Technology can be the savior or the Achilles heel of an organization’s ability to thrive in this multigeneration, global professional environment. As we see greater flexibility from organizations (i.e., virtual offices, working from home, etc.), an increase in collaboration between generations and a paradigm shift in the hierarchy (Baby Boomers reporting to Millennials), we 1) have to equip teams with the technological tools to succeed, but also 2) resource them with the training to be collaborative, transparent and supportive of each other. For us, when recruiting and retaining talent, it has been mission-critical that we figure out the correct balance between IQ (the ability to do the job function) and EQ (the ability to inspire, collaborate and succeed within our culture). We are heavily investing in collaboration tools that will allow us the flexibility needed for us to perform within our squads. We are training, and retraining, our managers and directors so that they possess an IQ/EQ balance to lead — as this is the key to future success. As women, we are innately able to do this (thank goodness!), but sometimes we’re encouraged to suppress the EQ part of ourselves as we advance. I recommend leaning into that part of ourselves — it is our superpower.
Joy Altimare is the Chief Engagement and Brand Officer at the industry-leader in health and wellness for over 100 years, EHE. With over 16 years of experience in the marketing field, she has become an expert adviser to organizations looking to tackle growth, innovation, and technology challenges. Prior to joining the healthcare world, Joy worked on such brands as L’Oreal, Verizon, and Colgate-Palmolive at such agencies as Ogilvy+Mather, GREY and Publicis.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I started my career on the advertising agency side — working with the strategic planner, account management, and creative teams. I’ve always been intrigued by the correlation between influence and behavior and worked really hard to translate that interest into expertise.
Throughout my career, I have been an expert advisor and resource for organizations tackling growth, innovation, and technology challenges and positioning themselves as positive disruptors within their category.
Prior to joining the health care space, I worked with leading agencies such as Ogilvy+Mather, GREY, and Publicis on preeminent brands like L’Oreal, Verizon, and Colgate-Palmolive.
I then shifted into a role at publishing giant Conde Nast, transferring my skills to the media world. I helped the company bridge the divide between its traditional roots and digital future, providing strategic insight as the industry’s terrain changed.
Now, I direct EHE’s — the 105 -year old company that strives to be the transformative agent in employees lives — innovative engagement strategy. In the role, I am the consumer engagement architect, leading the alignment of EHE’s unique preventive care product with a frictionless, patient-centered process designed to drive results and satisfaction. My team discovers key motivators of behavioral change, utilizes them to expand EHE’s reach and maximize its value to drive patient utilization.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Well, as a 105-year old company, we have a blended employee workforce. We have members of our team that have been with us for 35 years and “newbies” who joined us 2 weeks ago.
The most interesting thing happens when you’re trying to create productive cross-discipline, multi-generational, varied-tenured teams. You cannot hire and fire your way into success, so you have to create an environment centered around values of mutual respect, transparency, collaboration and security. It is difficult to do, but when you succeed — it becomes the most interesting exercise of human behavior — which all marketers geek out on.
It has been very interesting to observe this complex matric of employees co-exist and, often times, thrive as we transition the company completely — from our working environment, our product — the service and the delivery of that service — to the shifting from an analog to a digital world. It has all been an interesting learning experience.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
We have the unique advantage of being a 105-year-old company whose core reason for existence has the most relevance for everyone. We celebrate innovation and we are the only providers of holistic healthcare. We believe that everyone deserves the resources to lead a healthy, productive, long life.
With the unsatisfactory state of preventive health in America, and the clear-cut opportunity for employers to derive important benefits from optimal health status of their employees, our mission logically evolved into four elements which are mandatory for success:
- Deliver a forward-looking, evidence-based preventive program that is age and gender specific;
- Strive to engage employees who, for whatever reason, avoid or can’t get the right preventive program for themselves;
- Offer the best provider network to consistently deliver quality, preventive services;
- Engage in sophisticated data gathering and analysis to continually improve the program, and report to clients fairly and transparently the value that is being created.
Our story is in the daily articulation of this mission and how everyone — from Glennys, our receptionist, to David, our CEO, believes and executes against this mission.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Always. We’re always working on exciting projects because we are attempting something that has never been done before in healthcare — to create relevancy around healthcare in an attempt to connect people to their greatest asset — themselves. We are truly inspired by the additive benefits and we’re learning from Companies who have undergone digital transformation to operate in a truly agile and responsive environment. We’re hoping to be a part of a small list of century old companies who have been able to adapt and pivot their business — responding to the nimbleness required to meet (and lead) the consumer needs.
