By Lili Neagu
“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” - H.E.Loccock
I joined Wind River seven years ago in our office in Romania, Galati, returning to my home city after eight years of being away from family and friends. Full of excitement, I joined the local human resources department at the best software company in town. During my years at Wind River, I have had the opportunity to grow both professionally and personally. I’ve had a chance to work in different roles with a meaningful impact on the local Romanian team, but I always felt a strong feeling of belonging to the global People Team as well.
In my current role as Employee Experience Partner for the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) region, I have learned how to interact with many diverse cultures, work styles, and how to better understand strategy and business impact. Working with colleagues in 18 locations worldwide helped me get used to working remotely even prior to the pandemic. The most interesting part of what I do here at Wind River is being exposed to new learning opportunities constantly by having an opportunity to meet and collaborate with incredibly talented people every day. Truth be told, I was quite intimidated initially. After all, I am from a small city in Romania and suddenly I was about to have a voice to share all across EMEA. I was very pleasantly surprised to realize how smart, capable, respectful, and most importantly, supportive my new colleagues were.
At the end of each day when I think back to all that I have done, what went well and what I can improve on, the first things I always consider are how to grow my relationships with the people I work with. This part of our work environment impacts us the most, and the interactions we have at work shape us in a major way. It impacts the quality of our work, its’ outcome and of course our mental and physical wellbeing. It is so much more enjoyable to work with someone you trust, someone that you know, it becomes natural and easy.
But how do we get there? How do we get to a level of interaction with each other where working together is effortless? I believe that this is directly influenced by the way we build and maintain relationships with each other at work. This involves intentionality, which is especially important in the current climate, when most of us are working remotely or in a hybrid manner. This new way of working has changed the way we establish and maintain relationships. We find ourselves in situations where we no longer get to meet up in the office by the watercooler or the snack cabinet for a quick chat.
This is where we need to be intentional. It is important to create meaningful connections with your colleagues and ensure that this is done consistently and proactively. We should utilize all available tools at our disposal: video calls, phone calls, online chats. We can also work on creating informal group chats with multiple teams where everyone can contribute their news, fun facts, pictures, and advice.
Be authentic. At the end of the day when we close our laptops, we are all just humans. We all have feelings, emotions, and personal stories, and we all experience setbacks and challenges. Some of us may prefer to keep our private lives private and that is important for everyone to mindful of as well. At the same time, others may want to hear personal experiences, as it helps them understand their coworkers better and they feel more comfortable with that style of communication. Sharing vulnerabilities can help teams overall, as being open and honest around challenges can open the door to receiving support, advice, and increased team collaboration
Be present, available and listen to better understand. Active listening during a meeting or an informal discussion is incredibly important to building strong team relationships. We must all multi-task from time to time, and most of us believe that that we can focus on several things at once. But how often do we find ourselves losing track of the topic that is being discussed? Active listening does not only show respect as we are fully present during a discussion, but it also allows us to learn from others. It allows us to create an environment where our diversity of opinions can solve challenges in new and creative ways.
I strongly believe and feel that the way we interact and collaborate with each other at Wind River is the reason that we have such a strong culture. From our guiding principles: We Win as a Team, We Care, We Lead with Impact, We Start with the Customer, We Seek Challenges, Grow Mindset to our corporate values: Team, Fun, Integrity, and Impact...these are the building blocks that we use to create and maintain relationships with each other.
What are some ways that you have found were effective in building a healthy and effective remote working culture?
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