A Cheer Partners Core Value in Action: Gratitude

A Cheer Partners Core Value in Action: Gratitude

 

Cheer Partners was thrilled to kick off our first annual Day of Service this year, held on the Monday after Thanksgiving. With gratitude being a company core value, it is important to us to provide paid time off for our people to give back to their local communities. As a remote but connected team, we were able to make an impact in multiple locations and in a variety of ways, from helping the homeless to preparing holiday gifts for children in need. Hear from each of our team members on their experience.

 

Aidan Willner, Associate, Employee Communications:

For Cheer Partners’ first annual Day of Service, I joined a group of team members at Island Harvest, an organization providing food and services for people who are hungry, and a voice for people who are in need on Long Island. They have a multitude of incredible programs to service communities in different ways—all centered around food. Originally, I was expecting to be working in the warehouse packing up boxes for distribution, but an influx of volunteers around Thanksgiving had completed the bulk of that work. So, we instead assisted with organizing the seeds that will be delivered to the many sponsored gardens throughout Long Island. While sorting and organizing boxes of seeds with hundreds of plant species, we learned more about the garden program at Island Harvest. They help students learn how to garden in their own communities and at school, educating them on how to grow and cook food. This empowers young students, especially those whose families struggle to put food on the table. While we worked, we also got to hear stories about the students’ experience growing food and bringing some of it home to help feed their families which was incredible to learn about.

 

Ali Frischman, Senior Associate, Learning and Development, Executive Coaching

Why am I so passionate about learning and development? I live for feeling I get knowing I am equipping people with tools they need to better themselves. At our first annual Day of Service, I was able to know this feeling in a different way, volunteering at the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen in NYC. I was not serving food, though. Instead, I helped in the social services sector. Men and women of all ages entered the church hoping to seek the advice of a social worker, get a free haircut voucher to feel more presentable, or even just pick up toiletries. These people simply wanted to better themselves in even the most basic way, like taking care of their personal hygiene. I cannot tell you the number of people who approached me and, after I provided them with what they needed, thanked me from the bottom of their heart for my time.

This experience was immensely humbling and meaningful, and I plan to return well before next year’s Day of Service. I greatly appreciate the value Cheer Partners places on showing gratitude by giving back to the community.

 

Betsy Jacobs, Senior Talent Consultant:

This year I participated in Operation Christmas Child, which delivers more 130 million gift-filled shoe boxes to more than 150 different countries. We selected a boy and girl aged 10-14 and filled the empty shoe box with things that a child of that age may need, such as personal hygiene items as well as some fun toys and crafts. Having a child that age myself, it was hard for me to think of children around the world who don’t have even the basic necessities. I look forward to doing it again next year.

 

Carrie Goldstein, Managing Director and Team Lead, Employee Communications:

When I was little, my biggest source of comfort was a soft, stuffed animal. In fact, I loved stuffed animals so much that I had an “ET” closet filled with them. I passed this love onto my niece, who started the local chapter of a national organization called Stuffed Animals for Emergencies (SAFE). She often collects stuffed animals from her friends, but at this point has exhausted people to ask. I worked with the National SAFE organization and local businesses to request donations, clean the stuffed animals and deliver them where they are needed the most. I can’t imagine losing everything in a hurricane, a fire or other disaster and can only hope these new friends will bring a small measure of comfort and smiles to those who need it.

 

Cat Colella-Graham, Founder & Managing Partner:

As Island Harvest touches every zip code on Long Island, it is hard to believe that hunger affects every single community. From backpack programs so children can bring food home for the weekend to teaching children and veterans how to grow their own food, they provide direct services targeted at anyone at risk for food insecurity. We spent the day sorting donated packages of seeds with Hillary Hess, the Community Garden Coordinator, who is so dedicated to teaching anyone at any age to grow healthy food—even on a windowsill. They were so welcoming, and I would absolutely go back and spend more time there. A humbling and worthwhile day.

