• Cat Graham

The Power of Squad and Employee Engagement

Updated: Mar 18, 2020

As a working adult, like most of us, I make strong bonds with colleagues I work well with. When I have changed jobs, I try find out who I know that works there and consider if they are someone I might want to work with again. This has been a trend in my career. My first boss left Bank of Boston and recruited me to work with her at Arthur Anderson. A colleague from Cohn & Wolfe recommended me to Ruder Finn, and her opinion mattered. There are both positives and negatives to working with the same people over and over again. The pitfall to avoid is that by only working with your squad, you won’t get to stretch your thinking or perspective with diverse voices throughout your career.

Consciously choosing squad to include new and diverse people is a good way of knowing you have someone you can collaborate well with while working to embrace new team members. While squad matters, hiring for diversity is the only way you will strengthen your knowledge and thinking to get the best results possible. If you do the same thing all the time you will get the same results. With a strong footprint of your base of squad, you are more likely to embrace new diverse voices and studies show you will be more inclusive.

Interestingly, Lisa Fedrizzi, our Managing Director of HR and Talent, and I have worked together several times over the last twenty years. When I first met Lisa, she was an assistant in the healthcare practice of Cohn & Wolfe, where I was SVP of Talent and HR globally. I knew Lisa was bound for bigger things, and when I moved to Ruder Finn in the same role, I brought Lisa over to our HR department. We accomplished a great deal together in my first tour of duty there, and really improved the level of service and development for all staff on a global level. When I left Ruder Finn I returned to consulting for a software company, I recruited Lisa to join my team at Clever Devices. In the interim, after I left Ruder Finn she left too, and worked for my mother’s company which I often pitched in on. Then I started Cheer Partners, where she now leads two of our practice areas and serves as HR for our internal team. We have hired and trained great teams over the years and have built inclusive cultures where people were expected to challenge consensus and drive new thinking for everyone. There are many people I have hired multiple times or brought to an organization I worked at. I believe everyone reading this has similar stories.

One thing is true, just as people don’t quit jobs they quit managers, people work with former colleagues because they know it will positively shape their employee experience.

Most jobs are found through each person’s network. Employees often get bonuses to refer candidates to open positions. When you know you share the same values, ethics, and dedication to the purpose of the work, you tend to feel supported in a new opportunity. Consider how you treat your employees and their experience because they will attract their squad, and conversely deter their squad if they are not well engaged. I look forward to continuing to grow Cheer Partners with new and interesting team members, with the foundation of my current squad I know we can create great experiences together.