How Progressive’s IT BRM Team Leverages Empathy

OpinionPosted | Category: BRM Community, BRM Philosophy | Contributed

Progressive IT BRM Team

On the final day of BRMConnect 2019, three IT BRMs with Progressive Insurance jointly shared their knowledge and experiences in exercising empathy within their BRM role. Uzma Rahman, Delia Popoviciu, and Jeff Harb took turns expanding on how and why intentionally developing empathy skills has been so impactful within their organization.

They’ve graciously provided actionable ways that you can do the same in your day-to-day, whether you’re a BRM or not!

Empathy at a Glance

Empathy is the ability to understand and recognize the feelings of others, as well as their thoughts and motivations. Additionally, it means to identify with that person by “putting yourself in their shoes.” As an ability, empathy is a crucial skill which BRMs should develop in order to progress in their role and capability.

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Motivation
  • Empathy
  • Social skills


Equitable Partnerships: Shared Risk– Share Reward


In order to better understand your strategic partners and address their needs, BRMs need empathy in their toolset. When you view your strategic partners as equals, you maintain the mindset of shared risk—shared reward, and can move to a Trusted Advisor in that relationship more efficiently.

Progressive Insurance’s IT BRM department advocates to bring the human aspect back into technology to improve relationships across the organization. For this reason, the IT BRM presenters shared how they conducted “sit-withs” with their Call Center Reps to experience their pain and observe first-hand what causes delays in average handle times.

Through this connecting process fed by empathy, Progressive’s IT BRMs were able to identify and implement solutions cross-functionally to reduce average handle times. Ultimately, this contributed to Progressive’s organization at-large viewing IT as a trusted advisor.

Three Ways to Exercise Empathy 


Explore the “Why?”

Asking the right questions is the first step to empathize quickly and meaningfully with someone. Questions such as, “How did you feel when “x” happened?”, or “Why is that?” demonstrate genuine concern.

“When people notice you taking interest in their lives by asking probing questions, their emotions rise to the surface, creating an opportunity for a significant empathic connection”

- Delia Popoviciu


The goal of listening is not to form your own response, which many of people do, but rather to learn about the speaker. Here are a few ways you can practice active listening:

  • Let the speaker finish speaking completely before responding
  • Focus on understanding the speaker’s “why”
  • Ask helpful questions
  • Avoid “agreement statements” that don’t add value
  • Listen to understand, not to provide an immediate solution
  • Reiterate what you learned

Asking the right questions is the first step to empathize quickly and meaningfully with someone. Questions such as, “How did you feel when “x” happened?”, or “Why is that?” demonstrate genuine concern.


Walk a Mile in Their Shoes

 Knowledge is not understanding. When you are attempting to solve existing problems within your teams and organizations, conducting “sit-withs” to understand your partner’s reality can illuminate the problem and lead to a shared understanding.

To learn how to help, experience the problems, pains, or roadblocks your strategic partners are experiencing. Through this vulnerable sharing, BRMs can better discover and implement effective solutions and ultimately establish greater trust which builds stronger relationships.

To learn more about how you can shift your organization to be more “People Focused”, take a look at The Rebirth of HR Through Business Relationship Management.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share This

Share this post with your peers!