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An interview with Anders Blom Monberg, Country Manager for Protector Insurance Denmark.
Working from home can be a challenge, even when you know the job, company, and stakeholders very well. When you are new however, you must learn everything in the virtual world.
Many things have changed during this pandemic and onboarding sure is one of them!
At Friisberg & Partners we hear from many CEOs and understand that it has been extraordinarily demanding to get into the new role when the employees and managers work from home. However, many of the CEOs are also finding benefits and new opportunities with getting an online start, instead of a physical presence.
The Country Manager at Protector Insurance Denmark, Anders Blom Monberg shares his thoughts about how he has handled an unusual onboarding when he started his new position on January 1st, 2021.
What considerations did you make before you started, knowing that the offices were empty, and everybody was working from home?
“Before I started this role, many people had already been working at home for a long period of time. I am therefore used to being a leader in a virtual world, and my colleagues are used to the same. It was a big help that we all knew what we were dealing with and had adapted beforehand.”
Did you have an introduction plan?
“Yes. Protector Insurance had given me an introductory plan, and many of my meetings were already scheduled.
All the meetings took place online, and this made is possible to meet more people than I would have been able to if the meetings were physical. The meetings were more efficient, there was less small talk, and everybody arrived at the meeting on time – perhaps this is a special Protector discipline”, says Anders with a laugh.
What has been difficult and what has been good?
“The hardest part is connecting with your employees and creating relationships in the virtual space. The best part is the logistics, as I have been able to get around much faster and had a unique opportunity to be able to talk to all employees, which was unheard of before.”
“The new virtual world has great benefits, but I really do miss coming to the office and talking with my employees over a beer on Fridays. “
“When I first had meetings with the team only 10% had turned on their camera. I find hugely important to be able to see everyone, so I encouraged everyone to have their cameras on. I have subsequently received good feedback and today nearly everybody is visible in meetings.”
You are in a very international company, with a Norwegian CEO. Due to the pandemic, you have not had a physical meeting with him as yet. How has it worked for you?
“I actually feel like I know him pretty well, we’ve been to quite a few meetings already, and I understand him well. But we lack the social dimension, such as having a meal together. As mentioned, the virtual world is very efficient, but it is efficient because it lacks all the informal talk.”
Are there elements from the virtual world, that you wish to continue using, after we return to a more normal physical work life?
“These times will make us better, so of course. We want to be more flexible with employees working from home. The management team has chosen to change the rules for who and how much you can work from home. It will be outsourced to the individual manager. I have always believed that working from home is ok and now there is a greater appetite for home workplaces. We have gained more flexibility, and we see employees working at odd times, because this works better for them. We don’t see them working less, on the contrary I’m convinced that we as the employer also benefit from a more flexible working environment.”
How about the informal talk over the coffee machine?
“I have insisted that we also have smalltalk sessions virtually. It could be morning coffees, Friday drinks or simply a meeting starting with a funny story from a participant. It works super well.”
“We have also used Kahoot to make it more fun, and I encouraged the employees, to talk about the week’s challenges and what they have succeeded in doing.”
“In Protector we have a sports challenge. We exercise individually, which gives points. We post pictures of our activities on our intranet. Finally, there are prizes for the winning team.”
Do you have 3 good tips on how to have success as a new Director or part of the Management Team, during these times?
1. Get to know the company and the people who work in it.
2. Meet as many as possible at short introductory meetings.
3. Show employees who you are and what you stand for so they can feel who you are.
Susanne Becker Mikkelsen