Category: Teambuilding


Camargo Pharmaceutical Services: Valuing Employees from the Get-Go

At Camargo Pharmaceutical Services, Erica Forrest and Stacy Schnieber have carefully cultivated a workplace culture in which a positive employee experience drives subsequent HR goals. In this edition of Core Shines a Light, we’re sharing a rundown of Camargo’s best practices.

Nurturing relationships with new hires: “We’re here and we care”

Camargo implements a 90-day onboarding strategy to engage new employees as they transition into the company. They’ve designed this strategy with a keen focus on the following attributes:

  • Relationship-building, identifying sources of motivation and expressing appreciation
  • Optimizing their HRIS system to streamline the employee experience and avoid disjointed and confusing paperwork
  • Creating checkpoints at two-week, sixty day and ninety day intervals to gauge progress, address concerns and give feedback

Camargo team members Andrea and Erica

The first two weeks at Camargo begin with honing in on customizing the employee experience with ‘get to know’ meetings/coffee breaks and networking opportunities with members from Senior Leadership (lunches and informal chat sessions.)

At sixty days, goals are set for the following quarter, to-date challenges are discussed and competency assessments are employed in order to identify ways to leverage employee strengths and areas of opportunity. Camargo has found that this gives direction and builds personalized strategies for achieving objectives.

At ninety days new employees benefit from an extended meeting with their manager, complete an employee onboarding experience survey with suggestions strongly encouraged.

Camargo knows that the path to success doesn’t end with recruitment and onboarding. Their continued efforts to fuel an engaged and productive workforce is evident in their strategies for nurturing ongoing relationships, such as:

Fostering positivity and productivity by understanding the importance of employee satisfaction through:

  • Wellness initiatives: fresh fruit provided, lunch & learns, flu shot clinic, mini-massages
  • Employee celebration for birthdays and achievements
  • Opportunities for ongoing feedback on a quarterly basis
  • Ongoing professional training and development

Finally, Camargo follows the onboarding process with a continual commitment to engage employees via:

  • Weekly all-employee, company-provided lunches
  • Philanthropic events (community 5K, Adopt-A-Family)
  • Regular team-building events and activities at local venues (the Camargo team strives to support small businesses in their local community. They support Pipkins for weekly fruit, holiday gifts from Benchmark and facilitate team building at Houdini’s Escape Room in Montgomery

We hope you’ve been inspired with the openness and commitment to team from our friends at Camargo! Their ongoing efforts to exercise effective HR practices while reflecting company values illustrate that their team really does walk the talk by recognizing that “your people are your core.”

Keep up the great work, Camargo!

Core Shines a Light is a periodic spotlight on Human Resources best practices in the Greater Cincinnati area. Interested in sharing your workplace’s best practices? We’d love to hear from you! Contact Amy Clark at

Stop to smell the roses (literally)

We all get caught up in today’s pace. It’s a constant hustle and bustle. In many ways, this pace has brought about advantages for our companies. We’re pushing boundaries, innovating new and better ways of doing things, producing to higher standards. However, there are also clearly some drawbacks. Unfortunately many of these drawbacks are people-oriented: burn out and inattention to personal wellness, toxic relationships, and decisions often made without regard to the employees who execute your strategy.

RecognitionI’m writing this post as a reminder to myself and others to stop and smell the roses. We had a client last week do just that. After a multi-month project to digitize files, this rockstar team completed the final one. Was this the “sexiest,” most meaningful, or greatest thrill of a project? No, but it had to get done for the efficiency of their operations and the ultimate value they provide their clients.

It would have been so easy for them to check it off the list and move on (our lists are long, and there are always more deadlines looming!). Lucky for them, their CEO knew the importance of pausing for recognition and celebration. He surprised them with flowers and chocolates, and they recognized the achievement as a team during their morning huddle. Spirits were full and positive that day in the office (and I don’t think you have to be an I/O Psychologist to understand what that does to engagement and performance).

Moral of the story: I err on the side of idealism and tend to believe that we have the best of intentions, but unfortunately those intentions are often negated with the pace of our day. So let’s slow down when needed. Take a pause. Our workplaces are full of human beings – human beings with the need for connectedness, for appreciation, and for fulfillment with the hours they put in at work. And in fact, our business results are nothing (NOTHING!) without the hard work of the human beings who achieve them for us. So let’s not forget this.

Leading a Virtual Team: Part 1 of 4

networkIt has become the norm to find ourselves on a virtual team, and many of us are leading those teams. A friend of mine reached out recently asking for advice on this topic. She finds it challenging to inspire, engage and drive high performance from her dining room table. And I’d venture to bet she’s not alone.

