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Remote Career Development: Andrew Moyer Of Reputation Partners On How To Advance and Enhance Your Career When You Are Working Remotely

An Interview With David Liu

Trust — This goes for both trust in your employees but also trust in yourself. Working remotely has introduced an entirely new level of trust in the employer-employee relationship with on-site check ins replaced with individual accountability to get the work done.

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 Andrew Moyer.

As GM, Andrew is responsible for leading the RP team and serving as one of the firm’s top client counselors. Andrew works with clients on strategic communications, proactive and reactive crisis and issues preparedness and reputation management programs.

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”?

I’m a native Wisconsinite who has been living south of the cheddar curtain for the last decade. My career started out in the public sector and in/around campaigns and elections before I pivoted to the private sector and strategic communications and crisis management. It’s (mostly) a joke, but everything in government is a bit of a crisis so it was good training. In reality, the transferable skill set truly aligns well. Gaining the ability to manage competing priorities, projects and personalities — all while clearly articulating the key message — set me up well for the transition from the public sector to the private sector. I think my journey so far shows that there are other, atypical paths, to a career in communications.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I had a hard time with this question but what I kept coming back to was that every “interesting story” I thought of ultimately revolved around the people I was with. I’ve been incredibly lucky that throughout my career I’ve work at jobs where I’ve developed strong personal and professional relationships. Those people have always been what has brought me the most fulfillment at work, inspired my career twists and turns and continue to make it interesting every day.

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?

As my first “real” job after college, I was appointed to serve as the incoming Governor’s “body guy.” For West Wing fans think Charlie. I was the Governor’s personal assistant and would travel with him everywhere he went. Literally my first day on the job I was so proud of myself, I was prepared and had remembered to bring a bottle of his favorite tea for the car ride that morning. So, the Governor gets in the front seat, and I reach into my bag to grab the tea and hand it to him…unfortunately, the bottle has some condensation on it and as I reached it forward it slipped out of my hand and landed in his lap. The Governor looks at me and then turns to the security detail driving that day and says, ‘did you see that, the new kid just threw a bottle at me…what are you going to do about it?!’ I was mortified. Thankfully the Governor was an incredibly forgiving person — and loved to have fun with his staff so he didn’t make me squirm too long before laughing. Needless to say, I was MUCH more careful in the future when I threw, I mean hand, bottles of tea to the Governor. The lesson here, it is great to be prepared, but you have to also be sure you can be flexible and quick on your feet.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Without a doubt, it is “be serious about yourself, but don’t take yourself too seriously.” The ability to have fun and not let things get to you too much, or take them too personally, while at the same time being dependable and steady in your work has served me incredibly well.

What advice would you give to other business leaders to help their employees thrive and avoid burnout?

I’m surprised that this isn’t as clear as it seems it should be, but it is pretty simple — listen to your employees and then demonstrate with actions that you are hearing them. Be present and part of the conversation with them. You may not be able to do everything your employees want, but if you are being clear about what you can, and can’t do, and following through with tangible actions you can build employee engagement, company culture, and ultimately productivity. Equally, if not more important than active listening to your employees, in remote or hybrid work environments, leaders need to be more proactive in checking in with their teams in a consistent way. I’ve always had an open-door policy where coworkers could just pop into my office to catch up, discuss any concerns or bounce ideas around. Without the physical proximity, you need to be very intentional about maintaining, or re-establishing, those accessible lines of communication.

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?

The shortest way to summarize the benefit is flexibility. Working remotely, you are in control of your work environment and your schedule (to a certain extent) in a way that is not possible in a full-time office setting. If you are the type of person that needs to get up and walk around, to clear your head and come back to something with a fresh perspective it is a lot easier to take a quick walk or go for a quick run at home than it is would be at the office. Do you need absolute silence to concentrate, or do you prefer background music or noise to block other sounds out — whichever works best for you is available at home? Having control of those little extra decisions or conditions really can change your perspective on your job and your satisfaction with work. Another time-related benefit is the commuting time that can be refocused when you aren’t traveling to and from the office. RP has always had a strong culture around maintaining a positive work-life balance and, while I do miss the ability to catch up on my favorite podcasts during the commute, on the whole, I enjoy the extra time in the morning to spend with my family or get chores done around the house.

Can you articulate for our readers what the five main challenges are regarding working remotely?

