What I learned from starting a new job during the pandemic – CTech

Posted By on February 16, 2021

Last month I met my team face to face for the first time. Not a very surprising statement coming from a newcomer to an organization. However, in my case, it happened exactly on my 10th month anniversary of joining the company.

For me, starting a new position always meant spending a lot of time in joint breaks and random discussions in the hallways, until I got to know everyone. This usually also included quite a bit of traveling, visiting my remote teams, to personally experience the different sites.

This time I started a new job without ever leaving home, never having a chance to meet even my local team, not to mention visiting other sites.

The Challenges

Humans are social animals. Social distancing helps in controlling the spreading of diseases but it's bad for teamwork. This is especially felt when you are new to the team and trying to build knowledge and relationships from scratch.

Non-verbal communication - To be an effective leader, you have to connect with your people on a personal level, and empathize with them. A lot of this is based on non-verbal cues, which, even over video conferencing, are often lost on the digital medium.

Free flow of information - Development work is creative work. Innovation is associative in nature. A lot of great ideas come up unintentionally by overhearing a technical conversation. A lot of problems are solved at random ad-hoc discussions. All of this is significantly impacted by the fact there is no office and all conversations are planned and pre-scheduled video conferencing calls.

Dont say it cant be done, be adaptive, and find another way to do it - When everything changes, keep your focus on achieving the results and adapt your methods to the new situation. I was lucky to get a team of fighters. We worked closely remotely, got to know each other through the camera, learned with a virtual whiteboard, brainstormed along with network connection problems, pushed changes by communicating through google excels and slides, improved, and showed success.

There is no substitute for visual contact - Audio calls or emails do not fill the gap of not being able to look somebody in the eyes. Video calls are not a perfect replacement to face to face meetings but it is a significant improvement. In this case, the video part really saved me.

Good vibes and a bucket full of energy - Keeping a good atmosphere is especially important in hard times. A mixture of openness, trust, and a sense of humor can help overcome the fact that our only communication is currently, through digital media and make it feel less cold and more real.

A lot of 1:1s - Under normal circumstances, you get to meet your local colleagues on a daily basis, for coffee, lunch, or just walking past them in the hallways. In these times, the only people you meet are those you Zoom with. And so, if you don't set up a meeting with someone, you are not going to talk to them at all.

Business as usual - At Imperva, we kept up the focus - we recruited and built a new R&D site, without ever visiting it, we made a significant acquisition and we kept running at full speed as if there was no pandemic.

We are already entering 2021 and Covid-19 is still not behind us, but hopefully, this is the beginning of the end.

Although I joined at a difficult time, I am very happy with the choices I made along the way.

I have certainly learned a lot from it all: Striving for success despite the challenges, adapting to changes, and keeping a positive energy and a can-do attitude at rough times.

A good runner is someone that knows how to run when he has hurdles in hteir way. When they recognize a hurdle, they quickly calculate a new path. Team - thank you for this run.

Liat Ashkenazi is the Senior Director Of Engineering and Data Security at Imperva

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What I learned from starting a new job during the pandemic - CTech

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