 

Darcie Peck, Managing Partner:

While my little town of Pound Ridge, NY prides itself on a pastoral feel, only once a year does the whole community come together on an official town cleanup. As an avid walker, I do not feel that this is nearly enough. So, on our community service day, I set out with my walking shoes, dog in tow, and a few garbage bags. Eyes peeled, I picked up cans, bottles, those clam shell packages left over from someone’s lunch, crinkled aluminium foil and countless other tidbits of garbage. Within two miles, my two bags were filled.

 

Olivia Graham, Senior Associate, Employee Communications, Marketing Lead:

It was only once I arrived at Island Harvest’s Hauppauge office that I remembered my high school had been involved with the organization a few years back. Team members and I arrived on Monday morning and were given a brief background on what Island Harvest does, where their centers or programs are currently, and then were given a tour of their warehouse. I hadn’t realized how many local stores donate their leftover merchandise or inventory to organizations like Island Harvest to redistribute. It’s easier around the holidays to remember that there are families in need, but I was really taken aback to hear about their “meals in schools” program which feeds students whose families are struggling to keep food on the table every day of the year. Our team was supposed to be helping sort inventory but was reassigned to seed sorting. There were hundreds of seed packets that get broken into categories and then sorted into boxes so that Island Harvest can distribute them to families who are then able to plant their own produce. This particular program is especially helpful for children who can feel like they can contribute to their family with something they have created themselves. We had a great time learning more about ways we can pitch in year round in our local communites.

 

Emily Miller, Talent and Social Associate:

I was very excited that we would be having a company-wide Day of Service. Community Service has long been a part of my life, and I was excited to give back! My initial plan had been to drive and walk around my community picking up garbage and doing anything I came across to help clean up my area. Unfortunately, Baltimore experienced a wild rain and wind storm, so all outside plans had to be tabled. My family and I were able to take advantage of the weather and still have a lot of fun giving back. We were able to collect a car full of bags from our house and our friends’ to donate to our local Salvation Army. We also stocked up on toiletries and brought them to my parents’ church where they are accepting donations for Jacob’s Well, a local hospice center. Finally, we were able to help repair a broken window for a neighbor, just in time for all of the bad weather! I think a Day of Service was a great bookend to Thanksgiving weekend, as it gave us the opportunity to reflect on everything we are thankful for, then give back in our areas in a variety of ways.

 

Lisa Fedrizzi, Senior Lead, Talent:

When I was younger, I volunteered every holiday to deliver hot meals to seniors in need. I never thought about where the food came from or who donated their time and money to these great programs. Getting to spend time at Island Harvest and seeing all of the great work they do for families in need on Long Island was humbling to say the least. Not only do they provide meals and essential toiletries for families, but they teach children and veterans how to grow their own food. We spent our time sorting seeds that would eventually be given to children to help them grow their own garden of vegetables and fruits for their families. Truly an amazing and heart warming experience.

 

Matthew Garawitz, Associate:

I have always loved giving back to my community, wherever that may be. In college, I was a member of the Alliance of Heroic Hearts, a group that brought inspiration and cheer to children with mental, physical and terminal disabilities. Now that I have graduated, I make an effort to give back to my hometown. Goodwill is a fantastic organization, working to strengthen lives and families with each donated good. I spent the weekend before our service day asking around to both my friends and family, gathering multiple bags of clothes and toys to be donated to our local Goodwill. The staff was so friendly and appreciative of our combined donations. It was a great feeling to know that instead of just throwing my old things away or burying them in my closet that someone was getting a warm jacket for the winter that they desperately needed.

 

We are proud to offer this benefit to our people, and look forward to next year’s Day of Service.

Cheer Spotlight: Meet Jennifer Ford, Brand Marketer, Digital Strategist, and Change Agent.

 

We are excited to introduce a new interview series profiling communications and marketing professionals.  For more information and the latest news and trends in talent, employee communications, HR Advisory & Marketing, subscribe to our Cheer Blog!

