[INTERVIEW] Sandra Jovović: When you work for a long time leading teams, there is a great chance you're using...
Sandra Jovović, Regional Director for the Rijeka region at Generali osiguranje, knows how to motivate different personalities within the team, remaining consistent with the company's goals and values.

From a small team, which did not exceed 10 people, to large teams numbering 75 and even up to 100 people in the region, the road was challenging. How to motivate different personalities, goals and worldviews within the team, and still remain consistent with yourself, your own values ​​and goals, and all in accordance with the company’s values ​​and how Improv3 helped her in this, revealed Sandra Jovović, Regional Director for Rijeka, Generals insurance.

1. How long have you been a leader and can you give us a little description of your path to that role?

My experience began in 2002. by leading a small team that did not exceed 10 members, and after five years of experience and the results we achieved, my superiors entrusted me with the responsibility of leading the team from the position of internal sales director, which meant increasing the number of people and activities.

From 2007 until today, I lead and am responsible for the performance and results of larger teams and that number in these 13 years ranges from 75 to 100 employees in the region, as an organizational unit of the insurance company. I gained total work experience in the insurance business, and the path can be described as a school example if we take into account that before my managerial positions I also worked in the sales and administration of this business.

2. What is your biggest challenge?

It seems to me that each period of life has brought its own challenges in a professional sense, and from today’s perspective it seems challenging to motivate different personalities, goals and worldviews within the team, and still remain consistent with yourself, your own values ​​and goals – all of course in accordance with company values.

3. In your opinion, what is the role of a team leader and what of an HR department in encouraging/maintaining employee engagement?

The manager encourages employees through daily tasks and very often intuitively works on the engagement of the team he leads, and the HR department acts on the entire company with its focused professional activities.

The contribution of the HR department is very important in attracting people who bring new value, creating organizational culture and helping each leader for personal development and education and development of employees to increase employee engagement, which is a common goal.

4. What do you do when you recognize a decrease in team engagement?

Experience has taught me that most employees want to have a “bigger picture” and want to be familiar with situations, and most of all changes. For this reason, I always start with a conversation because as a leader we have a duty to stop and talk to employees, and give them all the necessary information so that they understand and incorporate them into their daily activities.

A conversation always seems to me like a reasonable step in identifying a reduction in engagement.

5. What are some of the most effective ways managers engage their employees?

By talking, expressing care and openness, encouraging independence in work and decision making. Honest and frequent feedback based on trust and encouraging development.

6. How do you do it?

The most accurate and honest answer would be intuitive. When you work for a long time leading a team/teams, there is a great chance that you use all available ways to make things work and to achieve our goals. As I first gained experience in my work and learned from it, and only later had the opportunity to return to the experienced situations and apply theoretical knowledge and learn lessons, I would say that I primarily use the way of showing by my own example.

It’s not always the most effective, but I consider it a natural action if you want to be a mover.

7. How often do you measure employee engagement in your team? How often do you think this should be measured?

I leave the measurement activity with full confidence to the HR department and I am committed to conveying as many people as possible to express their opinion in the offered surveys, and on any topic. I encourage them by underlining the thesis that their/our opinion is important and that they do not miss the opportunity to express it.

The dynamics depend on the topics for which an opinion is sought, but there are certainly topics that are always and constantly important and it would be good to have a semi-annual continuity.

8. What do you do when you get the measurement results? Do you comment on them along with the team?

I always comment on the measurement results with the team because if the results are good it is an opportunity for all of us to feel satisfaction that a good way of working is recognized, and for all of us to see together in which areas we need to improve.

9. What do you do when you receive feedback that indicates poor interpersonal relationships on the team?

First, I consult with the HR department in case the comments/results are not clear to me. I feel a responsibility in further commenting with the team given that interpersonal relationships are an important link in the functioning of the team. I then consider the steps to address the dissatisfaction that has arisen.

10. In your experience so far, what is the best way to raise a positive climate among employees?

Make a systematic plan to talk to individuals, teams and go through all the tasks and activities we work on and the difficulties they encounter. See what we can change together, what conclusions they came to without perhaps having had a chance to portray them. This way of cooperation has personally brought me benefits in work and a good climate.

We had the opportunity to use the Improv3 platform 3 times in last few months, in this much different and challenging year for all of us. It really was our fastest and most accurate indicator of whether we had met the expectations of our people, organizationally and humanly. It was challenging to get organized, adapt to the work situation from home, ensure that business activities do not stop, and that each individual feels safe and has confidence in the company in which he works.

I think most of us had doubts about whether everything was as it should be, whether all the messages clearly reached every member of the team, whether we overlooked something… None of us have ever encountered a situation like this. Personally, the results of the survey brought me confirmation of the direction, areas we can act on immediately and the feeling that we all thought together how to remain a good team despite many ambiguities and worries.

If you want to increase your team’s engagement, get employee feedback in real time and influence the progress of the entire company – try Improv3.

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