The Advocator Group (TAG) is a nationwide advocacy firm that helps people apply for and receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Laden with red-tape, the process of applying for SSDI benefits can take three years or more. With approximately 80% of Americans living paycheck-to-paycheck, the application process can feel isolating, impossible, and dire.
Luckily, that’s where TAG comes in, and more specifically, the client advocates (CAs) who serve on the frontlines to guide TAG’s clients through the intricacies of the claims process.
While the CA role is an essential and ultimately rewarding one, but employees find it’s not always easy to interface with clients who are in the midst of adversity. As a result, turnover began to increase. This prompted three members of TAG’s leadership team–Julie Turpin, CEO; Michael Shunney, President and COO; and Holli Sannito, Director of Human Resources–to look for a solution.
“Often the CA role is a hard one, and it can be taxing because you’re dealing with people who are in really tough situations and often they think it’s our fault that they’re not receiving their award,” Sannito said. “Because the CA is the client’s initial point of contact, the CAs deal with a lot of that initial pain from the claimant, and we know it takes a special type of person who can be successful in that role.”
Sannito, Turpin, and Shunney knew they needed to build a behavioral profile for a successful CA. Initially, they searched for a pre-hire assessment tool, but ultimately they chose to partner with The Predictive Index®–a platform that allowed them to view their organization holistically through a talent optimization lens.
The leaders first used PI’s Hire solution to improve their hiring and recruiting practices. By using behavioral profiles to create Job Targets and administering the PI Behavioral Assessment™ to candidates, TAG was able to:
- Improve CA retention through the first 90 days.
- Exponentially reduce the time recruiters spent interviewing candidates.
- Improve the overall candidate experience to ensure they were attracting top talent.
“Before PI, understanding how candidates fit a job was one of our biggest problems,” said Sannito. “I feel like we have solved that problem now.”
Having seen firsthand how PI’s people-data driven insights catalyzed change in their hiring and recruiting strategies, the team decided to explore how to further utilize the platform for maximum business impact. “One of the things that matters to us is leveraging our investments,” Turpin said. “So, we started thinking ‘OK, we’ve got this tool. We’ve made this investment. We like how it works. We like the results. We like the efficiency. Are there other use cases for it in our company?’ And we realized you don’t have to look very far to find other use cases.”
With annual planning on the horizon, Sannito proactively reached out to her PI consultant to understand how they could potentially leverage PI’s people insights in their strategic planning. Inherently, she knew that mobilizing TAG’s people and leadership team around key strategies would be critical to the initiatives’ success. She also knew that results improve when a leadership team is moving in the same direction and workstyles are aligned with business strategy. So when her consultant recommended PI’s Design solution to help the leadership team align on and codify their business strategy in order to strategically design their talent strategy, she was all for it.
They started with the PI Strategy Assessment™, a validated survey tool that captures a senior leadership team’s perceptions, agreement, and confidence in their business strategy. The tool documents an organization’s business strategy and expresses it in data-driven terms so everyone is clear on how to execute.
All members of TAG’s leadership team took the short assessment, providing input about which strategic objectives to pursue and how confident they felt in their ability to achieve each priority. Once the results were in, the leadership team met with their PI consultant for an Execute Strategy with Confidence execute session to align on strategy and map the leadership team’s behavioral competencies against that strategy.
“Taking the PI Strategy Assessment sort of opened Pandora’s box for us,” recalled Sannito. “It helped us to identify some gaps in our strategy, and also to point out things that we believe existed but weren’t certain.” Through the Strategy Assessment and Execute Strategy with Confidence workshop TAG discovered differences of opinion on the team, which, given their business model, was not a surprise.
“Our business strategy is, first of all, to continue to grow organically in our core businesses, but also to diversify into different adjacencies that involve what we do in service of our clients,” Shunney said. “Last year, we helped people receive an award over 21,000 times from the federal government, but we’ve observed the fact that we had a compelling opportunity to appreciate the many other things our clients need and to do so in a much broader sense than just the one service we provide.”
“The Strategy Assessment was really insightful,” added Turpin. “It was clear that everyone knew that strategy, but it was also clear that just knowing something doesn’t mean there’s alignment.”
Through the results of the Design solution, TAG brought more clarity and focus to their business strategy. They agreed to a primary strategy focused on stabilizing their core offering by aligning leadership to goals and developing programs to build culture. To do that, they focused on:
- Making sure communications around the business strategy were accessible and understood by all employees regardless of title and level of experience.
- Improving internal communications and setting expectations for performance and goals relative to the business strategy to ensure employees were clear on their growth opportunities.
- Continuing to build on and champion TAG’s core values and demonstrate alignment to the business strategy.
While still new initiatives, the TAG leadership team has already seen improvements in retention and employee engagement, as well as better strategic alignment across the organization.
“What really compelled me about [PI’s Design solution] was the depth of the insights. The assessment didn’t just tell us our scores, but rather provided us with things to be mindful of when putting the insights into business practice,” Shunney said. “We knew we had really good people, but that isn’t enough. We know we’ve got to have people whose priorities are aligned with that of the business. Now, we’re thinking about how to take what we’ve learned and apply it to the business going forward.”
Taking the PI Strategy Assessment sort of opened Pandora's box for us. It helped us to identify some gaps in our strategy, and also to point out things that we believe existed but weren't certain.