Tatiana Voloshina, HRBP of TECHIIA holding, shares her experience and tips in an interview with Authority Magazine.
Career development is the ongoing process of choosing, improving, developing, and advancing your career. This involves learning, making decisions, collaboration with others and knowing yourself well enough to be able to continually assess your strengths and weaknesses. This can be challenging enough when you work in an office, but what if you work remotely? How does remote work affect your career development? How do you nurture and advance your career when you are working from home and away from other colleagues? How can you help your employees do this? To address these questions, we started an interview series called “How To Advance and Enhance Your Career When You Are Working Remotely”. As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tatyana Voloshina.
Tatyana Voloshina is the Human Resources Business Partner at TECHIIA holding. She is an independent specialist who acts for the benefits of the business. Tatyana has strong experience in consulting owners and managers, business negotiations, and change management using modern HR technics and tools.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. What is your “backstory”?
Thanks for having me! My story is about fire in my eyes, it means more than work experience and specialized education.
I am a lawyer by education. My family believed that this specialty helps a person develop systems thinking. During my third-year internship, I noticed how strengths turn me into a weak specialist. Legal business requires attention to detail, assertiveness, focus on results, including at any cost. I like communication. I love and know how to listen to people, I quickly identify their talents and growth areas. So I realized that I want to help others develop professionally.
After a couple of dozen companies did not hire a certified lawyer for the HR position, I changed my tactics. I started attending all thematic conferences to find an experienced HR who needs an assistant. I chose several “targets” for myself — speakers, organizers, experts from the audience — and approached them with trembling knees and a quavering voice. At that time, I was ready to work without pay and would even pay for the opportunity to learn a new profession in practice.
These pitches made me famous in a professional community. One of the top specialists recommended me to the company for an internship program. In general, their program did not imply the recruitment of interns in the HR department. But they took me out of curiosity, to see what kind of phenomenon with the fire in her eyes she is.
After three years, I began to manage projects and people. Six years later, I took the position of HR Business Partner in the international holding TECHIIA.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
There was a moment when I doubted whether I chose the right profession. At my first job, I was given easy tasks, from the experienced manager’s perspective. One of them is to find a person for production. A beginner’s position, previous work experience did not matter. I interviewed a man who had previously worked at a construction site. He wanted to join our company badly. We chose another candidate and I was the person who had to refuse him.
Hearing my words, the man began to cry. He said that he was not taken anywhere, he had a poor salary and inhuman conditions at the construction site. I don’t remember how I calmed him down. It got me thinking — “Do I really want to do this kind of work?” For a 22-year-old woman, depriving a person of hope for a better life was a daunting challenge.
Since then, upon refusal, I try to give the person benefit and hope. Be polite, do not point out the shortcomings, but rather highlight the strengths, pay attention to similar vacancies in other companies.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
In late May, companies order gifts for the employees’ kids for Children’s Day. In one company, we ordered flavored honey. The next day, I received photos of some labels of that honey saying that it was expired. It makes me smile now, but it was not funny at all back then.
Later it turned out that the manufacturer had put the date by hand and had written the wrong numbers by mistake. As an excuse, we received an extra shipment of honey. I approached each employee, gave them a new jar, apologized, and explained that no one wanted to harm their children. No hard feelings from anyone.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My Life Lesson Quotes fall into two categories — in regards to work and life. I remember my senior colleague, who said: “The one who is brave will learn.” This is not only a way to regain responsibility for your knowledge, experience, and the development of new neural connections. It is a tool for overcoming fear. All of us are frightened by the new and the unknown. But only a purposeful movement towards this newest and unknown turns us into the best version of ourselves.
As for the professional advice, the simplest ones are the most important: to share only verified information; to do work so as not to harm others.; to always keep promises.
HR involves dancing with fire on a knife-edge. On the one hand, it protects the interests of the employee. On the other hand, we were all hired to solve business problems. Therefore, you need to know exactly at what point the situation requires you to take the side of the company and refuse a person.