As this is a highly relevant and critical topic for many, I have separated it into a series of posts over the next 4 weeks. I’ll focus on one overarching strategy per week, giving you time to devote attention to each one and consider how you might implement the suggestions with your team. Below are the four focus areas we’ll cover:

  1. Connect & Build Relationships
  2. Establish a Consistent Leadership Presence
  3. Perfect Team Communications
  4. Acquire & Develop the “Right” Talent for Virtual Teams

Please share your own experiences and advice throughout this series. I am certainly not the only one who can weigh in on this topic! Use the Comments section to connect with others throughout the series.

Here we go with Strategy #1 for acing your role as a virtual leader…

Connect & Build Relationships


First and foremost, it’s about relationships. Humans have an innate need to connect with one another, and this doesn’t go away when working on a virtual team. However, it is far too easy to treat relationships as transactional in the virtual world.  We can “hide” in our home office, complete our 5 tasks for the day, and then head out for happy hour with our local friends, who we don’t work with. This has created efficiencies in some areas, but any productivity gains you realize are at high risk of being reversed due to lack of loyalty and engagement.

Make sure you are connecting regularly with your virtual team, and make sure your team is connecting regularly with one another. When I say “connecting,” I mean everything from asking about their weekend and engaging in friendly banter about the upcoming SuperBowl, to sharing client successes and challenges and ideating around future offerings.  It needs to be both social and work-related. Why? Because the stronger our personal relationships are with one another, the stronger our business relationships will be. It will increase levels of trust and the influence you have on one another.

Think about this – who would you bend over backwards for at work? It’s likely someone who you know on a deeper level, and not just superficially through occasional work-related encounters. You need to build relationships with one another. Real relationships. Have names, faces, likes, dislikes, strengths, limitations, emotions. It’s not just “fluff” to connect socially with one another; it’s a business imperative.

Here’s an experiment – watch the video below.


Has watching that video put a voice behind these characters on the screen? A passion for this topic, possibly luring you to read on? Think about how to create this same human connection on a consistent basis amongst the virtual team you lead.


Hopefully I’ve convinced you of the importance of connecting your virtual team with each other and building meaningful relationships. Below are a few ideas of how you can do that. Please share any others you can contribute to this discussion!

1. As just demonstrated, turn your webcams on! Google Hangouts and Chat make it very easy to connect via webcams throughout the day as needs arise. Take advantage of the free tools that are out there. 
2. Establish 1 hour each week in an informal “chat room” setting to share what’s going well, where people are having challenges, etc. Keep it a consistent, recurring appointment on everyone’s calendar and support its importance as the team leader.  Recognize and reward team members when displaying the types of behaviors you wish to gain through this forum (sharing resources, collaboratively solving problems, collectively ideating on a topic). I would not overly-structure this forum, but I would ensure that it’s valuable time spent. It might require some prodding and light structure initially, but then I think you’ll see it being largely self-run by the team once they get into a groove. Consider giving it a catchy title like Team60, Monday Round-Up, Hump Day Happenings… 
3. Create a private Facebook page (for use during the work day too…this is their water cooler!). Model the way by being an active participant on the page yourself. Alternatively, you could create a team-specific hashtag on Twitter. What’s important is that you use the social media channel that the majority of your team is already using and is most comfortable with. That way, team happenings and collaboration just become part of their regular news feed. Discuss with your team to determine the best channel. 
4. Spend the first 5 minutes of your weekly team meetings doing a “Round Robin” on a selected topic, such as:

  • Top 3 lists, similar to a Letterman Top 10 (best clients and why, ingredients on a taco bar, movies on-demand, industry blogs, ideas for child birthday parties, etc.)
  • If I could be anywhere right now it would be…
  • Best food I’ve had this week was…
  • New LinkedIn connections to share
  • What I did to continue to develop myself last week (either personally or professionally)
  • What I want to stop hearing about in the news
  • What I couldn’t believe I heard about in the news
  • New charitable cause I’ve been following/supporting
  • Share a recipe – quick and easy

Placing a time cap on this part of your meeting will help keep it efficient. You could even gamify it a bit by putting up a digital clock on your web conferencing screen.

5. Create greater awareness of and transparency around team members and team dynamics, using tools such as (just to name a few): 

  • Gallup Strengths Finder – Have each team member take this assessment and share their Top 5 strengths with the group. Discuss how to best leverage the individual strengths on the team for greater collective team results. It’s only $10.00 USD per assessment. Click here to get started.
  • Wiley’s “5 Dysfunctions of a Team” Assessment (for use on intact teams; not brand new teams). Learn more here. This is an assessment that must be facilitated by a licensed provider. Contact Maggie Frye at maggie.frye@contact-core .com if you’re interested in discussing the potential of working with Core on this effort. Great tool for team buildings and offsites!
  • DiSC®personal “workplace personalities” assessment. This tool helps team members discover and value their behavioral differences, providing recommendations on how to work best with one another. Greater awareness of self and others will result. Learn more here. Again, Core can facilitate this process for you, so contact Maggie Frye at maggie.frye@contact-core .com to discuss. Great tool for team buildings and offsites!