 

Social media is buzz-worthy, ever-evolving, and sometimes controversial; however, one thing is certain, it’s no longer an option but a necessary strategic tool that helps many successful brands and businesses excel.  However, according to a study on CEO.com, over 60% of CEOs and other C-Suite executives are still not actively utilizing social media as a communication channel.

We will be discussing “Why Leaders Need To Get Social.”  Joining the conversation is Jennifer Lewis-Ford, Vice President of Strategic Marketing and Digital Communications at BNP Paribas.  She specializes in digital communication and marketing strategy with a focus on digital adoption and coaching for executives.  She is also an avid podcaster and author who believes that social media should be at the heart of every firm’s digital transformation.

Why should social be at the heart of digital transformation?  

Digital transformation is affecting every industry, financial services included.  From Chat-bots to AI, everyone is looking at technology to find new ways to work faster and perform smarter.  While digital transformation means something different for every business, the one thing that all businesses have in common is people.  I truly believe real digital transformation starts with building a culture that puts people first, then technology.  At heart, we are all social creatures; it is reported that 67% of Americans originally get their news from social media.  Equipped with the right social strategy, social media can aid and expedite digital transformation and turn employees into powerful advocates that inspire change.

Why do leaders need to get social?

Social Media creates new opportunities for companies now more than ever before – from business development and employee engagement, to talent recruitment: it needs to start from the top of the organization.  In a connected world where your biggest differentiator is talent, thought leadership becomes an essential strategy for organizations to stand out.  People, especially everyone’s favorite buzz word “millennials,” want to feel inspired by leadership and work for firms that are transparent with their values and culture.  I believe this is why content created by leaders in an organization is 8X times more likely to be shared than content created from a Company profile.

 

What are some of the concerns that executives have about social?

The concept of Social Media has vastly changed in the last few years, but perceptions haven’t.  So often when we are approaching thought leaders about activating a social strategy, we have to first change their perception.  For example, a lot of people naturally think “Facebook” when you say social media, and we know it has been in the news lately for the wrong reasons.  However, now getting social could be something as simple as starting an internal blog to connect and inform employees.  These blogs could take many forms: videos, podcasts, or long-form content, as long as there is a two-way dialogue for the executives and their audience.

Outside of that I am also a huge advocate of LinkedIn, as you can see from my photo.  I’m finding that LinkedIn is often underutilized in B2B firms – as most executives still view it as a recruitment or job search tool.  It’s actually a great platform for leaders to share authentic stories, expertise, and connect with clients and employees on a more human level.

 

What is some of the advice you would provide to an executive just getting started?

I think it all starts with a great strategy!  We know the importance of being active on social, but it’s equally important that you identify the right channel for your target audience.  Data is one of the best things about social media marketing!  We now have massive access to social data that can help provide deeper insights into the right vehicle and the kind of content that would be most impactful for your clients.

Outside of having a great social strategy, my next piece of advice: be real.  Speak to what you know, what you’ve learned, or what inspires you.  That is the kind of content that drives authentic connections.

 

Why do you consider yourself a change agent?

I spend a large amount of time trying to inspire change and shift traditional mindsets in favor of new technology and social media in general.  I like to challenge myself and others to not just think outside the box, but to break the box.  Innovation is inspired by learning and moments of change.

The Future of Employee Engagement

The Future of Employee Engagement

Recently, HR.com published a whitepaper in conjunction with Glint,  The State of Employee Engagement in 2018. What comes through loud and clear is that every organization wants engaged employees, (even if they have varying definitions), yet they do not know how to get there. And a full 90% of respondents to the Glint survey agree that there is solid evidence linking engagement to performance. In order to have engagement, employees must trust their leaders and closely connect with the company culture. Gallup’s 5 Ways to Improve Engagement Now cites their 2016 poll data, which directly links engagement to performance by looking across metrics of turnover, absenteeism and profitability. Their study reveals strong correlations between engagement and performance are highly consistent across different organizations and different industries.

