Over the past few weeks, it has been interesting to watch the world readjust to new ways of working. As change like this so often does, it has sparked a lot of conversation at OTRS Group about how and when we work as well as how we have evolved professionally through the years. What struck me about these conversations was how much learning our team members have done and how much knowledge there is to share simply based off of personal experience.
This prompted me to dig a little deeper with a few of our team members, because I think there are some useful pieces of advice here that can help you during times of transition too.
It’s hard for anyone to balance work and life, but once you have a child, it can be even more challenging. Any tips on making it work?
The first advice I would give is, if somehow possible, do a job that you really love so that it does not feel like work. Second, try to do a job with flexible work times and locations. Third, never feel less valuable because you work part-time or have to stay home more often with your kid. Innovative and smart companies adapt to those needs to keep their employees happy.
– Saskia Stähle-Thamm, Globale PR Manager –
As a mom of two, did the transition to having a second child change things in your professional life? Any advice for people at this stage of life?
When I think about it, I don’t think it really makes a difference whether you have one or two children. Being a working mom is all about the ability to organize yourself. So no, the decision to have a second child has not influenced my professional life. But it is also clear that the best self-organization is of no use if you don’t work in an environment that offers the right conditions. Flexible working hours and the home office are, of course, two important components in this context; but even more important is that the team, the company, and the management live a corporate culture in which the compatibility of work and family life does not just happen on paper, but is a lived reality.
In my opinion, it is also secondary whether you are a working mother or a working father. In the end, it is about being a parent and not having to decide permanently between your job and your family. My only advice is: When choosing a potential employer, make sure that this culture is actually lived, then everyone will benefit. Your family from well-balanced parents, and your employer from a motivated and balanced employee.
– Kathrin Triebel, Senior Manager Global Human Relations –
As a member of the subsidiary in Asia, you work with people from many countries that each have very individual cultures. Any words of advice about building relationships in a multi-cultural setting?
With a multicultural setting in Asia, building relationships requires open-mindedness and an adaptive strategy. It is best to practice conscious mindfulness, soft skills and interpersonal skills to make a ‘partnership’ or relationship work.
The communication approach extended that has been useful for me in APAC is to understand how an individual express topics. Then, we find a balance that results in a harmonious conclusion, solution, or environment.
– Daphne Sim, Sales Manager APAC –
Second is to – whenever possible – work with your natural rhythms.Rachel Minihan, Director Global Marketing OTRS Group
You have a leading global role and two teenage kids at home. How do you manage these two worlds? What advice would you give to other mums who strive for a leadership role?
The first two were told to me many years ago, and the last one took a lot of practice to accept. First is that the more closely your professional and personal personas match one another, the simpler your life becomes: Just be yourself everywhere, and you’ll have less stress.
Second is to – whenever possible – work with your natural rhythms. Figure out the times when you have peak focus: Use those for deep thinking tasks. Figure out the time when you get lethargic: Use those for exercise. The more aware you can become about how and when you work best, the better able you are to align the needs of your work and life with this. Of course, being allowed to do so still comes back to the whole notion of finding the right company culture to support what you need.
Third, never be afraid to need or ask for help – personally or professionally. We all have to sometimes, and you’ll find that by and large people rise to the challenge when you need them to. And, quite honestly, you’ll probably end up with a better outcome if you seek help.
– Rachel Minihan, Director Global Marketing –
In today’s business world, many people relocate internationally to take on new professional adventures. As someone who has done that, do you have any advice or tips to offer?
My advice would be that, after committing to relocate internationally, just take one day at a time and be as open as possible to both opportunities and setbacks. Also, remember that home is wherever you are as long as you create and maintain your relationships. Other than this, enjoy the ride!
– Romina Castañeda, Finance –
It is simply to listen, to ask the right questions, to understand the thinking of the person and the problem before taking action or making a decision.Gabriele Brauer, VP Finance OTRS Group
As you grew into a leadership role, what was the best advice you ever received about how to tackle the job well?
Actually, it is not really advice that I got; it is more the experience that I gained over many many years and through a lot of personal reflection (about myself). After going through different phases of being a leader for more than 10 years, I am at a different point now.
I used to be the expert in all the different jobs of my team, so whenever they had a question, I told them how it worked . Now I have more and more experts on my team who have a lot more special knowledge about their work than I could ever have. It is my job as a leader to give them the directions, the overall idea, to initiate the discussions, foresee consequences and make the decisions at the end.
So coming back to your question about the most helpful “tool” to tackle my job well, it is simply to listen, to ask the right questions, to understand the thinking of the person and the problem before taking action or making a decision. This helps to have respectful communication; it brings us to better solutions; and it helps the members of my team to grow.
I feel more like an orchestra conductor who has an idea how the piece of music should sound and who knows about all the different instruments that are needed for the piece. I have to give all the different players the right impulse to play their instruments in the way needed for the piece, together with all other instruments. It is a real challenge and sometimes hard work in daily practice, but I love my orchestra and the sound of the piece is my joy.
– Gabriele Brauer, VP Finance –
Interesting to see the common threads that run through all of these responses. Having a work environment that supports you, working hard, practicing good communication skills and leaning on your team members seem to be the keys to making work and life blend, regardless of your professional level or personal situation. I certainly would agree with those sentiments and enjoy my role in helping to build such a culture at OTRS Group.