Being HR means to like being in a roller-coaster, likening to have ups and downs, being able to find motivation in yourself, likening to be creative and working with sometimes vague expectations in terms of KPY. And being HR means loving people even when they don’t make themselves easy to love. This is why I love HR and I would never trade this job for something else, no matter the money.
One of the biggest challenges I had as HR, maybe because I was also very young and with only 1 year experience of HR, was when I had to organize the first teambuilding of my life. It was also the best – I believe – because I put my heart in it (my strongest point, still).
Let me tell you few things about the general context. It was an IT company, creating a new product – a hybrid between two technologies used in making chips, the team was of around 70 people, most of them new, all of them very passionate, creative and many of them very introverted and hard to talk with. I was one year old in the company trying to create a common background between administrative stuff – all of them extroverts and sociable – and technical stuff, create a common language that could be understood by all of them. Every day was a new challenge, doubled by the fact that software and hardware teams were in open conflict most of the time – because of technical aspects.
I must confess that in the first 6 months I cried a lot in the bathrooms, I took every joke personally and I continued going to work, smiling all the time based solely on two principles: “all people are good, not all of them know how to show it and it is up to me to see it and take the qualities out in the open field” and “I am not a quitter. I will try different solutions until things turn out the way I expect/want”.
My salvation and the beginning of one of the happiest professional period of my life came from our CEO via a simple e-mail: “Andreea, I want you to organize a teambuilding for all coordinators in the company. Find 3 trainers, from Romania, Israel and USA and decide with them the training needs. Don’t worry about the budget. I want everybody to be spoiled during this teambuilding”.
I know many of you envy me now for the “no budget restrictions” part, but for me was a ticking bomb landed in my yard. What was a teambuilding? Who had to participate? What do they have to do there for 3 days? Where to have it? When? Where do I find the trainers? The list of unanswered questions was huge for me, but I took the challenge – remember that I am not a quitter.
The logistical part was the easiest one. I took the best accommodation offer that I got from most supportive people. Then transportation went smooth and easy. I got help from the company and trainers were on board. The future sounded less scary and the task didn’t seem so hard to accomplish. I started to be more confident.
And then I had to do the hard things: on one hand establish training needs, split them among the trainers, foe each day, review their training agendas and on the other hand establish what spoiling the participants mean.
I knew spoiling, I am a people oriented person, but trainings were a blurry, very complicated concept for me. So I started to read. We have a saying in Romanian: “Make the pig fat just before Christmas” – applying for situations when you have to learn very fat something (I am sure that as students you did that many times). Well, mine was pretty fat when I finally understood what I have to do, but it took many sleepless nights. Totally worth it!
I identified first set of training needs starting from complains. Management was complaining about employees, employees complained about management and employees complained about each other. So I have decided that all of them needed training on communication: how to communicate, what to communicate, when to communicate, to whom to communicate. I talked to trainers and we have decided to teach them about communication styles, mutual respect, feed-back etc.
Then I have identified the second set of training needs starting from the role the participants had: all of them were coordinators. So we have introduced management topics: different management styles, some things about project management, team motivation, time management. So we had the second day covered.
The third set was the trip purpose, also: teambuilding. Having beers together and being forced to spend time together was enough? I have decided that no, it was not. So the third day was dedicated to making management a team, not just a crowd of coordinator, but a team with the same objective: the company needs to grow, to develop and each one of them has to contribute to this. And we had the third day of training: teambuilding exercises all day long.
The final planning thing was spoiling things. Oh, here I was a queen, my favorite task. I did several things:
I created a symbol for the whole teambuilding: a tree (common roots that we all had, being employed by the same company), the branches were far one from another (all people are different and unique) and on top all branches were united (we have the same objectives). The symbol resembled a hand with fingers.
I have found out what is the favorite booze each one had and they found a bottle in their fridge, in the room.
I have made personalized pens for each participants, but also for their teams: name, position, company logo, so that they bring something home to their team and make them happy, too.
I have bought presents for each office (we had two0, so that they can play teambuilding games in each office: a basketball for Brasov and a football one for Iasi, depending on their favorite sport.
I have bought presents for each trainers – as a thank you note, besides the money.
During that teambuilding I got one of the best encouragements of my life and I want to share it with you. I had to have a short speech to thank one of the trainers who could not be with us until end of teambuilding. For me that meant to interrupt all conversations during dinner, speak loud in from of 70 people, be fluent and I was not allowed to faint. I did it, but when I got back to my table my hands were shaking so bad that the trainers noticed them. He came to me and he told me: “Andreea, what you did back there was amazing – being sooo afraid to have the speech and still have it was extremely courageous. If you were able to do this you will be able to do everything you want to do. Always conquer your fears and be as the water for the stones – be the only thing that can get inside them without breaking them. Always follow your dreams, no matter the fears”. I did that, I followed his wise advices and my life turned out to be a good one, full of fulfilled dreams on all levels. It one of the best confidence boosts I ever got.
The teambuilding was a total success. People had fun, they learnt, they loved the trainings, they bounded, they finally became friendly to each other, they talked about all their issues: professional or not and my personal gain – they all accepted me as part of the general team and we found the common background to work together and make a better company together.
The next year in the company was fun, was about making new friends – some of them are still in my life -, was about learning IT profile, was about understanding IT people in their deep soul (believe me, it is not easy) and was about growing as a junior professional HR.
There is no such thing as impossible, if it can be learnt
Trust your unlimited resources and they will be activated by default
Ask for help – you will always get it from the most unexpected sources
Always trust that people are good: some just don’t know how to show it, but you can help them to learn
Always be good to people and they will be good to you, sooner or later
What you do with your heart will always turned out great
I am writing these lines and I am still smiling. I see the happy faces, I hear the laughs, I hear the curious questions and most of all I hear the “Thank you – s”.
One of the best memories of my personal and professional life. I am glad I could share it with you.
Always follow your dreams and always conquer your fears!