The Value of One’s Presence: Leadership, Teamwork, and Everything in BetweenEmployee Journals
Early this year, 2021, I started listening to podcasts every morning just to start the day with the proper mindset. One morning, I came across an anonymous thought for the day and it’s never left my brain ever since: “Become the type of energy that no matter where you go, or where you are, you always add value to the spaces and lives of those around you.”
More than seven years ago, I was looking to shift careers from the BPO industry to somewhere different — no particular company or position in mind. I just hoped to work for a company where I can acquire more knowledge and skills, work with a group, and hopefully contribute something valuable. Let’s just say that I’m more on the flexible end, I didn’t really have a calling.
After browsing job openings and asking for recommendations, I was fortunately hired in October 2014 and became part of a team of great individuals handling coaching and assessment for specialized modules in RareJob Philippines, Inc. I was able to handle operational tasks, speaking test evaluations, and quality checks. However, as the company expanded its services, organizational movements became a need and in 2017, I was selected to become part of a new team, the Assessment Development Team. It was also at the latter part of that same year when I was promoted as the team’s supervisor.
The Assessment Development Team (ADT) is in charge of the research, development, and monitoring of initiatives focused on language learning and assessment. We are usually involved in the research and development stages of projects focused on students’ learning and progress. On a typical day, ADT is busy conducting research, developing tools, monitoring student assessments, and meeting for important discussions.
Given the nature of the team’s tasks, it is normal for one to think that the members gather in a conference room to discuss concepts found during research and conduct brainstorming in a quiet area — like those people you see in business stock photos. That’s the ideal situation but, 2020 came with a huge storm in its bag (yes, the COVID-19 pandemic) and suddenly, everyone had to find a safe spot: our homes. RareJob shifted from office-based work to home-based work and with this, all of the teams’ processes had to be converted from offline to online.
We have been working remotely for almost two years now and it was not an easy-breezy journey transitioning to this setup. The first few months of the COVID-19 lockdowns were probably the most challenging months of my life as a supervisor. Apart from the transition to telecommuting and revising our processes and tools, we were also hiring and onboarding more people to become part of the team. The team’s online dynamics were my number one concern because we were so used to having face-to-face meetings and water cooler conversations at the office. There was that bothersome feeling that I may end up being less effective in leading the team and handling our projects.
Fast forward to 2021, one thing that I realized was essential is staying connected — literally and figuratively. While internet connection is life in telecommuting, staying connected with people has become more and more critical in the success of workgroups in this setup. I strongly believe in the idea of having a support system in all of life’s aspects. It helps alleviate the pressure brought about by workloads, deadlines, and expectations. It assures people that, yes, work can be difficult, but there is support out there. As leaders, I believe we should advocate that asking for help or support is human; it does not take away parts of one’s individuality.
To stay connected, I conduct online check-in meetings with my members to know how they are doing and where they need support. We also hold regular meetings or simple kumustahan sessions just to catch up with one another. If time permits, we facilitate workshops to cultivate the team’s skills further. At the same time, my members, manager, and other colleagues also check in on me periodically. I appreciate those moments a lot for they give me a boost of motivation.
Speaking of online meetings, just last December 3, RareJob Philippines held its virtual year-end party via Zoom. The party’s theme was “RJPH E-scapade Virtual Tour” and it inevitably made people miss traveling, myself included. It was the company’s second time to hold a virtual party and it was as enjoyable as the first time (thanks a lot to the organizers). I had fun participating in the party games, watching the vlog competition entries, and waiting for my name to be called during the major raffle draws.
But, there’s one more highlight at this year-end party that I will never forget. The RareJob Employee Awards is an annual event to recognize employees for their loyalty, dedication, performance, and contribution to the company. In this part of the event, I was fortunate to have been given the Professional Development Excellence Award for the year 2021. This award is conferred to supervisors for their contributions to the company in terms of team leading, project management, and professional growth. Apart from being this year’s recipient, I also happened to be one of the finalists in 2020 for the same award.
Receiving the highest form of recognition in the company is one thing but being able to inspire and influence others to continue doing their best is another. Truthfully, I still am a work in progress. I look forward to improving myself and learning every single day, and RareJob has given me more than enough chances and opportunities for growth. So to you who have reached this point in this quite lengthy journal, and to you who aim for that professional excellence: empower yourself by empowering others.
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