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From all of our home offices, WNS-Denali team members are celebrating the achievement of being named a “Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Top Workplace for 2020.” The recognition of being a great place to work in the current times feels extra special, especially as our teams come together to demonstrate resilience and help our clients HyperSurge from the crisis.
We have collaborated to discover new ways of working together. We remain focused on supporting each other while adapting to new processes, projects, and challenges outside of work. I’ve always said that culture is more than ping pong tables and happy hours on a Friday afternoon. While we certainly have those when we are together in the office, the real heart of a team’s culture shines during both good and challenging times. Celebrating wins is a core component of our culture. We do this often through quarterly employee awards and recognition programs. But the real success of our culture is how band together to overcome challenges when something goes wrong.
Culture, at the end of the day, is about the everyday interactions and conversations that help team members feel safe, heard, cared about and seen as their unique selves. Culture cannot be forced or contrived- it just doesn’t work that way. Personally, I love seeing the passion that we bring not only to procurement and serving clients, but importantly to build strong relationships with each other. When you have a winning culture, though, everyone feels it.
If you are looking for ways to foster and build an award-winning team culture, I will share a few tips that have helped us along the way.
On a quest to build the perfect team, Google embarked on a study to discover the qualities that build successful teams. The groups included people from different backgrounds and job roles. They all came together for a common cause. The study results found that the number one factor of a successful team was psychological safety, which means team members can feel safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other. To encourage this depth and sense of safety in sharing ideas, thoughts and experiences, it’s important to get to know each other. A simple tip to start improving psychological safety in your culture is to start the meetings with icebreakers. In our latest Procurement Pro-Tip Series video about hosting engaging virtual meetings, our training team members shared some helpful icebreaker ideas, including:
Tell us something most people don’t know about you:
This question provides a chance to learn more about each other. E.g., I was Lifeguard in high school and college - this is something you may not know about your co-worker and you can bond about if you enjoy swimming or had a similar experience
2 Truths and a Lie:
Everyone takes a turn sharing two truths and one lie, which also helps you get to know someone. Example: I went Skydiving, I know Karate, I’m fluent in German – the group then decides what’s true and you can share a fun fact about your experiences
If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation right now – where would it be and why?
If you could have one Superpower:
What would it be and why? E.g., Power to Heal – so we could get rid of COVID-19 for good
Bring a Photo:
Bring a special photo to share with the group – the photo can be anything of meaning and you explain why that picture or memory is important to you
In advance, the meeting/training leader can request a baby picture from the group. Then, they show the pictures as a slide show, and everyone guesses who the baby is in the picture.
In addition, we also host team huddle meetings to share updates, milestones, accomplishments and discuss future ideas or problems to solve together. To dive deeper, we host monthly meetings where team members get to share tips, advice, and lessons learned from their projects. Curiosity is a key trait that we foster – whether it be about learning about our jobs or each other. The goal is to ensure everyone is always growing, learning, and overcoming obstacles as a team.
Team members work better together after having a shared experience, especially if the event is centered around giving back. Our Culture Club organizes events throughout the year for our team members to donate to relief funds, volunteer their time at a local food bank, guest lecture in college classrooms, host a recycling drive, adopt families during the holidays, and do hands-on community service.
In addition, our Culture Club brings employees together for celebrations, including Cinco de Mayo, Holi (Festival of Colors), Chinese New Year, Fat Tuesday, St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween and Christmas. As a global company, we also find ways to celebrate international holidays to experience a variety of cultures and collaborative opportunities through WNS Cares Foundation. Other shared experience opportunities when we were in the office together included:
White Elephant gift exchange
Quarterly beer exchanges
Chili & soup cook-offs
Pumpkin carving contests
A Pittsburgh Bowling event
A family-night at the Pittsburgh Pirates stadium
A monthly assignment of cleaning out the refrigerator – yes, even this clean-up task brought us closer together!
When we temporarily closed our office and moved to remote working, we hosted a step contest. We developed teams to see which group could have the highest number of walking (or running) steps for the length of the contest. The friendly competition and updates encouraged everyone to exceed their goal – together! Our Culture Club continues to share ideas for shared experiences in a virtual world so that we stay connected – even from our home offices.
Flexibility is a common theme in our culture. We believe employees perform their best when they have a healthy work-life balance. Lately, we have focused on talking more about mental health – and the importance of taking breaks, caring for yourself, asking for help, and leaning into others to get through hard times brought on by the global pandemic. In fact, we created an internal website that shares updates related to Covid-19 and a mental health care kit for our team members to reference for inspiration.
One of the key principles that we instill through our leadership programs is “encouraging open dialogue.” We value this approach as a first step to understanding each other, listening to other viewpoints, brainstorming, and having difficult conversations. If we can continue to encourage open conversations, no matter what the environment, we will keep the foundation that builds a strong people-oriented culture.
Remember, your culture will always be organic – not forced. Your culture is a natural and truthful experience that all employees are experiencing daily. Invest in changes or share new ideas that bring you closer to that environment that celebrates and encourages everyone – in both good and bad times.
Head, Global Talent Management
Bobbi Battista leads Global Talent Management for Procurement Services at WNS-Denali. Bobbi has more than two decades of experience in training and professional development, leadership development, staffing and recruiting, as well as consulting and client delivery- all within the procurement and supply chain industry. Prior to Denali, she held management roles at FreeMarkets, Ariba and various other consulting firms.