  1. Burnout — Working from home has been a double-edged sword for many with flexibility meaning you can largely dictate when projects get completed throughout the full day — not just a standard workday. This also means though that work can creep into all hours of the day if you don’t set some structure and limits for your team. If you don’t set those, and stick to them, you run the risk of getting stuck in an exhausting “Groundhog’s Day” cycle that has all seven days of the week feeling very similar — not giving you a chance to take a break, step away and reset.
  2. Culture — I think the teams that have done the best to maintain their culture are the ones that found ways to still celebrate together regularly in the new remote environment — weekly virtual happy hours, Zoom wine tasting, etc. Any way to maintain that connection with each other outside of strictly work conversations (for example, a few of us at RP have a dedicated chat in Teams going where we discuss all things Ted Lasso — Believe!).
  3. Trust — This goes for both trust in your employees but also trust in yourself. Working remotely has introduced an entirely new level of trust in the employer-employee relationship with on-site check ins replaced with individual accountability to get the work done.
  4. Technology — How many times over the last 18 months have you heard “You’re on mute still…” or “Sorry, my internet is a little spotty today…”?
  5. Attention/Focus — When you can stretch the workday out to more than 8 hours, and the work week to more than five days, the tendency can be to push things off and procrastinate until the last moment. Telling yourself “I can get to that later tonight or this weekend.” Beyond burning yourself out the quality of your work can be negatively impacted.

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?

Across all of these the critical action you can take to prevent employees, and yourself, from experiencing the worst of the challenges is to communicate. Do it early and do it often (and transparently). You need to set expectations for yourself, and you need to clearly share them with your manager/team/etc. When you are having an issue, or a challenge be sure you are updating others if you will need extra time on a project or flagging when you truly need support. I’ve found one of the unexpected benefits of working from home is in many ways a strengthening of the bonds between teams. You really need to know, and trust that others are there to jump in for you because they know and trust that you will do the same for them. Up and down our agency, I know that when I am not able to get to something I can depend on a colleague to step up and cover for me. At the same time, I trust that they know the same is true for me if they need it.

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?

Being physically away from friends, colleagues, and networking opportunities doesn’t mean those are not still a part of your life or available to you. There has been a dramatic shift in how people continue to connect online that I see being maintained at least somewhat even as in-person events ramp back up. You can still schedule that catch-up, just does it virtually and send your friend a $5 digital gift card so you can still get them that cup of coffee. The same goes for developing your own thought leadership platform and knowledge sharing across your organization. At RP we’ve looked to really empower all or our employees to proactively set up a “lunch and learn” during one of our regular virtual team meetings. I believe working remotely has really opened these opportunities up to more people than might have been included previously. Additionally, some employees may find it easier to present to their colleagues when they are not in person which could keep valuable insights from being socialized.

Can you share a few ideas about how employers or managers can help their team with career development?

Let’s assume here that any technical skills training that is needed is part of your professional development program, but so many of the skills that can help employees advance and grow their careers are the non-technical “soft” skills. Things like delegation, delivering feedback, and managing others. Yes, there are certain classes and books that can give the classroom perspective on these topics, but what I’ve seen work best is providing employees with the opportunities to experience these directly and learn by doing. Sometimes this does mean pushing employees into things they are uncomfortable with — the key here for supporting career development is making sure that they know you’ve set up an appropriate safety net so the experience can feel educational and not like a failure if it doesn’t go as planned. For example, we’ve put a few early-career employees through a version of the media training we offer to clients to help them work on their own public speaking and effective communication skills, and we’re looking to do a similar program where employees can go through a mock new business pitch with colleagues to get more comfortable presenting.

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. :-)

No pressure with this one! It can be tempting to focus on those truly big ideas that have broad application, and for good reason with so many issues requiring a global focus and response. I would encourage each of us though to not let the scale get in the way of just getting started — sort of a “good vs great” argument if you will. Start small and focus locally. If each of us does that one little thing the global impact will be immense. Find a way in your community to help those in need by volunteering at a youth center, spending time to clean up your street or a local park or delivering meals to individuals who are homebound. Inspire each other individually and we can change the world.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

LinkedIn and at any of Reputation Partners’ channels.

Thank you for these great insights! We wish you continued success.

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David Liu

David Liu

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David is the founder and CEO of Deltapath, a unified communications company that liberates organizations from the barriers of effective communication