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Management Tip of the Day

My average day as a Fellow in the GBCHealth office starts between 7-8am each day, running outside for 15min to grab a lunch to eat at my desk so I can multitask eating & working and leaving for the day around 6pm.  However, due to the strong and emotionally powerful work that GBCHealth and the Healthy Women Healthy Economies (HWHE) initiative in particular is putting in for women and girls health, it feels like the time and every day just flies by. 

As an Oncology Specialty Representative working in the fiel, I am fortunate that most of our divisional conference calls for the U.S. primarily encompass three adjacent time zones.  Shortly after joining GBCHealth, I found how challenging it can be to try and find an ideal time to coordinate global conference calls with attendees from Russia, Kenya, South Africa, China and California.  I learned quickly that we will all have to make sacrifices (i.e. time of day) and be respectful for each other’s when there is no perfect solution. NGO Management Tip of the day: The head of GBCHealth Human Resources forwards the Harvard Business Review’s “Management Tip of the Day” to all GBCHealth employees.  It has been an unassumingly helpful resource and I may try to incorporate the “management tip of the day” idea in some fashion when I return to my Pfizer position (i.e. Oncology-related Tip of the Week). Many of these tips I have had the good fortunate of learning and understanding by working at Pfizer.  Some tips were quite relevant, impactful and timely as I worked with a short-term consultant in South Africa on a project for the Healthy Women, Healthy Economies (HWHE) initiative. The email management tip I put into action was “use compassionate criticism –ask permission to give feedback, provide direct and honest feedback, give feedback often.” In South Africa, I learned from a fellow South African GBCHealth colleague that before a friend (or colleague) can accept something of value from (or formally disagree with) someone they respect, that person they respect must offer the item or solicit feedback a few (usually three) times before the person can formally accept (or outwardly disagree).  I found this out when the GBCHealth office receptionist had asked what I and another NYC based colleague wanted for lunch.  When I tried to give her money for all the food as I was going to buy lunch for the office (5 of us), she had refused until the fourth time I had offered but then gladly accepted.  In my travels in South Africa, I found that virtually everyone was very friendly and really went out of their way to please and not show any disrespect… or even disappointment.  In fact, the work we did while in South Africa was so rewarding, I will most likely be heading back to South Africa on a personal trip after this fellowship on the first available opportunity. Working cross culturally using email can create subtle communication challenges as well. For example, email doesn’t share facial expressions and the interpretation of words can be very different than intended.   My experience with US-based communications are that they much more direct and forthright than many other cultures around the globe (even more so coming out of New York City).  While the intention is to get to the “root” of an issue or idea quicker, it can be perceived as aggressive by other non-US cultures.  Taking the time to ask for permission to provide honest and direct criticism/feedback demonstrates respectfully considering the impact of comments on the other party.  The recipient of the email will be less likely to interpret criticism as overly aggressive or dominant and can allow for their true concerns to be voiced and explored, allowing for progress that is mutually beneficial.  Even subtle and simple greetings/concerns for personal wellbeing (such as “I hope you are well” or “How are you doing today?”) before you communicate the primary reason of the email or phone call, provides more productive interactions with many different African (and many more) cultures outside the US. I bid you a goodbye, South African style… “Salani kahle! Ngiyabonga,” which translates (in Zulu) to “Stay Well!” and “Thank you” respectively. Todd To improve global health knowledge and awareness… check out these links below. PMTCT = Preventing Mother-to-Child Transmission (WHO document- http://www.who.int/hiv/pub/mtct/strategic_vision/en/index.html) GHI = Global Health Initiative (http://www.ghi.gov/) PEPFAR = U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (http://www.pepfar.gov/) UNF = United Nations Foundation (http://www.unfoundation.org/) NCDs = Non-Communicable Diseases (http://www.ncdalliance.org/node/51)

  

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