Back in 2019, I started a new role as US. Digital Power business leader. From the first week, I published the first edition of my weekly journal, Digital Journey with Khaled, to initiate open team communication on our company’s social networking platform, Yammer.
The idea was to create a way to communicate with my team of nearly 500 employees—in an informal, conversational and transparent manner—what someone in my leadership position does on a weekly basis.
In these weekly announcements, I touch upon a range of topics from customer visits, to direct contact with Digital Power team members, to learnings from conferences, workshops and meetings with other groups within the company, to sharing insights from our senior leadership within and outside of the US.
The scope and emphasis of these communications varies depending on the developments of the week.
While I often focus on business priorities, the journal is also a way to celebrate our team’s achievements and milestones, and steadily increase employee engagement.
It’s an opportunity for my team to freely exchange ideas, perspectives, and opinions with me and each other about key topics and events of the week, the trajectory of our business, and even investment and innovation opportunities through open dialogue and instant polling.
On the lighter side, they even get to vote on what color I should paint my hair if we exceed our order targets for the year. (In 2020, it was purple—in case you are wondering!)
The weekly journal also allows me to kickstart my weekend. There’s a group of about 10 people from the team who hold me accountable for the journal by texting and checking on me if I don’t publish it by 5 p.m. on Friday—something I’ve really come to appreciate!
On a serious note, we also use this forum to share thoughts about topics that shape our culture and challenge us to ‘Embrace Different”, such as during difficult times of civil unrest with the injustice encountered by the black community and how we come together to acknowledge and address this topic as a team.
While this journal started before COVID-19 began impacting our ability to connect in person, it proved to be a critical platform of open team communication and a two-way dialogue with my colleagues as we navigated the new reality.
It reinforced and complemented other means of company communications in a different and engaging way that proved to be critical to emphasizing our priorities during the pandemic and to keeping open channels of dialogue with the team.
What started as “my forum” has evolved to “our forum”.
This digital journey is as much about the team’s experience as it is about mine, as we’ve learned that our success and our struggles are shared.
The Digital Journey is our way to affirm that reality on a regular basis and allows us to manage and celebrate challenges when they arise and not just during an annual survey.
Fast forward two years—I recently shared the 100th edition of the Digital Journey with my team and my reflections what the journal experience has taught us.
Viewing the journey quantitatively, I’ve written over 33,000 words, attached nearly 100 photos and files, and visited 18 different cities and 5 countries (all by week 49 since, COVID-19 kept me grounded at home).
I was told by many that the 100th edition was the best journal posting to date and received many encouraging comments that will keep me going for more.
Speaking to the qualitative aspects of the 100 weeks, for me, the greatest point of pride is knowing that this humble journal is having a positive impact on our team’s performance, our ability to collaborate, and engender trust. Here are just a couple examples of reactions to the 100th post:
“Congratulations on the 100th week! Your posts are informational yet fun to read! Purple hair suits you! Looking forward to seeing you in Schneider green hair sometime soon :). Digital Power team feels like a family with such open communication and transparency.”
“Congrats on 100 weeks and thank you for keeping us informed and connected to leadership on weekly basis. Reading the digital journey is usually how I end my work every week.”
Communication is not always given the emphasis and attention it deserves and while different styles and formats exist in delivering the message and engaging in a dialogue, each leader should choose the format that best facilitates team communication, the workplace culture, and their own leadership style for it to be effective and genuine.
Going forward, as I published the 100th edition, I did what felt natural—asked the team if they want the journey to continue—or wrap it up.
In a Yammer poll, they overwhelmingly agreed that the Digital Journey must continue. And while I started this journey to connect with my colleagues and encourage team communication, fact is, they’ve enriched my experience as a leader and I’m forever grateful to them for that.
So, the journey will go on, as will the learning.
Connect with me on LinkedIn to exchange on team communication ideas!