A couple weeks ago, I connected with all Audi China managers over an engaging hour. I shared my thoughts on how to motivate teams remotely and deepen team connection. Our Q&A session with the over 60 leaders was particularly dynamic! 3 questions demonstrate the 3 ways Audi is driving change.

1. How do we engage our people virtually?

3 ways Audi is driving change: How to engage people slide
First, let’s remember it’s not about our “subordinates.” Best to also walk away from the language of “employees.” Because at the end of the day, we’re all people. Much more relatable, and conducive to empathetic thinking. We discussed curating both Expected and Unexpected experiences for our people:
  • Expected: These habits and processes create a sense of comfort and safety within the organization.
    • Managers should establish a rhythm of regular meetings. Every meeting should come with a clear agenda, expectations, and desired outcome. In fact, I encourage us to decline meetings that don’t come with this information. This ensures we establish efficient habits and orchestrate effective meetings.
    • Leaders must define a clear process for important updates or escalation. We should ensure all functions are aligned and hold people accountable. After all, a process is only helpful if it’s operational; words on a page are meaningless without action.
    • We should never underestimate the importance of consistent visibility. Think about your schedule: how easy is it for you to spend 80-90% of the day in your office, as folks cycle in and out? What about those who aren’t meeting with you? Maintain visibility and approachability, which is critical to broader organizational engagement.
  • Unexpected: These occasional engagements inject delight and joy into our daily and weekly routines!
    • Periodically, set up fun events. Perhaps it’s Children’s Day and you decide to invite all kids into the office for some games. Or perhaps you buy small plants for everyone to place at their desks. Donations earn you a cool pin.
    • Prepare surprise gifts. These demonstrate love and care, and they’re so much fun! Like the bracelets we co-created with Fernanda Sung for Chinese New Year. We stuffed them in our 红包 (customary CNY cash bonuses).
    • Create reasons to celebrate, which deliver our key messages as a company. For instance, when we won a few Olympics-related projects, we spontaneously decided to hold a McCann Olympics. We held fun winter sports on every floor. Clearly, these weren’t fancy and didn’t cost a lot, but brought a lot of fun and laughter to the place!
3 ways Audi is driving change: McCann Unexpected Events

2. How do you have so much energy and create time for what’s important?

3 ways Audi is driving change: Energy management slide

Well, I admit it – I do have a lot of energy. To some extent, I was born this way. But over the years, I’ve also learned to manage my energy with a series of habits. They span from Micro moments to Macro practices. I think the above is pretty self-explanatory. But maybe two definitions are worth touching on:

  • MICRO – Block and color code your schedule, integrating your work and family schedules. This is practical, because it avoids schedule clashes. Also, it helps ensure you’re spending time on the things you deem to be a priority. By the way, BIO = Bio breaks. After all, we’re not robots! And WAT = Walking Around Time. It’s not unusual to spend all day in meeting rooms, or even in your own office. But what about that consistent leadership visibility we talked about before? Build in 10min WAT at least once a day.
  • MACRO – No one’s run rate should be at 100%. We need to leave a little flex capacity so that we can ramp up to 120% when something urgent requires extra time and attention. See, if you’re running at 100%, you leave no flex capacity for yourself. You’ll either lack the capacity to meet unexpected needs, or you burn out quickly. So, identifying your run rate (is it 85%? 90%?) allows you to retain that flex capacity when needed. Then, of course, we must remember that replenishment time is needed after we charge above 100%. Be gracious with yourself, recognizing you’ll operate better if given the chance for recovery.

3. How do you change ingrained habits in the organization?

Yes, indeed this is a difficult endeavor! So, instead of setting lofty ambitions and trying to build habits towards them, flip your model. Instead of setting top-down goals, start building from the bottom up. Establish one small habit and then amplify it. Because new actions become habits over time, which evolve your and your organization’s behavior. After all, how we operate defines what we do, and what we do defines who we are.

Well, these are 3 ways Audi is driving change. I’d love to hear – what are your tips for driving change?

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#leadership #employeeengagement #remotework #virtualwork #energymanagement #changemanagement #employeeexperience