It’s time for another “Meet the Team,” feature, which will introduce you to one of our instructors in the RBLP program. Today’s interview is with Meghan Michael, RBLP-T!
You went from a military career in the Navy to working in human resources, with that as a focus as an Adjunct Professor at Lourdes University. What drove you to pursue HR when you transitioned into civilian work?
I actually was HR in the Navy as well. I first started out as a P-3C Orion Naval Flight Officer and did about nine years of active duty. During that time, I deployed to Asia and the Middle East, flying missions over Afghanistan right after 9/11. It was a new mission to our platform to fly overland as the P-3C was designed to be a submarine hunter. But in true military style, we flexed to meet the mission. Flying in support of the troops that were boots on ground during that initial ramp up was an experience I will never, ever forget for the rest of my life.
I then went on to a shore tour in a Navy schoolhouse where I learned all about the formal side of curriculum development, and teaching, and I was able to earn my masters degree at that time too. I decided it was time to leave the Navy and went in the Reserves. I was lucky to get a reserve job working in another schoolhouse and it was there I learned about the Navy HR community. Since I enjoyed training and education so much, and that is a core competency of Navy HR, I decided to apply to return to active duty and was accepted as an HR officer.
What can you tell us about your education and career background before you started working with RBLP?
I knew when I retired from the Navy in 2017 that I did not want to go into the corporate sector, and I felt it was time to be more available to my family. I actually planned to take a one-year break after retirement to just relax, however that only lasted about three months and I started looking into starting my own business. With a masters degree in Global Leadership from the University of San Diego and with my education and training background, I was also interested in getting back into the classroom. So I began teaching at a local university in their College of Business and Leadership as an adjunct professor in 2018.
Who is a role model that you’ve interacted with in your life that inspired you toward this career trajectory?
I would have to say my parents and my husband. My dad was a high school teacher and coach (of many sports!) my entire life growing up. I grew up in a family that always encouraged education, learning and growth. My parents always pushed my brother and I to learn and grow, to try new things, and not be afraid to fail. It was really part of my identity before I even joined the Navy. My husband was the one who encouraged me to go back on active duty in 2006 because he knew how much I loved it and missed it.
What drew you to the role that you’re fulfilling with RBLP as a certification instructor?
I love to coach and teach – it’s that simple! Even when I was in positions in the Navy where teaching wasn’t my formal position, I always looked for opportunities to teach and coach. I truly enjoy helping people learn and love nothing more than to see the light bulb go on for them when they learn a new concept and they become more confident in their understanding.
In your mind, what is the best definition of “resilience” for those who might be unfamiliar with the program that RBLP offers?
This is a tough one, but I think I would narrow it down to the ability to adapt and react quickly and confidently to chaotic or stressful situations. In the case of the RBLP, it would be the team’s ability to adapt and react.
What are the three most important components, in your opinion, that you try to convey to every team that you train under the RBLP certification program?
I think the first component that is so vital to understand is how important the concepts of creating a positive climate, developing cohesion and providing purpose are in building a resilient team. So many leaders want to jump into an organization and fix problems or processes but neglect to place any focus on the people. I also think it’s important to understand that our roles as leaders is to train and teach the people we lead to eventually replace us. There is so much fear in leaders that if our people are smarter than us, or more creative than us that we can be replaced. But what they don’t realize is by encouraging that learning in them, our people begin to trust us, and would go to the ends of the earth to support us as leaders. I think the last most important component is that as leaders we have to always model the behaviors we want our people to display. Too many people lead with the motto “Do as I say, not as I do” – that never builds trust, and ultimately will never build a resilient team.
What is one of your own best personal experiences in your career that has influenced or inspired you in your certification training?
Well there are many, many experiences in my career that I was able to relate to this certification training. Probably one of my most significant was taking over an organization that was really struggling; they had failed their tri-annual assessment (military folks will understand this one) and actually failed more than once. There was no trust in the chain of command, no accountability, and just an overall bad feeling. I was actually told by some folks that it was known as one of the worst organizations of its kind in the entire country! A lot of people outside the organization told me the people there were lazy and no good. But when I got there, I realized nobody had invested in these people. They didn’t know why they were there (purpose), were not being held accountable, there was a lot of “do as I say, not as I do” from the leaders. People aren’t “bad”, they just need guidance, directing, accountability, etc. They needed someone to invest in them, as people. We started from the basics and focused on our purpose, having some fun, establishing high standards (and holding each other accountable). It took over a year, but we eventually got to the point where we became a learning organization, where people wanted to improve processes (on their own), help each other, and invest in each other. In fact, we even got to the point where people were asking to be assigned to our organization as well as being the model organization for many programs in the region and country. I was very happy to be able to influence this group of people and demonstrate that an organization can change from what they were to a resilient team.
In your time as an RBLP instructor, what is one of your best memories of a training program that you’ve accomplished with a company and why?
Well I have only worked with individuals so far, but I have truly enjoyed hearing the stories from people of their experiences and seeing the light go on as to how it relates to the concepts of the RBLP. I know when I did own my training sessions, I kept exclaiming “wow, this is exactly what I was going through or experiencing.”
Pivoting a little bit from the program – tell us a little about yourself outside of work! What other activities or hobbies do you love?
Well, I am a mom to two very independent teenagers and a wife to a Marine Corps veteran. I am proud to say he and I have been married for almost 19 years and with both of us serving on active duty in two different services, we learned how to be a very resilient couple! Usually my free time is taken up by my kids’ activities (namely sports) and I also coach a high school girls’ rugby team. I serve as the Chairperson of my local school district’s Parent Safety Task Force as well as Co-Chairperson of the NW Ohio Military Affairs Committee. I also mentor veterans transitioning from active duty to the civilian sector.
Can you give us a quotation that you feel really inspires you to continue inspiring others?
“Remember where you came from…” I am not sure anybody famous ever said it, but my dad told me that a very long time ago and it has always stuck with me. No matter where in life I am, always reach back and help others along their journey, be a good example to others and just be kind.
RBLP leadership certifications are about Building Resilient Teams™ that overcome adversity and then can adapt and grow! As always, we are #StrongerTogether.
Learn more about the requirements for the RBLP Certification program.