Leadership’s role:

Leadership and culture have often been drivers of perceived engagement, but while this report suggests the majority of people view Employee Engagement as a leadership responsibility, less than half the respondents say their leadership makes Employee Engagement a priority, and only 28% said their managers are highly skilled at engaging individuals and teams. However, as the linkage between engagement and performance continue to grow, Employee Engagement is becoming more of a boardroom priority.

It’s easier in a smaller company to have a level of touch with everyone, hence the draw of the start-up. The high energy, all hands on deck, everyone in the know model is a draw because it offers all the transparency, dynamic team environment and intrinsic rewards the larger companies do not. As a leader in a start-up, it’s easy to know every staffer and what motivates them and it’s easy to communicate on a frequent basis. Transparency and communication are the hallmarks of companies with high levels of Employee Engagement. As companies grow larger, every leader develops their own leadership style and their own communication style. Even if the CEO communicates regularly to the staff through internal channels, the face to face experience of the everyday leader/manager will impact the level of engagement. Here is what every leader should do.

  • Know who your people are, not just what they do
  • Act, and react, deliberately and thoughtfully
  • Communicate the company’s mission and purpose, often
  • Include the team in approaching any project; their input and buy-in will increase effort
  • Cultivate a team with diverse approaches and encourage debate
  • Be actively present, beyond an open door policy
  • Engage as the leader of the team but equally as a member of the team

Emotional Intelligence:

Emotional Intelligence is an attribute some come with naturally, but others need to be consciously developing. Several studies have shown that managers, leaders and professionals of every level employees who have strong EQ succeed and are promoted more rapidly than those who don’t. But why is this? Shouldn’t ability and results be more of a critical success factor? While experience and ability matters, let’s try this experiment. Close your eyes, think of your favorite manager or think of your favorite co-worker. Think of the experiences that had with them. Were those experiences preferential to you because of their aptitude or their attitude? Did you enjoy working with them because of their work product, or the social interactions and connections you had with them? Chances are, it was the latter.  This has been explored in many research papers, including The relationship between emotional intelligence and work attitudes, behavior and outcomes. In this report, it is noted that Emotional Intelligence is responsible for more positive attitudes and outcomes. When a manager uses emotions in adaptive ways, including: flexible planning, creative thinking, connecting to the individual, motivating persistence and empathy, they have a greater influence than those who do not.  “Particularly, scholars have noted that social skills are essential for executive-level leaders; as individuals ascend the organizational hierarchy, social intelligence becomes an increasingly relevant determinant of who will and will not be successful.”

Here are some attributes of EQ that can help you drive engagement as a leader:

  • Relate to others
  • Consider open body language when interacting with your peers and staff-steer clear of body language that belies what you are trying to convey
  • Actively listen and get to know others point of view
  • Avoid interrupting at all times
  • Show empathy when something goes wrong
  • Actively find ways to partner with people, your staff and peers
  • Show genuine reactions; show your excitement, show your disappointment but also show you can bounce back
  • Be inquisitive
  • Be curious 

Culture:

People have different definitions of Employee Engagement because every culture is unique, and every organization has a different approach to an engaged workplace. In a recent HBR article, Six Components of Culture, they highlight six key influencers of culture: Vision, Values, Practices, People, Narrative, and Place. Successful companies instill values into their organization to engage employees and recruit and attract new talent. Culture reflects beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company’s employees and management interact with each other and manage their business. While organizational culter is often set by leadership, sometimes a company’s corporate culture is organic and develops over time from the cumulative traits of the people the company hires. Now more often than not, it is a deliberate expression of the type of community, behaviors and belief sets that a company wants to cultivate, as a corporate ecosystem. If you invest in the employee experience, and the purpose and values of your company are transparent and authentic, the health of your culture and your bottom line will rise.

