Updated: Nov 29
Many years ago, while I was seven months pregnant with my now 22-year-old (and had a 3-year-old too), I received a call from a fantastic man named George Pine. He was President of ABC Radio Sales, a national Radio Representative under the umbrella of Interep.
He had heard my name through the grapevine and had a position he thought would be perfect for me.
1. I was not looking for a job.
2. I was very near my due date with what I believed would be the world’s most giant baby.
3. I had no interview clothing that fit over my bump
I explained all this to my new friend George. He went through each objection with fantastic charm. He was, shall we say, RELENTLESS.
I finally agreed to meet him for a coffee at the Palm Beach Airport (it turns out that, like many folks, he had an apartment in Florida)
I loved George from our first hello. He was terrific and very convincing. Plus, he had a special surprise for me - If I accepted this job, I would get to work from home.
WHAT? I had never worked from home. Ewww-I would be lonely and isolated.
· How would I concentrate?
· Where would I work? (it ended up being from a desk in my bedroom!)
· How many days in a row can I eat a Turkey Sandwich for lunch??
George told me it would be great - so I said yes (and the money was good too)
The job was very complicated, but I thought that it would be a good challenge. Have I ever mentioned my love for the impossible?
Take 50 Radio Disney (AM stations) and figure out how - with no signals or ratings - you could increase national sales. I do not want this to turn into a Radio blog, though, so let’s just say I needed that love of the impossible and some extra love for Mickey, Minnie, and (because it was the early 00s) Hannah Montana.
The lessons I learned from George and Radio Disney have reappeared in a BIG way during the last two years.
Just a Sample:
1. The time you save NOT chatting in the coffee room allows you the time to kiss your babies when they get home from school.
2. My best work is at 7:30 am - So I did the hard work early and saved the routine stuff for later.
3. I concentrate better in silence.
4. One-on-one conversations with teammates on the phone often lead to more understanding than being in a meeting with a crowd that’s fighting for attention.
5. I was able to secure more one-on-one time where I had my manager’s full attention- they could not be looking at their phone-they were already talking on them (of course, this was before the ability to use lots of technology simultaneously).
If you are a manager, leader, CDO, or CEO, it might be just the right time to ask your employees what they have learned and accomplished while working at home…Before you make them return to a schedule that includes every day in the office.
‘Getting back to normal’ may squander an opportunity for growth.
When planning how your team will resume working together, have you used the phrase “new normal” as if it’s some weak compromise you’ll have to live with?
Please don’t do that.
Acting as if getting back to normal is your ultimate goal may destroy the personal and professional growth folks have made while working from home offices.
Ask employees what pandemic workflow improvements should continue
Have your workers realized the benefits of virtual work that they now see as key to their ability to excel?
You almost certainly have employees who flourished these past years through significant effort on their part that they’re proud of. Let them share and continue doing what made them great during crazy times.
Set up one-on-one meetings with individual employees
How proactive are your efforts to touch base with each employee and address their problems and issues?
Coming back to the office can create a load of anxiety that, if addressed proactively, will take the pressure off all!
Avoid announcements such as:
“Great news; we’re now offering daycare three days a week!” You’ll serve employees far better with an approach closer to “We’ve been looking for ways to help our working parents participate more easily in collaborations at the office;
When employees understand from the start the underlying care and motive behind the action, you’ve instantly opened the conversation allowing honest dialogue and alignment to happen and trust to flow in both directions.
So back to the beginning…I spent over eight years working from the desk in my bedroom.
I learned so very much- created incredibly close relationships with coworkers, partners, clients, and Mickey Mouse. I figured out complex problems and imagined some of the most creative solutions from the quiet of the desk in my bedroom. But most of all, with the help of a babysitter par excellence, I was able to hear the garage door open and greet my beautiful children with a kiss when they got home every day.
Oh yes, one more thing within the first two years, we raised the national revenue of Radio Disney by 1100 percent - yeah, this stuff works!
I would simply love to chat with you about your return to office-Reach out today to Sharon@TeamKatandmouse.com, and don’t forget to visit our Team Kat & Mouse website and download a free report. On onboarding (or re-onboarding!)
And to be clear… The “Mouse” of Team Kat & Mouse fame has nothing to do with Mickey, in case some Disney lawyers were wondering.