Know Your Colleagues
Marcos Torres - Know Your Colleagues
Featured Speaker, April 15th, 2021
Thank you, thank you sir. Thank you Kelvin, thank you Laruen. Kelvin, how the hell do I follow that introduction? How do I do that?
So look, I want – the world, as has been said by the other participants on the panel, the world has changed dramatically and it's done so incredibly quickly. Not just COVID but also the demands of work are even more than they were before. And folks are, you know, as has been said earlier, working incredible hours.
I was talking to my son the other day though told me it was Wednesday and I thought it was Thursday. And then we started saying it's Blursday, because it's all a blur, right. Like Blursday. So it's like Saturday I was working, I got up one morning and [unintelligible 00:01:49] some work and my wife told me that it was Saturday. I thought it was Friday.
So just the comments that were made earlier. I think people have been incredibly critical in this time of working from home in terms of just like the togetherness, the humanity of you connecting with people. I've gotten to know more of my employees during this year of COVID than I ever did before. And it wasn't that I wasn't interacting with them socially before, but it's that I went out of my way to make sure that I knew what they were up to because there were colleagues who – you know, colleagues' parent who died of COVID. Folks who had distant relatives who died of COVID. And so I wanted to really dig in and understand that and be a leader for them.
And so that was – that direct and open communication and more importantly as was said earlier, the listening skill right? This is all – a lot of this stuff that we're practicing now from a leadership perspective during COVID is stuff that our kindergarten teachers tried to teach us, right? They're very basic things that you're going back to. Very long lasting principles that survived any pandemic or any turbulence.
And so the training and development has been a huge component of this. Spending time, really getting to know my employees, in that process really studying where they could be better. And where they want to be better and, and matching that up and doing some virtual training for them.
You know, in our business, in the investment banking business, they always talk about KYC, know your customer, right? Before you do a deal. It's a big compliance term in my industry. And so – I like KYC. I call it know your clients and know your colleagues. And the colleague part is incredibly important. Know you colleagues is super, super important.
Have an open mind always, as was said earlier. There are a lot of – I am shocked. I have about a hundred fulltime folks how started in June who have not seen an office. This is – they just came out of college and they've been working professionally in banking and doing 80 to 100 hours a week including working on weekends, and they've not seen a person physically since they began.
So the demands on those folks and those young folks are incredibly complicated. Just from a – even training and development perspective, learning how to model, learning how to do presentations, learning how to present, frankly, in a physical world. And so it's been incredibly challenging.
You know, one thing that I like to think of just to keep me honest is the word black, like the word black is interesting. So B for be real and human, L for listening intensely, A, ask a lot of questions. C, compassionately coach – and that's an interesting and kind of complicated term, but compassionately coach. And then K is the topic I talked about earlier, know your customer, know your colleague.
And I think that those things kind of crystalize stuff because as we return back to work, we learned some incredibly valuable lessons during this pandemic that I think we've become incredibly more efficient, we talk to each other a lot more, we think about each other a lot more. And just the sheer amount of work – 2020 was the best year that I've ever had in my 22 years of banking, and one of the best years that my firm's ever had. And my group for sure, the business that I run, the media and communications business had the best year ever. And I've been at RBC for nine years and prior to that I was at JP Morgan for 15 years.
I think as you step back and listen, I've learned everything that I've learned about leadership through this pandemic has been from listening. From merely asking questions. Having what we call Chat and Chews. So I get up every Saturday and every Sunday morning, I'll have a breakfast session virtually with just one person. One employee. And we'll do that for 30 minutes. And we'll talk about stuff that to this day surprises me because it's stuff that I just did not know about people. Which is, you know, it's interesting in its own right, but it's really cool to get to know somebody that intensely. And so the Chat and Chews have been incredibly helpful.
The thinking about and embracing technology in – when we come back to work right? So not forgetting about the way technology helped us get through this, but also not over – you know, getting the Zoom fatigue, as Lauren calls it, and going back to that scenario.
So is work ever going to be the same? Of course not. We're probably going to be working from home a couple of days a week. And we've instituted the comment that others made earlier around just giving people days off, making sure they get mandatory time off. Having the Chat and Chews as I mentioned with people, doing a lot of leveraging on employee resource groups, or ERGs to put on virtual content that speaks directly to the issues of the time. Not to theoretical philosophical issues, but the mental health issues that we're dealing with right?
Like, how does, for example, a person of a diverse background really succeed in this virtual environment when they had issues when the world was together, right? When folks were physically in person. And so those nuanced issues, I have the privilege of chairing our firm's diversity leadership council and I sit on our investment banking management committee and we deal with all these very, very nuanced issues. And I am just shocked at the end of the day of how often we sometimes get lost in our world and forget about humanity. Forget about being human, about having a conversation and listening.
So again, to me it's all back to basics. It's all back to what Miss [Acosta 00:07:01], my kindergarten teacher taught me around being nice, right? Doing the right things. Listening, asking questions, not interrupting people, instead of an email call people. So back to basics.
Thank you for having me.