Consider ways you can care for your culture:

  • Communicate your purpose and everyone’s role in supporting that purpose
  • Create reward and recognition programs that are peer to peer as well as manager to staff
  • Recognize and celebrate your unique approach and key differentiators
  • Encourage team wins and team play
  • Cultivate employee relationships
  • Be transparent
  • Share good news and bad news authentically internally first
  • Embrace autonomy
  • Be flexible

This research and more underscores the urgent priority organizations are placing in their transformation and in leveraging, reshaping and evolving their best people and their culture through employee engagement initiatives. In an article I wrote last year, How Do You Know if Your Employees Are Engaged? I share how to measure the engagement and discretionary effort in your company. The game will always be raised by other companies who are employee first in a public way, and by looking at all the ways you touch employees, from recruiting to onboarding, reviews and rewards, management approach, benefits and resources, and clear growth paths you can find an Employee Engagement strategy that fits your culture and organization.  Rewarding and encouraging your workforce is key to developing engaged employees and cultivating a connected culture. Sometimes you need to start with strategic intent and define your MVV and develop an open communication plan to support where you want your company to be. Once you know if you have an engaged workforce you can develop a smart program that amplifies your organization’s employee experience and meets your goals.  Experts agree: a sound employee engagement strategy will drive improved business results.

Women’s Month Series: Simple Lessons Learned for a Happier, More Productive Working Life

Cheer Partners welcomes you to celebrate Women’s History Month with us. All month we will be adding inspirational, thought-provoking and educational content on our blog so stop by often and enjoy!

Simple Lessons Learned for a Happier, More Productive Working Life

by Louise Harris,  Chief Marketing Officer at Orbis International

This women’s history month I want to celebrate not only the strong women who make a difference in the world and in our working lives but also the men who support them. Throughout my life and career, I’ve had many role models, both male and female, and I’ve gained valuable insight from them all in different ways.

Some of the lessons that I’ve learned and that I take with me today are to spend time with positive people, do good things and be inclusive. I’ve found these make for a happier and more productive work experience.

Spend time with positive people.

If you hang out with positive people you can’t help but mirror their behavior when you see how effective it is. I am conscious of how my behavior is seen by others on my team and that if I approach a challenge in a positive frame of mind, the results are much better. Without a positive attitude, it’s very easy to get dispirited and it rubs off and influences those around you. Spending time with positive people can give you an energy boost and usually results in better outcomes.

Do Good Things.

I’m very fortunate to be working in a non-profit organization that does well every day, bringing people together in the fight against avoidable blindness. We’re giving people their sight back In places where they have little or no access to quality eye-care and who would otherwise face a lifetime of darkness and missed opportunities. It’s meaningful work.

But you don’t need to work for a non-profit to do good things. It doesn’t take much to do good things on a daily basis. It could mean putting aside your own deadline to help someone else meet theirs, helping a junior member of staff learn a new skill or filling in for someone who’s going through a tough time or personal difficulty.

Be Inclusive.

In my role as the chief marketing officer at Orbis, I appreciate how important our internal culture is for our brand and why it needs to be a priority. How can you have a strong brand externally if it doesn’t start within the team?

We created a new vision, mission, and tagline to better align our organization with our strategic priorities. It was a collaborative process, collecting input from across the global organization. The process was very interesting, it elicited a huge amount of conversation, along with disagreements and some tension. But it resulted in something that everyone felt good about, felt a part of and could stand behind. It’s only when you talk to people that you realize that how you see an organization is rarely the way others see it. It depends on your viewpoint and your role. I found that being as inclusive as possible in this process was a positive way to drive the brand forward.

 

Women’s Month Series: Sponsorship and Closing the Women’s Leadership Gap

Cheer Partners welcomes you to celebrate Women’s History Month with us. All month we will be adding inspirational, thought-provoking and educational content on our blog so stop by often and enjoy!

