Job change in the midst of a pandemic
Dariana Erak Orbanić
Home » Dariana Erak Orbanić

Stories that start with “if someone had told me…” are often the best ones to share. So here goes one – if someone had told me that I’ll be in a completely new management role that I’ve never been before, in the middle of a global crisis, leading a team that serves a major part of the sales force in A1 Hrvatska, I would have told them…well, I would actually tell them – bring it on!

It might seem like an oxymoron – but stepping out of your comfort zone can become a habit, once you’ve experienced all the richness and growth one may get from it. Unexpected circumstances require adapting to them quickly and overcoming the obstacles along the way. We did both.

How do we serve our sales force?

The core of our work lies within supporting all our sales channels in their everyday direct contact with our customers. Our key responsibility is to actively work on continuous improvement of sales processes, to develop new and innovative sales tools, to coordinate all the sales-related business requirements and to integrate them within every activity in our company.

It requires innovation, creativity, collaboration, agility, flexibility, self-organization (and some project management skills 🙂 ). We often like to think of ourselves as a “bridge” between our frontline and the rest of the organization. And we keep the information flow constant in both directions

How we adapted to the new normal?

“Own it and do it” – the one true leading principle of our everyday team life.

On an operational note – this means continuous daily team collaboration, sharing ideas and expertise, as well as jumping in and stepping up when needed.

The team welcomed me with open hands and gave me their expertise, and I saw the opportunity to give back – through acting by servant leadership principles – giving the team a helping hand and helping them develop further and perform as highly as possible, with sharing enthusiasm for what we do and the energy to do it.

Right at the date of my fresh start with the team, we ended up in a nation-wide lockdown. One of the first tasks that had to be done was to support shift of our sales colleagues to working from home model, meaning to adapt our sales processes to run smoothly and continuously for the customers.

At that point in time, we were in a situation where none of us have been before. It wouldn’t be fair to say it was easy – we had to work extra, ask for help and engage a lot of colleagues and invent new solutions that no one tested or used before. Sometimes all we had was an idea and huge amount of calls and coordination activities during the day to implement it. We didn’t have “the perfect recipe” to follow, it wasn’t all fairy tales and roses, but we did it anyway. And all that while we never saw each other in the office.

If there is a bright spot as to how the crisis affected our current and future way of work, it is definitely that it strengthen the relationship amongst colleagues, regardless of the physical place of work – be it our office workplace or working from home – we never felt more connected.