2020: The Power of Getting Personal
We’ve been kicked to curb this past year but the silver lining is in the adjustments we’ve made, as a company and as people. Yes, those changes came out of necessity – but I’m hoping they’ll stick because I like who we’ve become.
When COVID hit, priority one was looking after our workforce. We supported the move of every employee to a home office. We had to learn (sometimes the hard way) to manage our people remotely. Old models gave way to new patterns. A lot more screen time and conversations now keep us connected. Stress and uncertainty still test us, so we continue to look for the right ways to assist.
Taking care of our customers has been critical, too. We recognize that they’re weathering the same things we are. Managing responsibilities on the home front and trying to navigate new challenges at work. We strive to be as helpful as we can, providing guidance on business solutions to ease the way short-term, while honouring their longer term strategies. Staying in close contact, having candid conversations, showing empathy, has been the right thing to do. That goes for customers we know as well as new acquaintances needing our assistance.
As we mark a full year of lockdowns, I can’t even count the number of webcasts, blogs and books I’ve seen touting different sales engagement methodologies for the “new normal”. Virtual selling, remote problem solving, selling contactless value. You know what I haven’t seen? A single approach that puts people first. The people responsible for keeping their business afloat. The people whose decisions impact the livelihoods of their staff. The people who must take a calculated step into unknown territory with no information about what the future holds. Those people need our compassion. Our ear. Our understanding.
Looking back, I think we got a few things right this year. And we’re better for it.
These are things I’m particularly proud of.
We acted quickly
When the lockdown was called, all employees were set up to be productive at home. Competent leadership moved quickly to help us protect our people.
We communicate clearly
While we didn’t have any view into how long remote work might last, information from leaders was, and continues to be, shared regularly, giving timely updates on new policies and plans.
We are in touch often
Beyond scheduled meetings, it became clear that more one-on-one conversation was needed. Mental state matters. We want our people and our customers to know that we are here and we care how they’re doing.
We are flexible
It matters little to us where or when work gets done. We do not pretend to know individual circumstances and the stresses they create. Carving space for family responsibilities, health, personal time off, are all important and we respect that.
Thirty percent of our employees worldwide were hired in the last year – all fully remote. Most had not met a manager or peer in person before joining. Our entire new-hire onboarding process has been adapted to support remote work. An equal challenge is imparting company culture from a distance. It takes extra attention, personal invitations and conversations to bring new people into the fold.
We are resilient
When goalposts keep moving, we’ve learned to adjust. That means bending to personal requests and providing value to our customers beyond product features and pricing.
We’ve become more patient
It’s easy to lose sight of how important a healthy workforce is if your focus is on dashboards and finish lines. Our people-first mindset has made us a more humane and patient organization.
We don’t have control over what we want right now – the freedom to return to living our lives the way we want to live them. Despite continued restrictions, we are optimistic. We look forward to embracing our families, friends and colleagues. We’re anxious to create opportunities to interact with customers and prospects in person. We know if we take care of each other, all will be okay.
As I steer through my own personal challenges, I remind myself that those I work with, and the clients who trust us with their most sensitive information, could well have similar burdens. It’s been said that our struggles define us. They shape us. And in many cases, drive us.
Keeping things personal with my team has been the right road for me. It’s the only way I know how to deliver a human experience internally, and in turn, set an example for similar interactions with the people in our business community. For me, work is purposeful when it’s personal. And I want to keep it that way.