Harris Fanaroff

5 Things I’ve Learned at OKA (My New Job)

2020 started with an exciting change for me professionally. I joined the OKA family as “Director of Client Relationships”, pursuing an industry, company, and mission that I am incredibly passionate about. This opportunity came as a result of a several year journey searching for the optimal career path doing work that I believe whole-heartedly in. Via hundreds of conversations with those in and out of my network, I am fortunate to have been led into the field of leadership coaching, training, and organizational development. This industry has changed my life and I am enthused with the opportunity to now share this change with clients, coworkers, family, and friends.

It’s funny how opportunities present themselves – my “lead” happened to be as a result from reaching out to a unknown LinkedIn contact who was doing work that interested me. The coffee that followed led to a mentorship, which then led to him suggesting I reach out to another individual, who leads the company I am now a part of.

I tell this story to share a motto I truly believe; you never know where a connection can take you. If you are open-minded, curious, and gratuitous, the possibilities of where a “random” coffee meet up or phone conversation can lead are endless. With all that being said, I wanted to share five things I’ve learned at OKA through my first month at the new job.

1.       The desire for companies, teams, and individuals to improve emotional intelligence is growing

“Emotional Intelligence” is quickly becoming a buzzword in today’s society, and for good reason. OKA’s clients understand the power of emotional intelligence and how it can enable the workforce. It may be true that technical skills land job positions but in order to grow and excel in a current position or desired position, emotional intelligence is now a key factor with performance and potential candidacy.

Recognizing our own strengths and weaknesses leads directly to an increase in self-awareness and in turn, a greater level of self-management. The journey of improving our emotional intelligence begins by understanding where we struggle and developing an action plan for improvement.

2.       Flexibility is vital

Transitioning from a 1300-person company to a 5-person company was full of expected and unexpected surprises and hurdles. Honestly, this aspect of the new role excited me as it was one of the parts of my previous role that I felt was hindered. That said, at such a small firm, adaptation and open-mindedness was obligatory for success professionally and personally with coworkers and team unity. I have learned the importance (and fun) of wearing many hats and embracing failure.

3.       Find a workplace that embraces “you””

Achieving happiness in an organization is built from a combination of many aspects. One that I believe to be mandatory is the ability to be your true and honest self. Every individual brings a unique skill set to the team and recognizing that is an important key for success. Fostering each other’s unique selves and skillsets provides an enjoyable and productive work environment.

I feel incredibly lucky to be able to bring my full self to work each day and be with fellow employees that trust me to make responsible decisions. Even though I have less years of experience than many of my co-workers at OKA, my voice is valued and encouraged.

4.       Utilize Tools/Assessments for Better Communication

OKA is an organization that is heavily focused on utilizing tools for increased self-awareness and self-management. Having team members with a high level of emotional intelligence creates a company culture that fosters individuals simply being “wired” differently. We all gather data and make decisions in unique ways.

Many client revelations occur when individuals recognize that they may approach a problem through a specific lens but that that is not the only lens that is available. At OKA, we are transparent with each other’s assessment results and use them in every interaction. We know who is wired to respond on an objective way (problem-focused) or a subjective (people-focused) way. This allows for the team be more empathetic and understanding of where others are coming from.

5.       Being new is not always a bad thing

It’s true, being new is daunting and scary. This was my first professional transition since I had graduated college and as stated, was an immensely different workplace than I had grown used to. In the beginning, I found myself prefacing my ideas with “I realize I am only “x” weeks in, but I was thinking…”. My colleagues honest feedback was – stop. By doubting myself due to being the newest member, I was unfairly discounting my recommendations. I am constantly learning through my own actions (and via coaching clients) that we are often our own biggest critics.

The truth is, my coworkers recognize that I bring new experiences and skills to the table and are excited for me to share my thoughts and reactions. Having a fresh and unbiased view on topics and processes can be incredibly helpful with workflow efficiency and professional development.