In one of the projects, I had a difficult situation. My colleague violated the conflict of interest clause, and only I knew about it. I must say that she taught me a lot and often helped me with good advice. It was incorrect to report to the management about the violation because of our relationship but it was incorrect to remain silent because the job is the job. I recommended she explain herself to the management, otherwise, I would have to do it. In the end, I did say it myself — for that type of business, the situation was critical.
Another obvious-non-obvious is learning to articulate your value. If you don’t explain what exactly you are doing, why it is important, no one will notice your work. People think of themselves, their tasks, and problems, but clearly see that HRs “only have coffee breaks and communicate with employees.” It’s the same with an editor, financier, accountant. At a minimum, management should understand what kind of analytics you do, what daily tasks you solve, and how it helps the company to move towards its goals.
What advice would you give to other business leaders to help their employees thrive and avoid burnout?
This is a difficult and easy question at the same time. Difficult — because people are different, everyone has his/her place in the corporate hierarchy. Therefore, advice should be tailored to the specific situation. Easy — because we all forget that simple things save lives. Therefore, I will give almost three commandments that you need to reread as often as possible.
- Take a rest before getting tired. A person can only perform well if there is a reasonable work-life balance.
- Don’t do others’ jobs for them. It is better to recommend, teach, connect with the right person. That’s it! To change his/her life is his/her personal task.
- Find your “Why?” When a person knows why he/she needs his/her job and profession, meaning appears in his decisions and actions. As a result, they get excitement and pleasure from the process and the result. “Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” — Confucius (probably). For me, this “a job you love” means finding a job that is of value to you. Only in this case will a person perform it well.
Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. Working remotely can be very different than working with a team that is in front of you. This provides great opportunities but it can also create unique challenges. To begin, can you articulate for our readers a few of the main benefits and opportunities of working remotely?
Remote work, just like office work, has a number of pros and cons. Here are some pros:
- saving time getting to the office — a person has an extra hour for breakfast with his/her family, for sleep;
- the ability to manage personal stuff — it can be included in the work schedule without losing efficiency;
- reducing stress and fatigue from traveling during rush hours and heavy traffic in the city.
The first two points were most appreciated by employees who have children. The third one is true for everyone.
Can you articulate for our readers what the five main challenges are regarding working remotely?
Remote work makes life difficult if you need to quickly solve a problem. It is even more difficult for beginners. In the office, the new employee is surrounded by people who can quickly give the right advice. It is much more difficult to dive into the work process remotely.
If we are talking about employees who do not need to be brought up to date, then here is my rating of cons:
- Lack of quick access to people. In the office, it’s easy to walk up to a colleague and ask a question. This option becomes more important if the task cannot be postponed. In the remote work mode, you need to text, possibly call. The latter is an extremely unpleasant thing. Few people like to break into the personal space of another person.
- All issues take longer to resolve. This point is related to the previous one — there is no way to approach a person and ask a question. You need to text and wait for an answer.
- It is difficult to maintain a team spirit. In large companies, people may not know each other anyway. Working remotely all the time, people may not see their colleagues for years. This makes it difficult to build cohesion. As a result, people may not strive to help each other in resolving issues that much. Like, this is not my problem.
- Difficulty with self-discipline. A regular visit to the office is a kind of ritual that sets you up for concentration and productive work. At home, a person has many temptations, being distracted by which a person can “stretch” his working day.
- It is difficult to organize a normal workplace where it is possible to be alone. For example, the flat is too small or the employee has a large family that is also constantly at home — and this can affect productivity.
Based on your experience, what can one do to address or redress each of those challenges? Can you give a story or example for each?
We have a distributed HR team at TECHIIA holding. This means that each of the holding companies employs at least one HR manager. Someone remotely, someone from the office. Because of this, we do not see each other every day.
