Monday, February 2nd, 2015 | 7 min read
Remember how in high school everyone would get really excited for a school dance or house party? Your friends would be buzzing about the event for weeks or even months beforehand; in fact, it was all anyone could talk about.
That’s kind of how it felt leading up to the Women in Enterprise Social Forum – the inaugural event of the Sprinklr Customer eXperience Management Series – held a few weeks ago at the Sprinklr NYC offices. We couldn’t wait to see what would happen when we put a group of super-smart women in one room to talk about customer experience management, social media and excelling as a woman professional in today’s always-on workplace.
The featured panelists included Beverly Jackson, Head of Social Marketing at Yahoo; Linda Descano, Managing Director and Global Head of Content & Social at Citi; Ekaterina Walter, Global Evangelist at Sprinklr; and Elizabeth B. Closmore, Global Head of Product Evangelism, Strategy + Partnership at Sprinklr. Heather Read, Sprinklr’s Director of Social as a Service, moderated the discussion.
The participants packed a lot of insights into 60 minutes; here are some of the most compelling takeaways from the Forum.
“Women, help other women; avoid using the negative language by which we ourselves have been judged.” – Elizabeth B. Closmore
Ekaterina Walter pointed out that mentorship does not have to be restricted to a top-down dynamic, with a senior employee mentoring a promising up-and-comer. Junior women can mentor and support senior employees as well, which Ekaterina called “reverse mentorship”.
Make a habit of thinking about how you can give back in your professional relationships, even if you are the mentee. Reciprocity is key to forming long-lasting, mutually-beneficial professional (and personal) relationships.
Participants also talked about how mentorship can flourish in group settings. Forming small support groups with several women from your company can be a great way to multiply the benefits of mentorship and foster camaraderie. Some companies, like Citi, have formal mentorship programs, but if your company doesn’t have one in place you can encourage mentorship by initiating regular reviews with your manager (or direct reports).
The panelists emphasized the importance of empowering people on your team by acknowledging their expertise in certain areas and knowing who can best handle different types of tasks. Also, it’s important for leaders to be humble and reach out to their teams for support – don’t be a micromanager, and don’t try to do everything yourself.
“(Leadership) is about knowing when to step in, but also giving people the opportunity to try and succeed.” – Linda Descano
The panelists also talked about the benefits of managers holding informal one–on-one meetings with their direct reports, either by going for coffee outside the office or “walk and talks” around the block or company campus. This creates opportunities for talking about issues or conflicts that need to be addressed quickly, and it encourages mentorship and reverse mentorship.
Often the idea of a flexible work policy is categorized as a product of the millennial generation or as something that mostly benefits women with children. In reality, as the Forum panelists pointed out, flexible work policies are relevant to everyone living and working in the 21st century, regardless of gender or age.
“Flexible work life isn’t a woman’s problem or a millennial problem, it’s an everyone problem that applies across generations.” – Linda Descano
In our always-on, hyper-connected, hyper-global work environments, empowering employees with the flexibility to shift their work schedule to accommodate their lifestyle and personal commitments can be a huge asset to both companies and employees. In fact, employees who are allowed to adjust their work schedule are reported to be 55% more engaged with their work than those who can’t.
How can employees and companies successfully implement flexible work policies and avoid potential pitfalls?
The panelists suggested setting yourself up for success by working directly with your supervisor to establish expectations about how the flexible work policy will play out day-to-day. Determine what type of work needs to be done at the office or between typical work hours, and what portion of your responsibilities is more adaptable.
Know when to bring your A game to the table and when a B+ is just good enough, because perfection is overrated. – Linda Descano
Work-life balance is one of those topics that people never stop talking about, and for good reason – it’s incredibly important for our always-on work environments, and it’s incredibly hard to get right.
The Forum panelists suggested using your calendar to block out time for things that are important to you, like exercise or spending time with family. Managers can set an example for their teams by respecting boundaries when it comes to their own personal time and not letting work interfere.
One of the biggest challenges around work-life balance is managing the feeling that you’re missing out on something important if you’re not present for a meeting or after-work happy hour. You’ll probably continue to feel this way on some level throughout your career, but it’s important to keep in mind that your peers have similar feelings and that work-life balance is essential to maintaining long-term momentum in your career.
You can’t move up if you can’t let go. – Beverly Jackson