This article was originally published by Andrew Foster, CFA on LinkedIn on 13 April 2021. Republished here with permission.
A couple of years ago, I interviewed someone for a role. Subsequently, they accepted, and we welcomed them into the bank. I am always curious as to why someone accepts a role. Asking “why did you decide to join us?” helps me refine my interview approach. After all, when you interview, you are selling a place to grow and develop, and when you observe, you are equally being observed.
The answer surprised me.
I saw the red stroller in the corner of your office and knew that family life would be considered here.
For context, at this time, I took my daughter to preschool each Monday before heading into work with the folded stroller. I am in no way claiming that this is anything close to an even burden of childcare and certainly wouldn’t have thought anyone noticed.
The experience got me thinking – what signals do we send in the workplace? How do we attract people to work with us, and how do we retain them?
“Every conversation is actually two conversations going on at once” – Nick Morgan, Power Cues.
The “second conversation” that Nick Morgan refers to is the one beyond the spoken word. It includes tone of voice, body language, and other signals that we send out to the listener. The unconscious conversation is far more challenging to influence.
The sign that I work in a great place came in the form of a photo.
Returning to work after a maternity break was a stressful event in my life. During my maternity, a lot changed, including the office location. Taking advantage of the move, my supervisor requested a nursing room (lactation room) complete with a refrigerator at the new site. Two weeks before my return, I received a photo of the new nursing room.
Looking back, I credit my return to full-time work to my manager’s act of kindness and thoughtfulness. I hope to pay it forward to other women and men at the workplace.
Self-awareness is a significant first step in sending out the right signs. If we can follow it up with authenticity, empathy, and consistency, it will help all of us realize our potential.
My daughters are no longer in strollers, so now what? In a pandemic world, I drop them at school via car each day. In my diary, I have this blocked out as “drop off children at school”.
Perhaps that sounds obvious; however, I commonly hear from industry colleagues that they put dummy meetings in place when carrying out childcare commitments.
Look within your organization – if you are in a leadership role, what signals are you sending? What messages are others taking from your guidance?
As Garima said, are you being authentic and empathetic? After all, a happy, supported team is a productive team.
About the authors:
Garima Mamgain is Singapore-based marketing and strategy professional. She has worked with prominent consumer and business brands. Currently, she leads a critical marketing strategy initiative at a Fortune 500 company. Garima is passionate about driving diversity and inclusion. She volunteers with a non-profit – She Loves Data and is an active member of employee resource groups.
Andrew Foster is a Wall Street executive with a background in large-scale program delivery across London and New York. He specializes in building effective data teams in complex organizations that solve important business challenges. Andrew volunteers with the EDM Council’s Women in Data initiative and leads Affinity Group outreach.
This article was written in partnership with EDM Council Women in Data. Their mission is to provide support for and promote women in the field of data and assist in their development and promotion to more senior roles. Membership is open to all at EDM Council Women in Data and on Linked In