Reflections from the Agile Communication Age

I don’t have to tell you we are living in unprecedented times. But we’re coping. Caring for our children, parents and relatives at the same time. Taking 15-minute virtual coffee breaks with colleagues over MS Teams. Celebrating birthdays over FaceTime. Balancing family space with office space. Learning as we go. I have taken so much in during these last few weeks. I want to share with you the lessons I have gathered on the job, with my family and from my peers, mentors and friends. First and foremost is the importance of communication and staying connected.  

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At SAP, we’re fortunate to have the technology and tools to respond proactively to fluid situations. I would even say the transition some companies faced into home office was not as difficult for us because of initiatives already in place. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t had to reach out to each other to stay in touch. This experience has been a reminder that we have to keep our lines open and try to keep your existing rituals just in a new way. So instead of meeting at the SAP coffee corners my team and I are taking virtual coffee breaks together every morning. What do we talk about? The same stuff we would around the office. I’d like to mention, that break time is important to our well-being, it increases creativity it gives you energy. Especially now, seeing familiar faces, smiling, and laughing with each other is precious. This COVID-19 time has been a reminder for me of the importance of informative and honest communication. Agile communication which I have been ramping up at SAP HR over the past two years has become the “new” normal. (Thanks @RonDelaCruz for giving me this KitKat just before the lockdown started!)

Agility

Just like many of you, I have had to shift my schedule around to accommodate leadership huddles, COVID-19 taskforce meetings, Remote Work Pulse survey meetings, virtual coffee calls and family needs – just to name a few. Now, more than ever, everything needs to be delivered immediately. In just a little over 48 hours we produced a mobile friendly platform for employees and managers at SAP with COVID-19 information (Incredible thanks to @RoccoGiuliano & @TobiasJoest). It is accessible from anywhere in the world and on any device. We also opened up an MS Teams channel for all of HR to share information worldwide immediately – making us the largest group in SAP to open an MS teams group (special thanks to @DanielGruener) with approx. 2000 people. Information empowers each individual to be a decision maker. While I have been a leader who has been leveraging agile communication methodologies during crisis situations before, now more than ever I’d like to share that it takes trust, empathy and empowerment too. 

Mutual Trust

With everything going on, there is nothing more important than trusting each other to do what is right. Everyone on our team has been taking on new or additional responsibilities. Putting faith in one another is key to working in an agile way. Because teamwork is built on a foundation of trust and leads to successful results. To put it simply, it is about empowering others. This is not new to our current crisis but I’d like to share with you that it is what really makes a difference when your team members feel and know their importance and know they can work flexibly.  

Empathy 

We are doing our best to infuse empathy in all of our communication assets- not easy. As priorities shift, now more than ever it is important to communicate with compassion, warmth, and support. Relevant information takes priority and try to minimize information overload. I know how much of a challenge this is, but it is necessary because of our different situations. Some of us are looking after parents, others are looking after our children, some are doing both. Some of us are alone so that FaceTime birthday party means more than others can imagine. We need to keep all of these scenarios in mind as we communicate. We are implementing initiatives such as the Remote Pulse Survey from Qualtrics to understand how everyone is doing. As we receive feedback, we are adjusting course and implementing changes. 

We Are in This Together

The reassuring feeling I hold on to at the end of the day is that we are all in this together. My daughter’s school in Schwetzingen, Germany has had to shift as well. They are holding classes on MS Teams and working throughout this quarantine time to provide the best education possible. A special thank you and shout out to the teachers and schools taking a leap of faith and leveraging digital technology to support our children. Their channels of communication have adapted. This crisis stretches from one side of the globe to the other. With all of us tied in together, I am optimistic that we can overcome this challenge “together”. 

How am I looking at the situation?

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What is working in your organization or team during this time? I’d love to virtually network on this topic- there is no textbook out there for what we are experiencing right now. #StayHealthy!