team. It must be a proactive natural availability, otherwise it is useless.
What makes a good PCS team member?
I think it lies in one single quality: having that mindset of doing the best you can to delight your partners, clients and colleagues.