The most important piece here is that you are creating a greater awareness of individual strengths, communication preferences, conflict styles, thought processes, values, etc. and then purposefully modifying your interactions with one another accordingly to enhance overall team dynamics and outcomes.

6. Convene in person. I know this post is focused on virtual team leadership, but to have a really strong team you have to leverage face-to-face, live interaction whenever possible. I recommend doing this during the initial onboarding of a new team member, and then at regular pre-established offsites during the year. I would convene the entire team annually at minimum, but bi-annually if budget and logistics allow.I spent 2 days in Pittsburgh with a team from Australia that I was working with a few years ago. Those are the only 2 days we have ever spent together in person, but to this day my relationships with those colleagues are stronger than anyone else I work with in the APAC region. Trust me, it’s worth the time and investment.What should you do when you convene? Anything that is more effective in-person (i.e., leave day-to-day tactics and operations out of it):

  • Socialize and have fun
  • Strategize and plan
  • Team build
7. Virtual Philanthropy – Empower each of your team members to lead a philanthropic effort of their choice, virtually of course, and rotate on a quarterly basis.  This could be contributing to a team blog to raise awareness of a particular issue/cause; collecting videos from each team member to send into their local Children’s hospital to brighten someone’s day; organizing a food or toy drive with shipments all coming into their home address and sharing final stats and pictures of your drop-off; hosting a virtual walk-a-thon or 5K at lunch one day with everyone getting sponsors and then sharing pictures from their afternoon jog, etc. Possibilities here are endless! Leave it up to the creativity of your team to decide what they want to do.


Remember to continue to follow this series and contribute your expertise on this topic. I will post additional Virtual Leadership strategies each week for the next three weeks. Here are the next 3 strategies we’ll explore, so stay tuned!

The Single Most Important Question Your Team Should Answer

teamworkI am currently sponsoring a project with 10 team members in 6 global office locations, 5 divisions, and 4 time zones. Enough to make your head spin, right? I also just recently joined a newly formed Advisory Council for a non-profit. We held our first meeting last week, and it is an exciting time as we define our vision and goals for the group.

Both of these current projects have reminded me of a valuable lesson I learned from Duke University’s Coach Krzyzewski (“Coach K”) at this year’s Leadercast event. Whether you’re working with a team of 3, 10, 20, or more, all local or dispersed around the globe, it’s important for the team to answer this vital question in order to be successful:

How are we going to live?

It’s kind of like the rules of the road – pass in the left lane, stop at red, don’t text, so on and so forth. The same rules of thumb need to be identified by any team working collectively to achieve a common goal (project team, product team, department, committee, etc.).

Below are a few questions your team should ask itself early on to define your own “rules of the road”.


Why does your team exist and what specific objectives do you need to accomplish?


How will you communicate with each other? What tools will you use? Consider things such as frequency, times, and locations of meetings; online collaboration tools such as Google Docs and/or social platforms; email distributions, etc.

Roles and Responsibilities

What is each individual team member expected to contribute to the achievement of your objectives? Is there a team lead, project manager, facilitator, note taker, etc.? Do you have sub-teams charged to drive specific initiatives? Most importantly – who brings the coffee and bagels and who organizes the celebratory happy hours?

Boundaries and Levels of Authority

What decision making powers does each member of the team have? Who can approve expenses, and up to what amounts?  What actions are team members empowered to take?

Relationships Outside of the Immediate Team

How will you work with other teams? Create Service Level Agreements where appropriate.

Standards/Code of Conduct

What behaviors does each team member expect from one another? Consider the following:

  • Participation/attendance (maybe you even define required attendance levels)
  • Sharing of duties – how flexible are your job roles? What is your overall philosophy toward helping each other out?
  • Challenge one another, but in a respectful way
  • Keep a positive attitude

One Final Note

When Coach K asked his U.S. Men’s Basketball Olympic Team how they wanted to live, they responded by saying, “always be on time to practice and always give it your all during practice.” In his past seven years as a Team U.S.A. coach, he’s never had anyone show up late and has never had a bad practice. Why? Because this rule was theirs. They owned it. They defined it. Therefore, they live it.

I encourage you to answer these questions with your fellow team members and document a charter for how you’re going to live.