What advice would you give other female leaders to help their team thrive?
Listen to your employees. People typically resign from jobs when they feel as though there are no other options. Most people give the organization many opportunities to help them ‘change their minds and stay”. However, when you do not listen nor have a consistent feedback loop — it becomes hard to address the changes before they come too large to overcome.
What advice would you give other females leaders about the best way to manage a large team.
Technology can be the savior or the Achilles heel of an organization’s ability to thrive in this multigeneration, global professional environment. As we see greater flexibility from organizations (i.e., virtual offices, working from home, etc.), an increase in collaboration between generations and a paradigm shift in the hierarchy (Baby Boomers reporting to Millennials), we 1) have to equip teams with the technological tools to succeed, but also 2) resource them with the training to be collaborative, transparent and supportive of each other. For us, when recruiting and retaining talent, it has been mission-critical that we figure out the correct balance between IQ (the ability to do the job function) and EQ (the ability to inspire, collaborate and succeed within our culture).
We are heavily investing in collaboration tools that will allow us the flexibility needed for us to perform within our squads. We are training, and retraining, our managers and directors so that they possess an IQ/EQ balance to lead — as this is the key to future success. As women, we are innately able to do this (thank goodness!), but sometimes we’re encouraged to suppress the EQ part of ourselves as we advance. I recommend leaning into that part of ourselves — it is our superpower.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I have been very blessed to have been bolstered by a strong, and deep, network since I was a young girl.
I grew up in a tight-knit community in a small Tennessee town. And while not perfect, it was an idyllic childhood, full of love from and willing sacrifices of my parents and extended family; support from the all-girls school I attended; positive attention and poignant direction from my swim coaches and dance teachers; and full of support from the sisterhood of ladies that I grew up with.
But, the person who helped me the most was the man who loved my family like we were a part of his own — our pastor, Pastor WC Hunter.
Without his spiritual leadership, I don’t think that I would have had the foundation nor the courage to pursue my destiny. So many times, when I have been so far away from my family — either in Boston for college or now in Manhattan — I recall his leadership and practical lessons and application of the Gospel to my lives today. I cherished the real-life, honest advice he shared with my family and the way he encouraged our congregation — both men, women; boys and girls — to work hard, love God and your family, and pursue your passions. He was an example of perseverance, loyalty and servant leadership — and I hope that, even in his passing, he’s proud of all of the people his life touched.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Well, I think that would be the process of really discovering the difference between my calling and my career.
And, I think I have a bit more time to translate my success into goodness throughout the world; and maybe, it’s all about the next generation. That said, I was supremely blessed to have had my daughter in 2014. She’s the funniest, kindest, smartest, sweetest soul in the world.
When I think about my path to this point, I think I would be successful if I could teach her all the lessons I’ve learned, you know…in some way spare her the pain of going through it while passing along the wisdom so that she can benefit from it. That’s every parents dream, I guess. But, having her as I neared my 40’s helped me realize that I enjoy (and I’m blessed to have) a career that excites and challenges me, but I LOVE having a daughter and having her teach me about forgiveness, love, and caring for others. The more successful I am at raising her, perhaps the more goodness there will be in the world.
What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned from My Experience and Why.
Listen and ask questions.
If someone doesn’t agree with your management style or doesn’t like the direction of the company, don’t silence that person. Listen. And ask questions of your entire team: What do you think of this? How do you feel about that? This open dialogue makes it easier to proactively identify problems and work together to create a mutually beneficial environment. It will also make your employees feel appreciated and acknowledged.
I recall earlier in my career I felt intimidated by executives who didn’t encourage transparency, and really discouraged opinions from anyone other than themselves. When I was in my early 20’s, I worked for a large NYC advertising agency on one of their largest accounts. It was exciting time for me as I thought that could learn and contribute a lot to the team. But, within months I was miserable. Every ‘team huddle’ was spent hearing from our most senior male executive who continued to tell us how amazing he and his ideas were; he never shared accolades to his senior staff and he never asked anyone any questions. There was so much distance and discord on the team, due to his inability to be a leader who valued to the opinions of others and foster an open-dialogue environment.
Set the goal of working as a team. Encourage a squad-mentality.
If you want your team members to work together, have them work for something together. Setting goals just for the department or one individual breeds a limited mentality and forces team members to remain isolated. Instead, give staffers a unified focus and purpose, to inspire them together.
