Culture is important. It is at the core of our organizations, drives engagement on our teams, and is what makes how we carry out our work unique. It represents the sum of our:
- Behaviours and
- Attitudes that shape our workplaces, brands, and interactions with students.
We all have a role to play in influencing, adding to, and living out our organizational culture. So at a time when we are working remotely, facing challenges, and adapting to a new reality all around us, what are some of the ways we can preserve and maintain culture?
This was the topic explored on March 27th at the first of many virtual roundtables being hosted as a part of the CACEE community’s response to COVID-19. These are some of the nuggets of insight shared between career educators, campus recruiters, and leaders on-line for the conversation;
First, recognize that things have changed (and, continue to evolve) rapidly. Own the uncertainty that comes with that. We actually don’t know yet when the COVID-19 pandemic will dissipate. Putting our heads in the sand or being diluted in our optimism will only have a negative outcome. To that end…
What are some of the hard truths we are facing as a community right now?
- Many of us are not accustomed to working from home and not being ‘live’ at events, student appointments/interviews, etc.
- Uncertainty about how to proceed as there are so many unknowns and decisions to be made.
- Concern for the mental well being of our students, staff, and stakeholders.
- Balancing multiple roles and hats – e.g. caregiver, teacher, leader, colleague, friend, parent, team member – can be hard.
- Personal health and safety – it can feel ‘risky’ to even venture to the grocery store.
In response to these, we need to act with intention, be honest about what we are experiencing both personally and professionally, and put a plan into place to maintain (and, perhaps even positively influence) our culture as we move forward.
What are some of the things we can be doing?
- Check-in often - daily huddles, regularly scheduled team meetings, e-mail, phone calls, and online chats, can be helpful in fostering connection. Reach out to colleagues, partners, and your leaders.
- Maintain some sense of normalcy wherever possible - greet each other and say goodbye as you normally would (only virtually), celebrate successes, continue to talk about and work towards goals/projects, coach and optimize performance, talk about things other than COVID-19.
- Leverage tools like Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Trello, com, GoTo Meeting, Blackboard, G-Suite, and Outlook to chat, engage, collaborate, and host events.
- Be patient, kind and empathetic - we all have different roles to play, challenges, comfort levels, pressures, and outside influences at any time, but particularly right now. Try to be as mindful, open, communicative, and helpful as we can.
- Model and adopt as much trust, accountability, flexibility and adaptability as you can - there is a lot on the go and things are changing quickly right now. A give and take approach can help everyone to feel empowered, cared for, and on track. We all need to recognize that there is work still to be done, but how you get there might have a different look/feel to it.
- Have fun - ice breakers, fun challenges, team-building over virtual coffee breaks or cocktails, themes for team meetings, celebrating birthdays/milestones in creative ways, and laughter can all be effective ways to come together and build connection.
- Address or do your best to avoid cultural pitfalls - seemingly ominous subject lines, lack of context or transparency, curt messages, consistently putting things off or on hold, not recognizing that things have changed, or failing to deliver what we say we will can all be a negative influencer on culture, particularly right now. If they occur, own it and make changes. Missteps happen. But, try to avoid them altogether.
- Recognize our own agency and the role you play in shaping the culture of your teams and organizations.
Let’s keep the conversation going in the CACEE LinkedIN Group and on the CACEE Twitter Feed. And, be sure to sign up for the next CACEE Connect – Virtual Roundtable on April 3, 2020, from 12:00 – 12:45 PM ET. We will be tackling the question- “How Are You Transitioning Your Recruiting and Career Services Models to Fit a Virtual World?”.
We’re all in this together! Building on wisdom gleaned from lessons in Disney’s Frozen 2 – one aspect of life we can control right now is our focus on “doing the next right thing” for ourselves, our families, our teams, and our organizations!
Until next week… Stay home. Wash Your Hands!