Social distancing does not mean “out of sight, out of mind!” In challenging times like the COVID-19 global health crisis, we would think at first that the less communication the better to avoid any missteps. However, what if continuing to communicate was actually a good way to support our communities to go through these times? This is how Thales Digital Factory management thought it through with Anne-Sophie Jauneau, Process and Culture Specialist and Rémy Beule Dauzat, Software Engineer, diligently supporting their digital communities:
We heard you are a top-notch community project manager at the Factory, what does it mean?
Anne-Sophie J.: First thing first, I am trying to create processes and tools to meet employees’ need. To do so in this troubled period, we launched several surveys to collect data about employees’ feeling, wishes, health and so on. That research led us to understand what challenges and pains our family members were dealing with. We created processes and tools together to answer some of their concerns or pains. This is how the HR team focused more on their internal communications: Be transparent about decisions, explain through BBL (Brown Bag Lunch) online events that employees need to take, be available at any time during the working hour to answer questions or listen and help people, plan the come back to our office and the associated planning to all teams to come back all together in safe sanitary conditions etc.
Did you keep recruiting during the quarantined period, how did you adapt to the situation?
Anne-Sophie J.: We had to stop recruiting during the COVID-19 crisis. Internally, we have prioritized our recruitment needs in line with the organization’s top priority activities. We also sought to analyze whether the Factory’s internal mobility was possible or not. This is how I launched myself into a shadowing / reverse shadowing of the role of Scrum Master for an engineering team. We also tried to keep candidates up to date on our progress, although sometimes we felt more like backing off in decision-making than stumbling. It was part of the trying game, as long as we were open and communicating on it.
What are the top values that you spread while communicating with your audience?
Anne-Sophie J.: Observe, act, be accountable and learn at any time! Step back to think what is good for your organization, for your team, for your project (and not only for yourself).
How about digital communications and community management in Engineering with Rémy:
What do you like most about community managing?
Rémy B. D.: At the Digital Factory, I manage the Design System community and I participate in the practice Developer community. The latter has slowed down during the lock down because of a lack of time. The first one is still well alive, and we continue to help people to design and develop faster their software. The popular topic at the moment is about working with other entities and communities to start creating a Thales Global Design System. I meet people I would never have met otherwise thanks to my community management function. People from Toulouse to Bordeaux or from other countries. It’s interesting to see the same passion across.
How do you think communications help keep motivation high in the Tech community?
Rémy B. D.: When you see someone working on an interesting project or with an interesting technology, you want to try it. Or at least, try to improve your own project in the same way. On the other side, having feedback on what you have done is the most motivating thing. Bad or good, if it’s shared with kindness you will want to take it into account. For our Design System project for example, we got an awesome feedback one day. We did a demo of our project in front of all the Engineers of the Factory implement that feedback and we got a huge round of applause at the end. It gave us the motivation to pursue and go beyond.
What tools and communication channels do you use to best engage?
Rémy B. D.: These days, we use our internal chat tool Citadel where people can ask for help and post news frequently. But for one-to-one meetings, for video calls or for conferences, we are using Microsoft Teams. The most complicated thing is to keep people motivated and to make them find time to engage with the community.
What communications style would you recommend in challenged times?
Rémy B. D.: Being honest is really the most important for me but being compassionate is important too. It’s easier because everyone is touched by a sensitive situation like the COVID-19 sanitary crisis. So people will better understand your feelings and it will be easier to make them feel good in your community.
In a nutshell, even physically far away in tough times, stay close and supportive to your community! Test and learn from their feelings, ideas and skills. The bond you create will be even stronger and the community you manage will grow out of it. [Come work with us]