By Maggie Zeman

Recently, I experienced a great reminder about the critical role teams and company values play in everyday work life. I just joined the estimated 800,000 Americans who endure knee surgery each year. As common as the procedure is, sports injuries (any injury really) are painful, can be isolating at the least and often scary. According to a recent story on NPR, injuries can feel like “the beginning of the end.” We lose perspective asking ourselves ‘Will I ever really be back to ‘normal’? ‘Is this it for me?’ When you pile on recent Covid-inducing loneliness, the reality is daunting as pain and doubts compete against the pressures of work and looming deadlines. Normal fears and questions aside, I consider myself a positive person. Even then, I admit to a few pity parties here and there. This week was no different. Heading to my PT appointment as I navigated my Lyft XL with my brace and crutches, it felt like I was slipping into my perceived new (negative) normal as my mental health battled for my attention against my work deadlines. While waiting for my appointment to begin I checked Slack and email only to find several team members checking in with me and asking how they could help.

The Value in Having Values

At Double Forte we double down on our core values. I am proud of the hard work we put into defining values that are not only important to each of us but that, I think, set us apart from other companies. Some of our values are aspirational (we really do work hard to be a Force for Good, and we do Find Joy in Our Workdays) and all DF values level up to ways of working that drive teamwork, resiliency and collaboration. When the chips are down, we invest heavily in having each other’s backs. Here are a few examples of what that means to us.

  • We Are A Team: We know that our best work is done together. That means working as a team on all aspects of client work and internal projects. To be successful, we are accountable and never leave our teammates hanging. We over-communicate about timelines, expectations, workflow, team roles and project goals. That means we also communicate when we’re going to be out of the office or facing urgent or unplanned deadlines. My team wouldn’t have known to check in with me otherwise.
  • We Are Collaborative: As we like to say, we play well with others. The “how are you doing?” Slack or “how can I help?” email is indicative of the DF approach to working together. We believe in each other’s abilities and we respect and support each other always. This collaborative spirit means we seek to learn, celebrate and accommodate each other’s differences, workloads and time zones, always.
  • We Are Resilient: We don’t give up easily. We are flexible so that we can adapt to any situation, whether it’s a personal, work, industry or community situation, flexibility keeps us nimble and ready to spring into action. This also helps us keep perspective so we can handle highs and lows in stride, taking initiative to come up with creative solutions to fit any situation.

I hope you take the time to assess your company values and update them where needed. Engage your team in a discussion about what’s important to them and how you can support each other. A robust Team Talk can help build key principles while guiding your company to better performance, positive team engagement and much richer collaboration.

Stranger Things

One final note: I’ve learned that it’s ok to be vulnerable. If you don’t feel comfortable doing so in the workplace, find the right friend or therapist to speak with about how you’re doing. Support can be found in some interesting places. For instance, I’m simply amazed by the power of engaging with strangers. As I approached the elevator at my PT’s office that day, I was greeted by two women who would take the ride with me to the third floor.

“What happened to you?”

“Knee surgery,” I said simply.

“Ha! I had knee surgery 20 years ago. I’m 76! We’re both on our way to yoga now,” said the first passenger.

“Our instructor had knee replacement surgery last year,” chimed in her friend. “You’ll be fine!” You know what? I believe she’s right.