FMI is fortunate to have an incredible team who showcase a real can-do culture. Luckily, this culture can be infectious. One person to display this can- do attitude is Steven Ball, our Sales Manager based in our Belfast Office. Despite being new to his role when Covid started, he proactively shares his story of some of the challenges and the rewards of maintaining engagement with his team during the pandemic.
“As a new Sales Manager at FMI, I had only spent a short amount of time with my new team when Covid-19 struck. While things changed quickly, I wondered how to keep them all engaged remotely as lockdown was effected. Having always had personal contact with any team I had managed, the first thing I needed was a simple but effective way to communicate with all of them. I originally looked at all the different chat web sites available, and after several false starts, decided that Zoom was the best for us as a team as it was easy to use and not hard to set up.
Next, the content of these meetings had to be informative and engaging. As the team were also new to this way of working, lots of reassurance was needed. With them being at home and experiencing a level of uncertainty about their jobs, I needed to give them as much information as possible about what FMI were doing as a company and what we were setting out to achieve. I started off by introducing a bit of fun, and this has continued over the last 14 weeks, offering various competitions to participate in and prizes to be won. These activities ranged from a Silly Hat Day; an Easter- egg- painting competition; Quizzes and a Dragon’s Den presentation. This gave us time to reflect with each other, overcome the challenges we all faced as individuals, and engage in lots of team building, thus ensuring the wellbeing of everyone on the team.
On the business side of things, Gareth, part of our fantastic L&D team, helped devise a road map for the team to upskill, which was a great opportunity, as the team wouldn’t normally have had the time to do this. They all shared best practice ideas, breaking into smaller groups to discuss the training carried out by means of Google Classroom and re-inforced by the team members speaking about these topics during our daily meetings on Zoom. This gave my colleagues the opportunity to express their ideas and to explain what worked best for them.
FMI also rose to the challenge on the ‘wellbeing and communications’ front by using an icebreaker system on Microsoft Teams, pairing me every week with someone different within the company, giving me the opportunity to have a chat and a cup of coffee. It gave me a chance to learn about other colleagues with whom I wouldn’t normally have touched base in my day- to- day working environment, as I am based in Belfast while the Head Office of the Company is located in Dublin. We also had daily management meetings to discuss the business side of things, and communication was quick, clear, and concise, and I found it to be a lot more personal than emails arriving in my inbox.
As lockdown eases and we get back to some sort of normality, whatever normal is, I have found that I have gained so many different skills that I wouldn’t have done had I not been in this position. I have built a greater understanding of my colleagues and their roles in the company, as well as their likes and dislikes, in a shorter period of time than would have otherwise been possible. The time has allowed the team members to bond with each other, rather than attending a quick meeting in the office before going out to sell. I have grown vegetables in the garden for the first time in my life. I now consider myself to be an expert on Zoom communication, and my computer skills have definitely improved.
I am now looking forward to getting back out in the field, selling, armed with my new knowledge to support and work with my ‘not- so- new’ team.”