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The Collaborative Way at Highpoint

By October 6, 2021Culture

In honor of National Coaching day (Oct. 6th), we thought it would be a perfect time to highlight the Collaborative Way and how we use the book here at Highpoint. 

Meet Amy Nicholas, CIC, ACSR. She has been a Highpoint employee from day one, our camp counselor, our face of Highpoint, and of course, our PEOPLE CHAMPION. Amy has a love and passion for teaching and helping others succeed and started a new employee book club that meets once a month to talk about the 5 Collaborative Way tenants (listed below) and how they apply in real life, with real-life experiences and challenges to speak through. 

The 5 tenants of The Collaborative Way:

    • Listen Generously – Listening without distractions or the need to reply, listening with the intention of being influenced,  Listening without judgments.
    • Speaking Straight – Speaking up in an honest and forwarding manner. Making clear a direct request. Being willing to be uncomfortable in order to move forward. 
    • Acknowledgment and Appreciation – Giving in all directions of the organization. Actively looking for and acting on the opportunities to share with others. Giving with intention and depth.
    • Being for Each Other – Supporting others’ successes and providing encouragement to grow from constructive feedback. In a conflict with others, look for positive intent, do not assume negative intentions. Address misunderstandings quickly so they do not linger or fester.
    • Honoring Commitments – Request deadlines on all commitments. Communicate if a commitment cannot be kept or navigate through issues to find a way. All commitments have value, make sure your commitments are aligned with the goals of the organization.


When did we start using The Collab way?

We have been using Collaborative Way for 5+ years. We were introduced to CW by an insurance peer and consulting group, “Marsh Berry.” MB’s organization had been reading the CW book, and noticed a tremendous impact on their staff and culture. At that time, Highpoint was looking to redefine our culture and decided to have the leadership and sales team read the CW book. We launched this at an annual sales summit towards the end of 2016. Our CEO, Heather Smyrl, knew that many may not grasp the book’s principles without intentionality. We needed a way to get buy-in for the values described in the book and be intentional about practicing. And so, the book club or small group was created. We met once a month and read a chapter a month. We discussed the chapter during the monthly meeting and discussed real scenarios where CW principles could be applied in our company. This was a very vulnerable and honest meeting. From these meetings, we gained tremendous insight into our culture and how we need to make changes. After completing the “The Collaborative Way” book club, this group also committed to a book club on “Leading the Collaborative Way”. “Leading The Collaborative Way” provides practical application to the principles described in “The Collaborative Way”. We have had our entire staff read both books and continue to introduce new team members to the principles and practices of CW.


When did the study groups start?

In 2018 & 2019, we introduced the book club/ small group idea to the entire staff. The leaders and sales team mentioned above became the champions and teachers for the remainder of the staff. In 2020 & 2021, I began groups with newer staff members to give them the same book club experience. For all groups, we cover both books and meet monthly with an hour of reading for homework.


What impact has it had on the company from your point of view?

SOOOO many GREAT things have come for this. Our staff has a common language to help resolve office place conflicts or frustrations. There is mutual respect for all different work styles. The organization as a whole is able to make impactful traction on our goals. I think this is a direct result of the Honoring Commitments principle. Everyone is willing to call out if a goal gets off track, which is not something you see in most organizations. We encourage and empower our team members to resolve issues within their teams, and most are done without management or leadership involvement. Trust has been built and repaired in groups that in past years were struggling. Our stressors and challenges as an organization have not changed drastically over the past 5 years, but our employees are able to handle them with more grace and integrity. This results in everyone having more FUN at Highpoint. We still work incredibly hard, but we are enjoying doing it. 😊 


If you could pick ONE most impactful tenet, what would it be & why?

For me, Listening Generously is the most impactful principle. Nothing happens, and most likely, nothing will change until you take the time to LISTEN to the other side of the issue or the other person’s perspective. Listening has to happen before you can effectively practice any of the other principles.



Want to learn more about The Collaborative Way?

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