Q&A with Lise Morgan | Operations Manager at AVirtual

In October 2020 Helene and Avril did four sessions with 10 AVirtual and Prime Pixel team leads, which we call Pod Leaders. 

Both companies have amazing remote working cultures that were established long before COVID-19 hit, and they’re constantly working to improve it. This is what Lise had to say about the training:

Tell us a bit about AVirtual, your Pod Leaders and why training was required: 

As a business, we provide remote virtual support and digital marketing services to international clients as well as clients in South Africa.

The company has gone through periods of growth and we have implemented various changes in terms of how we operate on a day to day basis. During this period, we were unable to effectively focus on culture and creating a more engaging environment.

All our employees are allocated to a team (pod) when they start with the company. The pods are led by Pod Leaders and this position has evolved as the company has grown.

This meant that we needed to re-define and re-communicate the expectations related to this role to ensure that purpose, duties, and responsibilities are properly understood.

The intention was for the pods to be an engaging space with leaders that championed the company culture. However, the drop in engagement and attendance at pod level meetings highlighted that there was a real need for us to invest in our Pod Leaders.

We believed that by providing the Pod Leaders with additional skills, it would help them to understand their team members better, be more engaged themselves and in turn create an engaging environment for the team on a 1-to-1 basis, and at the pod meetings. Ultimately, we wanted to continuously improve the support we provide to all our people.

Currently, the company is in a new phase of growth and it is imperative that we don’t drop the ball on team culture and engagement!

What shifted for the Pod leaders and their teams?

For the Pod Leaders, there was finally a clear understanding of what their roles were and what the company expected of them. They were equipped with practical tools and exercises that they could use/ share with their teams.

The sessions were also helpful and beneficial in relation to personal growth and development, as they provided tools to use on a personal level.

Through the four sessions facilitated by Helene and Avril, an environment of support and accountability was fostered within the group of team leaders. As a team, they shared ideas more openly, looked at any specific challenges they may have been facing and discussed different ways to resolve any issue that may arise. They started to feel like, and work as a more cohesive team, and importantly collaborate more as well as learn from each other.

The structure and contents of the team meetings have become more fluid and adaptable. It has allowed each Pod leader to customise the offering to their teams, instead of us looking for a one size fits all solution. Everyone is so different, and we can now look to meet those individual needs better.  We have seen the pod leaders approaching the meetings with increased confidence and they are able to develop the relationships they have with their team members.

What tangible change did you notice after the sessions?

The monthly Pod Leader meeting is now completely different. Everyone arrives more engaged and ready to share stories of how they managed to connect with a team member who was less engaged; or share an activity that they did with their team at a recent meeting. 

These experiences allowed them to deepen their understanding of how to keep the team engaged as well as motivated. As a team, the Pod Leaders also play the role of accountability partners to each other, and engage or check-in more frequently with each other as peers within the Pod Leader group.

Commenting on the training, Helene said, “It was incredible to see how the Pod Leaders from these two sister companies created a safe space for each other to learn and grow. Action is such a huge part of the work that we do, and to now hear in the quarterly follow up sessions how they have implemented their learnings and how their pods are engaging is the most rewarding part. Implementation, action and follow through… it’s a winning formula every time.”

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