It is my job as a leader to set the goals for the company and remove barriers for the team to succeed. To do that, we’ve re-thought our structure and have adopted to concept around building cross-discipline squads. It’s similar to how start-ups operate, and since we consider ourselves a 105-year old start up, it works well for us. Squads are multi-disciplinary teams that foster agility, collaboration and expert delivery. Leverage the business, technology and product subject matter experts; I guarantee the process helps drive towards resolution.
I know this to be true as we have seen our performance increase — resulting in the best month we’ve had in our Company’s history. And, morale across the company has drastically improved.
This is important to your personal growth and to one’s ability to lead. Your team — and your colleagues — should see that you’re not perfect, that when you are wrong you can be transparent. While it may seem counter to leadership 101, I’ve seen leaders endear the team to them when they can exhibit a true sense of vulnerability — it makes them more relatable and approachable.
President Obama did this several times during his presidency; when he was visibly upset with the unfortunate incident at Sandy Hook or when he sang “Amazing Grace” during Rev. Pinckney’s eulogy. While he did a lot of great things during his tenure as our 44th president, these sincere moments of vulnerability made him one of our most compassionate leaders.
Be consistent. Publicly reward and recognize hard work.
When a member of your team does something exceptional, reward him/her — with a bonus, a small trophy or even just a vocal recognition. Do this in front of the group; it will make the intended recipient feel good and show the rest of the team that hard work is rewarded. The only caveat goes back to the rule above: Be consistent in your rewards so you won’t be seen as playing favorites.
I have had good and bad managers, and what I learned from the good managers is that it’s imperative to provide consistent, real-time feedback to the team. Publicly praise good behavior, and privately provide constructive feedback. The annual review should not be full of surprises, it should not be a time for an ambush. I have found that recognizing behavior in real-time allows for immediate improvement and leads to greater employee satisfaction.
Never go with ‘one-size-fits-all.’
Most teams are comprised of individuals with unique preferences, strengths, weaknesses and ideas. Never use the exact same approach to motivate, encourage or mold all of them. Focus on individuals and customize your approach to fit each one.
As I mentioned, we have a unique culture full of people who have worked for the organization from 3 weeks to 35 years. The most interesting thing happens when you’re trying to create productive cross-discipline, multi-generational, varied-tenured teams. It has been essential for us, as leaders, to get to know people as individuals, which requires time and investment.
I, personally, meet with my direct reports weekly during my 1:1 and I encourage them to do the same with their teams. But, I also have quarterly 1:1’s with my entire organization and encourage an open-door policy for EVERYONE in the organization. Being respectful of my colleagues, I encourage our cross-disciplined squads to pop-in my office if they have any questions, concerns or praises for their colleagues.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
If I could do anything in the world, it would be to have the financial ability to support single, working mothers. Especially women who have left non-ideal personal situations to provide a better life for them and their families. I would provide them with 100% confidential support — legal counsel, emotional and mental wellbeing counsel, living and education expense. And, it’s important to note, that this would be accessible to all women. Women who are at the executive assistant level to the executives that they support.
I have found that society often looks at educated, happy, smiling women and they think that they are doing just fine. But, sometimes those women wear a mask at work and are really dealing with some not-so-nice-stuff at home. I would have a fund for women who need to leave their current situation and provide them with access to the support — financial, emotional or physical — they may need for themselves and their families. All confidential. All free. For all women.
This is a movement centered around building a community of those who care — because, truly, it takes a village.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Don’t’ be afraid to be ‘too’. Too emotional, too childish, too straight-forward, too whatever. There always will be someone who will love [or like] you for who you are, who’ll find special enchantment in all your ‘toos’”
My name is Joy. I am 5’10” and I typically wear 3”-4” heels. I am vocal, smiley and usually wear colors that represent my mood — white, pink, blues, etc. I was, surprisingly (not!) voted most vivacious in high school. I have been told, most of my life, that I was “too much”. And, I used to try to hide it — try to underplay my excitement, my passion, actually, try to hide my voice. That all changes when I turned 36 years-old. I became pregnant with my first child and I realized that I wanted my daughter to be strong, compassionate and happy. But, I also wanted her to have the ability to find, use and celebrate her voice.
So, I had to be an example of the behavior I wanted her to possess. So, I made my personal mantra.
No more. No longer.
No longer will I be a silent player.
No longer will I be ashamed of my opinions or how I talk.
No longer will I hide my smile with my hands.
No longer will I think that strength means the absence of compassion.
No longer will I live the way I think others expect me to.
No longer will I apologize for being myself.