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Adapting to Workplace Changes: Monique Herena of American Express

 Adapting to Workplace Changes: Monique Herena of American Express

"Adapting to change is essential for growth, not just a good-to-have."

In this episode of Great Minds, Monique Herena, Chief Colleague Experience Officer at American Express, explains the significant impact of change and discomfort in the workplace.

Gain insights into strategies that enable leaders to steer through change and inspire their teams. You’ll also find out how American Express has managed flexible working conditions and why it’s crucial for everyone, including individual contributors, to exemplify values and leadership behaviours.

How do you motivate leaders to accept change?

At Amex, every employee, whether an individual contributor or a team leader, is evaluated not only on their achievement of business goals but also on how they achieve them.

Our leadership behaviour framework focuses on adopting an enterprise mindset, fostering collaboration, making bold decisions, and maintaining an external outlook.

We cultivate this mindset through extensive support, training, and resources, expecting employees to challenge the status quo, engage in respectful debates, and promote creative thinking, continuous learning, and inclusive change.

We constantly ask ourselves how we can improve, work more efficiently, and remain competitive.

Our 170-year history of continuous innovation is a testament to our commitment to these principles.

How do you identify leaders who resist change?

We dedicate a significant amount of time to strategy and talent development. We discuss these topics monthly, offer daily coaching, and establish expectations for performance and leadership behaviours.

Are you exhibiting an enterprise mindset geared towards change? If not, how can you adjust your approach? Those who fail to do so will not thrive at Amex because they won’t be able to meet the performance standards required for sustained growth.

It’s crucial to set clear expectations, offer support, and demonstrate the consequences of not aligning with our direction. Adopting change is essential for growth, not just a nice-to-have.

American Express has implemented a flexible work model called Amex Flex. How does this model operate?

It includes three work designations: fully onsite, fully virtual, and hybrid, with the majority of our employees working in a hybrid setup.

We have been diligent in listening to and learning from our colleagues, and we are open to evolving our strategies based on their feedback. This approach helps us create the right solutions to meet both our employees’ needs and the business’s requirements, ensuring continuous support for our customers.

In a recent survey, 91% of our colleagues said they would recommend Amex as a great workplace, and the same percentage, 91%, feel supported by their leaders in making decisions about their well-being.

American Express has appeared on the 100 Best list for 24 years and is the leading workplace in the financial industry. What is the secret to this enduring success?

It’s a tremendous honor to be on lists where our colleagues’ feedback and experiences contribute to our rankings. We take immense pride in this recognition.

We believe in maintaining a consistent investment in the most crucial aspects of our business. For us, our most valuable competitive edge is our talent, and we prioritize it all the time, not just occasionally.

If you could go back and give your younger self some advice, what would it be?

As an adult, I am recognized as a bold change leader. However, I would tell my younger self to take even more calculated risks, despite already taking many. I would encourage myself to embrace more opportunities for stepping out of my comfort zone. Reflecting on my career, I see that those challenging moments, often prompted by others, were when I experienced the most significant growth.

Research shows that we learn a lot from reflecting on our experiences. Those moments of uncertainty and discomfort, when you aren’t sure if you’ll succeed, are the ones where you learn and grow the most.

What book would you recommend to your peers?

I gave my team a copy of Adam Grant’s latest book, “Hidden Potential.” I firmly believe in everyone’s potential and focus on how we can support their long-term growth and development, rather than just their current status.

Viewing the world as a lifelong learner means understanding that no one ever truly “arrives” and avoiding labelling people. We all can grow and change.

One key takeaway from Adam’s book is that stepping out of your comfort zone and experiencing discomfort is what unlocks hidden potential. No one has a superior ability to learn more effectively or efficiently than others.

This blog is based on insights shared by Monique Herena in an interview conducted by Roula Amire, the content director of Great Place To Work®. Roula has 20 years of experience as a journalist and leading company culture and corporate communications content. For more details, you can read the full article here.

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