#StorytellingTuesday: Knowing your work matters -- that alone deserves a headline

October 22, 2018 | Holly Pennebaker | HCI
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Editor’s note: Cincinnati journalist Libby Cunningham changed jobs in March, and the impact of that change made for the perfect story of feeling connected at work. Cunningham transitioned from a not-so-connected culture to one in which she feels more human connection than ever … and because she now feels close to her team, she says it’s the best move she’s ever made. I asked Cunningham to write about her experience, as her story is one you don’t want to miss!

First days of a new job, under a new roof, with a new team can be scary.

Even when the refresh is for the best, and it means taking your career to the next level – the one you’ve been working toward -- there’s an eerie level of awkwardness, vulnerability and excitement that comes with being the new kid. Nothing makes the first days or weeks at a new gig sweeter than realizing that what you do at work has a role in how successful the company is overall.

It’s important to know what you do at work actually matters.

This understanding is reinforced by deadlines on projects that truly mean something and the awareness that if you don’t get something done, someone else is going to ask for it. In a news setting, your scripts and stories MUST be written on time so they make it on air or get published online. Seeing your work in action and performing over the airwaves as an employee gives you a sense of pride and importance to the company’s operation. Without the time you put in, the public won’t get the story. In a connected newsroom, employees know they’re not wasting their time when it comes to meeting deadlines, which encourages reporters to churn out their best work. Managers work with journalists to demonstrate why their copy and delivery is essential to pushing out the newscast, and good managers always provide feedback along the way.

That’s another thing: Connected workplaces should provide guidance to employees. Not only does it build trust among managers and staff, but it shows workers how their contributions to the day-to-day operations help.

Miss an important detail of the story? You’ll probably hear from your editor or producer, but that’s okay.

As long as criticism comes from a manager who has shown they know what they’re talking about, the feedback is welcomed. Edits, changes and the re-recording of voice tracks are just part of the daily grind in a newsroom. If the actions of managers make it to clear to the employee that they aren’t personal, they’re easy to fix. It’s when they come without explanation that they start wasting time and causing friction. There’s also a level of accountability on the workers part too: the ability to understand that mention of an error means just one piece of product needs tweaking. It isn’t a reflection of the entire job.

Trust in any workplace is a puzzle, it takes time and effort to build. In a connected workplace, that starts on the first day. It’s not about getting newest, nicest equipment at your new job right away. It’s built by small, considerate gestures, like everyone getting to know your name before the end of the day. Celebrating the smallest victories with someone, even if it’s their first byline, report or successful time logging into company email makes the new person feel like their time and comfort at work is already valued.

Connect with Cunningham on Twitter: @LibSCunningham

Join HCI and workplace culture expert Michael Lee Stallard Nov. 13 at 1 p.m. ET for the fourth #StorytellingTuesday webcast and learn how people analytics and workforce planning make a connected culture even better.

Expend your learning even more by attending HCI’s People Analytics and Workforce Planning Conference, coming up March 5-7, 2019 in Miami, Fla.

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