In our new series, we talk to our experts about how to navigate what’s next in their industries or fields.
Nina Liebler is a People and Change Senior Manager in St. Louis with expertise in organizational change management. For over 15 years, Nina has partnered with clients to help them build change capability and embed process, technology and organization changes. Nina enjoys gardening, cooking and running, as well as spending time with family and friends.
What’s your story?
I spent the first 16 years of my career in the retail industry, working in a variety of functional roles – store management, buying, merchandise planning, private label product management. I transitioned into consulting and stumbled on organizational change management when I was assigned my first project. I immediately knew I had found my niche – I was able to combine my MBA degree and my retail experience with my passion for coaching people and helping them be more effective at their jobs.
What’s the best feedback you’ve ever received?
One of my managers encouraged me to always try to position things from a positive angle. He shared some examples, and the concept really resonated with me. In its simplest interpretation, telling a customer “I can’t do…” elicits a very different response than saying, “What I can do is…” I try to apply this concept in both my personal and professional life. While I have room to improve, it is always fascinating to see how it changes the dialog.
Why did you decide to become part of your field?
When I worked in the retail industry, I was on the receiving end of countless changes – new point of sale systems; new processes and timelines for buying products; new roles and expectations for how we planned, designed and sourced product lines; new leaders and reporting relationships. Some changes were managed well, and it was easy to understand and accept what was happening.
Others were not managed as well and were extremely frustrating and demotivating. The first time I was on the other side of one of those changes, as an organizational change management practitioner, it just clicked for me. It was so easy to understand how individuals might feel and anticipate what information they needed. Applying organizational change management methods was almost intuitive. As simple as that sounds, I still find it exciting every day. Each client and every project bring a new challenge.
How are you guiding clients right now?
Right now, I am working with a supply chain company to transform its systems, processes and operating model. This requires their people to think and act differently. I am working with leaders across their organization to help articulate what’s changing and why so they can more effectively drive these changes with their teams.
What, in your opinion, do companies need the most help with right now?
Now more than ever, frequent, transparent, and honest communications are critical. People are dealing with so much uncertainty. Things around us are changing so quickly. It is common to want to wait until we have all the answers before sharing something. With all the ambiguity employees face, it is important to share what we do know. It is also ok to be vulnerable and say, “I don’t know.” From the employees’ perspective, knowing leaders are thinking about it is as important as knowing the answer.
What do you think they should be thinking about next?
What will “normal” look like for my organization in the future? Despite all the challenges 2020 brought, it has also brought a tremendous amount of opportunity. It has changed how we think about and approach our work. Companies and individuals have had to get creative. Now is the time to start thinking about what employees will expect from their employers in the future. As an employer, what do you want to be known for? How will you attract and retain great talent?
What are you looking forward to in your industry?
Remote work has made digital even more central to our existence, both personally and professionally. I’m excited to see how companies evolve their internal practices, ways of working and cultures to adapt as we emerge from the pandemic. And, I look forward to having new challenges I can partner with clients to address.
What do you do when you’re not guiding clients?
The two things I enjoy the most are being outdoors and spending time with family and friends. You will often find me working in my garden or participating in one of the many fun outdoor events going on in my neighborhood. I also enjoy visiting all the great local restaurants for a date night with my husband or friends and family. Right now, it’s curbside pickup and Zoom dinners, but I look forward to returning to in-person dining again!