To keep in touch and feel like a team, we meet once a month (offline or online — depending on the situation). The topic of conversation is a retrospective: what interesting things happened for everyone in the company, what is planned. The meeting can be in the sharing format when we discuss a previously approved and interesting topic for everyone, or everyone shares insights.
In this example, you can see the answer to some of the challenges of remote work. In more detail, point by point, you can maintain the feeling of a team through joint activity. The best way is to go offline, play games, share interesting facts about yourself, and go kayaking.
In addition to outdoor activities, I recommend that you discuss the company’s goals, department goals, and team goals at regular intervals. The retrospective mentioned above works out for us well. It is imperative to tell the company news, any more or less important changes. People need to understand what is happening and where our ship is going.
To simplify operational communication, we remind our team how to set the vacation time, office or remote work options, weekends, and work hours. These options are available in Google Calendar, Slack, and other tools. This will make life much easier for those who work in different time zones.
At the start, we tell new colleagues that official news comes via email, urgent — via messengers. Intra-team communication takes place in their chats.
If there is a very urgent task, provided that you work remotely, you will have to be persistent, text more messages, perhaps call colleagues. I know that for some people this is one of the most difficult tasks. Same as for me. But the initiator of urgent communication does not solve personal problems, but business issues. Therefore, “this is his/her problem, not mine” is not an option.
When the first lockdown started, the company organized conditions for employees’ remote work. They had the opportunity to bring home equipment and a work chair. The company promptly shared the news, supported employees, and held team-bonding events. For example, we made an “online kitchen” — a video meeting where everyone could enter to “have a cup of coffee” and chat with a random colleague. When it became possible to visit the office, we ensured security measures and made it possible for everyone to come at any time.
Let’s talk about Career Development. Can you share a few ideas about how you can nurture and advance your career when you are working from home and away from other colleagues?
I find it easier to grow for a company that has a remote-work option as part of its lifestyle. Here everyone has more or less equal conditions. But for those working in a hybrid format, it will be more difficult.
Firstly, the one who always goes to the office is visible more often. Accordingly, his or her work is more visible — he or she is more credible.
Second, proactive employees are being promoted more often. Not those who offer a lot, but those who are ready to manage the changes that they proposed.
Thirdly, those who bring obvious benefits to the company, have completed projects, are more likely to grow. It is worth mentioning here the ability to articulate your professional value.
Fourth, grow those who help their leader get the next career step. It makes sense: the new position for your supervisor means a new position for you, as for his/her subordinate and the one who supported his/her career growth.
Can you share a few ideas about how employers or managers can help their team with career development?
The most difficult task in the world is to talk to people in a way that they will listen and hear. Each of our colleagues has ambitions, an understanding of what can be improved, a desire to learn something new. The task of HR is to learn how to do it yourself, and to teach the heads of departments to talk that way.
On the other hand, it is highly important that the employee does not perceive the manager in particular and the company as a whole as a parent. The employer will not develop every subordinate, will not promote and solve problems simply because no one has such resources. Each of us is responsible for our careers.
To get help, promotion, and development from the company, you need to ask questions about new opportunities, request feedback from your direct supervisor and/or HR, and look for yourself. The employer can give what you want only in response to a request.
I feel sad watching people quit because they were not noticed or appreciated. At the same time, the leader did not know that the person wanted something. And I cannot blame the manager for this if the employee did not initiate the conversation on his/her own.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
There is a particular idea which I’d like to implement in case I have the resources for it. We entered a time when it is normal to change professions several times during a career.
The problem that I would like to solve is the lack of a single information resource, where all new professions are gathered. There I would also add a section “Learn” — that is, courses in which a person can be taught new things. Of course, this does not apply to specialties with a high entry threshold — medicine, engineering, etc. Three years ago, my colleagues could not “close” the link builder’s vacancy — it was new and obscure, there were few applications for it. This suggests that training centers can be located directly in companies that seek people for new vacancies.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you for these great insights! We wish you continued success.
Thank you. It was a pleasure talking to you!
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