Sponsorship and Closing the Women’s Leadership Gap

by Carolyn Vadino, Chief Communications Officer at Stroz Friedberg

March is a good month to reflect on women in the workforce, with International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8th ushering in important conversations and Women’s History Month keeping them going. I’ve made my career in an industry that is mostly dominated by women, especially in the junior ranks. Yet, even the public relations industry struggles to achieve gender equality at the top. While stats vary, some state that women make up 61 percent to 85 percent of all PR jobs, and while 59 percent of all PR managers are female, only 30 percent of all global PR agencies are run by women.[1] That leaves quite a gap in the diversity of the top ranks of PR leadership.

Earlier this month I participated in a great panel for IWD with several impressive women who work in the field. Many topics were discussed: our professional journey, mentorship and sponsorship, unconscious bias, diversity and inclusion, and whether we believed the workforce was better equipped today to support women, to name a few. The answers varied based on personal and professional experiences. Most of us have had mentors. Some of those mentors were male, some female. Less of the panelists had sponsors—I don’t think that is a coincidence.

A mentor is someone who can guide you through your career, provide advice, and be a sounding board. A sponsor is an advocate—this person is usually in a position of leadership and will actively help you advance your career and provide you with opportunity. Most sponsors are people in leadership positions. In the United States for instance, across most industries, there are more male leaders than female leaders even though women make up the majority of the workforce[2]. This is where unconscious bias may come into play and how just being a woman can work against you.

Unconscious bias can be an inclination for or against a group. Sometimes we subconsciously attract people who are like us. We can even reject people who aren’t. That can manifest in many ways. It could mean we are more comfortable working with (or mentoring/sponsoring) someone who looks like us, someone who went to the same University, someone who was part of the same fraternity or sorority, or someone who participated in the same sports or who grew up in the same region. Familiarity can provide comfort, but it can also lead to lack of diversity in thought and leadership.

There are several things we can do, as potential sponsors and those seeking sponsorship, to help push for progress for women in the workforce in March and beyond.

Commit to sponsoring a woman. It is important that organizations of all sizes create sponsorship programs for their workforce. It’s equally important for professionals, regardless of title, to recognize their own unconscious bias and work to counter it. If you are in a position of leadership, sponsor at least one junior female at your organization and advocate for her through quality assignments and opportunity. If your organization doesn’t have a formal sponsorship program, be the advocate for Human Resources to start one.

Challenge your thinking. If you aren’t in a position to be a sponsor, but can be a mentor, or have influence over work assignments (or people who hand out the assignments), think about how you share your time and how you assign projects. Challenge yourself to provide work to others that will help them stretch their skills, play to their strengths, advance their career, or increase their visibility among key leaders that can become their sponsors. Then publicly applaud them when they do a good job. Often it can take just one project to provide the right exposure that changes the course of someone’s career.

Ask a mentor. If you already have a mentor and don’t have a sponsor, see if he or she is in a position of leadership and can sponsor you. Have a thoughtful conversation about what sponsorship entails and ask that person if he or she would be (or could be) willing to advocate for you and your professional development. Be sure to deliver on any opportunities they present to you.

Build relationships to create sponsorship opportunities. If you don’t have a sponsor or a mentor, take a hard look at your leadership team and start to build relationships with the right people who can introduce you to potential sponsors. If you are junior and you don’t have access to senior leaders, try and establish relationships with mid-level influencers who can make introductions on your behalf or advocate for you behind the scenes.

It is important for all of us, regardless of where we are in our career, to think about our role as a mentor and whether or not we could be someone’s sponsor. It’s also important to recognize our own unconscious bias. Think about the last time you advocated for someone who didn’t look like you or the last time you actively sought to build a working relationship with someone that has a different background. Long after the conversations and hashtags from IWD and Women’s History month fade, the knowledge shared this month can spur action to help effect real change —whether it’s through personal sponsorship, asking for a sponsor, or talking about how sponsorship can help your organization in closing the women’s leadership gap.