Let’s face it…the pandemic changed a lot of things over the last three years. One major shift we’ve experienced is how we interact and connect with one another in both our personal and professional lives.
At Signature Performance we set out to change the way we think about connection and developed a new program designed to offer a variety of Connection Points for our Associates. Our 2023 Connection Points include twelve unique experiences for Signature Associates to connect, contribute, advocate, and confidently know that they belong. Our Connection Points will consist of in-person, virtual, on-site, and off-site events all designed to craft a diverse and inclusive environment. They will open doors, curate conversation, build allies, start life-long friendships, and inspire our team to continue improving the health of our clients' business and to make the lives of the people we work with better.
We kicked off the year with our first professional development experience, the Women at Work Open Forum. Hosted by Signature’s very own women leaders, this virtual webinar and luncheon had over 130 attendees all dedicated to learning tangible business and professional development strategies to help them advance both personally and professionally.
Did you know that the national IT workforce is only made up of 26% women? At Signature Performance, we are proud to say that over 43% of our IT workforce are women.
Our very own President and Chief Operating Officer, Karen Hudgins, opened our forum by discussing the role of women in technology.
She shared the mindset of interviewing every day for your next job. Hudgins walked attendees through her career journey and how she landed her current role at Signature Performance. She stressed the importance of understanding that your career is a marathon, not a sprint. Each job is building you up for your next position. Hudgins shared that each time she was presented with a new opportunity, she was better at it because of her previous role. Concluding her opening statement, Hudgins encouraged attendees to avoid changing themselves to fit into a mold - “You do you,” she says.
Going Deeper: Breakout Sessions
In order to dive deeper, we wanted our Associates to have the opportunity to hear from our other women leaders on topics that personally interested them. By developing four unique breakout rooms, our Associates were able to learn more about growing their careers, working remotely, negotiating tips, and even tips for working parents.
Growing Your Career
Sheila Waring, Chief Business Development Officer, kicked off her session on career growth by sharing some of the most influential and inspirational people in her life that have pushed her to become a more effective leader. She began by sharing her Leadership Statement, which included saying yes to things that scare you, owning your career development, and most importantly, celebrating your successes - big or small.
When asked how she found ways to push boundaries and move upward, Waring recommended reading business leadership books, getting involved in as many opportunities that come your way, and having open conversations with your leadership. She shared that it is important to take ownership and accountability, and offer positive solutions based on your goals. Waring also emphasized the speed of trust. Working through issues you may not be as comfortable with, and therefore aren’t fully transparent about, can halt progress. Having honest and transparent conversations will allow you to move through roadblocks with ease.
Standing Out in a Remote Workforce
Shasta Johnson, Vice President of Business Transformation focused on how to stand out in a remote workforce. Signature Performance has Associates located across the United States, which means we must find ways to work together more effectively. Johnson began by emphasizing that one size does not fit all. A practice that works for one person may not be easily replicated in your life. Part of standing out is figuring out what works for you. Johnson also shared that collaboration and open, honest communication are key to navigating remote work. Humanizing your communications with one another creates a better sense of authenticity and builds trust, even when you are not able to communicate face-to-face.
Along with opening yourself to communication, Johnson shared the most important part of remote work, and that is protecting your peace. Configure your notifications and book time to focus on deep work, in order to keep your day on track. “If you want to do impactful work when it’s work time, you have to not work when it’s not work time,” says Johnson.
Navigating Your Career as a Working Parent
Suzanne Motta, Senior Vice President of Talent Acquisition shared her wisdom on navigating your career as a working parent. As of 2023, 70% of mothers are in the workforce. Being a working parent comes with dual responsibilities, says Motta. Your job comes with a description that you signed, with clear expectations from your manager. Then you also have your family, which comes with its own expectations - as well as societal expectations - of you.
Motta offered three tips for managing work and family:
Create a schedule. As you are doing so, it becomes clear when you have overtasked yourself.
When your schedule is too hectic, re-evaluate your goals and expectations. Can you scale back your involvement with some of the events on your calendar? “Share the love” with your responsibilities.
Speak honestly with your kids to alleviate potential conflicts. Do they want you to go to their wrestling match or attend their field trip? You can’t be two places at once and including them in your prioritization will help all parties involved.
Motta also believes that there is no such thing as finding work life balance - because it’s never going to be balanced. It is more about your work-life choices. Set boundaries and make sure your priorities are in the right order. You will teach your kids to do the same. Practicing self care and taking time for yourself is crucial to your success. Motta also invites us all to celebrate Working Parents Day on September 16th, as a day to recognize all the rock-star parents who are also managing a work schedule.
The Art of Negotiation
Kate Massey, Vice President of Contracts and Compliance discussed the art of negotiation. Massey shared that negotiation is part of our daily life. It is part of how we communicate and live our day-to-day lives. To master negotiation, you must optimize your strategy based on how the deal will be done. Will it take place in person, over the phone, or through email? This determines your approach strategy. Massey went on to break down the craft of bargaining. She encourages putting yourself in the other party’s shoes, by listening and having empathy. Ask questions to gain more information and understanding. Massey also highlighted the importance of knowing your limits and when to walk away. Rushing to close a deal in fear of losing out is not going to benefit you or the company in the long run. Massey closed with advising not to burn any bridges if you do have to walk away. You never know when the circumstance or individuals involved will circle back around.
Signature's Commitment to Associate Connection
Our Leadership, Diversity Circle, and Associate Experience teams are passionate about crafting worthwhile experiences for our inaugural year of Connection Points. The twelve experiences designed with you in mind will be part of one of the following three anchor-points:
Community Connection - Signature is connected with the communities we inhabit, support, and serve, now more than ever! Look forward to Signature's sponsorship for "marquee" events like Heartland Pride, Juneteenth Festivals, Charity Walks, and more
Internal Events - We know connection begins in the workplace. Look forward to activities, engagements, challenges, and learning that will be available to you during standard business hours, anchored to themed weeks, social events, and more!
Professional Development - When we learn together, we grow together. We connect by a mutual foundation of knowledge and empowerment. Look forward to internal and external learning opportunities to hear from Signature's and the industry's best.
To learn more about what's happening in and around Signature, check out Our Signature Stories.