Interviewer: Today on our show we are interviewing Agnes Mxolisi who has agreed to talk to us about leadership and communication and building community in the workplace. So thank you very much, Agnes for joining us today.
Agnes: Thank you for having me.
Interviewer: So you can tell me a little bit about how you build community for your staff at work?
Agnes: I try to create community for all the staff. I generally do talk to them quite a bit. I can’t talk to all the staff, but I try. I have a large staff. I every so often drop by somebody’s desk, and see how they’re doing, what’s happening in their life. I do try to sort of make personal connections with them. You know some people are sports people, some have children, some people like to volunteer, and some people like to travel. So I hope to build connections with them by understanding things that are important to them by learning their values. Yesterday, in my environment (I’ve been in this organization for a year) I brought chocolates. Went around to all the staff and said, “Thank you very much for the great year!” You know try to put social events into place if you happen to know somebody’s birthday; you make a point of it. And when it comes to work, then it’s a lot easier for me to present the work and say what’s the value in it—like why we are doing it. If you don’t know why you’re doing it, then you say it’s just another job.
Interviewer: So today we have Sarah Delassi with us. Sarah is the Vice President of one of Alberta’s leading manufacturing organizations. Thanks so much for coming and visiting us today, Sarah.
Sarah: No problem. I’m happy to be here.
Interviewer: So, one of the things that we’d like to ask you about is your experience working for organizations, who are particularly good at building workplace community. So maybe a little bit about what they’ve done and what you’ve done to build strong, effective workplace communities.
Sarah: Sure. Well, you know what, I’ve been lucky. Every company that I’ve worked for ended up with a community and hopefully I was part of the reason for that. When it comes to bringing people together, one of the first companies I worked for was in British Columbia and people enjoyed getting together on the weekend or something like that for a game of baseball, helping out with a fundraiser, I know we did the corporate challenge as well, and we got everybody involved. We also raised money for various charities to help bring something back to the community. In a way it was a little bit of a network system and if someone needed help, you know, help moving, help with some issues that they were having, then everybody helped out, and it was hard to leave that company. So that was the first organization where we built community, and then I got a chance to go to another one. And it ended up being almost a counseling service but people still again meshed together and we did a lot of things that tried to helped people. We had a strong LGBTQ community there that did great work in the broader social community with fundraising and awareness-raising. It was the strength of the group that made the work so special. Not everybody in the company always helped out but it brought a sense of belonging to an area. Even this company that I work for now, I mean people love getting together and inviting each other over for dinner and parties and socializing, and things like that. So it’s been nice to be part of that and everywhere I’ve been has been that…It’s been great.
Interviewer: Thanks again Sarah for joining us today and for telling us so much about effective workplace communities and how you’ve build them and been part of organizations that have done the same.
Sarah: Thanks for having me.