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Fatherhood, Technology, and Cultivating Connection

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I have two very important roles to fill in my life: one is as an AvePoint co-founder/CEO, and the other is being a father to my four young children.

Even though my job requires me to fly around the world all the time, the latest technology allows me to keep in touch with them on a daily basis. I get to see their pictures, learn what they were up to that day, video chat with them, and talk about them with my wife no matter where I am in the world. In other words, technology allows me to be their father in a way people could not have dreamt of even 10 years ago.

Even though I cannot physically be near them all the time, I want to remain as a good, positive influence in their lives. I believe this sentiment is shared by many parents, my fellow AvePoint executives included.

As a relatively young company, AvePoint has a lot of younger executives and directors. This means that many of them have young families just like me and, because of that, we sometimes go through similar parental challenges around the same time.

sick cute boy sleep in bed with a thermometer in mouth and feel so vector id1084979090

We recently experienced just that—a few of our executives relocated to new offices/countries with their families and their young children mysteriously fell ill all of a sudden.

The parents initially suspected that this was the flu or some type of infection. Symptoms included not eating or sleeping, feeling sickly and, in some extreme cases, throwing up, collapsing, and being unable to participate in daily activities. Stranger still, typical medical exams couldn’t find anything wrong with them.

In the end, it turned out that our executives’ children were going through extreme stress caused by environment/cultural change and perceived isolation from their previous circle of friends.

Losing connection to the world they’re used to, moving into the new unknown world, getting familiar with new places and people, and often trying to understand new languages and cultures can be tremendously stressful and isolating even for adults. Imagine going through that as a young child!

Witnessing the stress of isolation manifesting in such a drastic way was a valuable lesson on how strong and deep our innate need for belonging and connection is.

That said, it’s not just young children who suffer from isolation and loss of connection; adults in the business world do as well!

Having communication issues within your org? This post from AvePoint has an interesting take: Click To Tweet

Take newly-installed managers who’re hired under the expectation of saving a fast-sinking department, branch, or company. Everybody expects them to instantly have a breakthrough and tackle the issue in no time like a superhero sweeping in and saving the day. From both headlines of the news and personal anecdotes, however, we all know that’s not always the case.

If you investigate why a new manager didn’t succeed, it almost always comes down to two issues: isolation and lack of connection within and outside of their department. Isolated managers who are just thrown into a new environment typically fail to perform.

This might be surprising to some; are these not the employees who usually get whatever resources they want or need? Well, the reasons behind it are quite simple:

 1. Connection and communication is not something you can create or demand out of thin air; it takes time to build, and

 2. Those managers are too “high up” to be welcomed as a peer, and might be too feared to be given support through “normal channels,” which is something that can gradually lead to isolation.

These executives don’t have time to go to the water cooler and chitchat. And even if they did, people wouldn’t talk to them the same way as their peers.

who will be the top choice picture id914811002

Given the undeniable power imbalance between managers and subordinates, it should not be on the latter to make this effort. Breaking through this cycle needs to be initiated and cultivated by other managers (and their managers) by providing a support system and ways to tap into the pulse of the group they’re leading.

Establishing communication channels within the company is crucial to avoiding social pitfalls like these, but it goes beyond that; this helps enable success at all levels of an organization. Proper communication channels help employees:

  • Get the critical information needed to make decisions and prioritize tasks
  • Keep up-to-date with an organization’s roadmap and how they can help move the business forward
  • Build rapport with other employees for better teamwork.

I’m proud to say that AvePoint is continuing to build this optimal communication infrastructure via Microsoft 365. Just like I can establish and maintain the relationship I cherish with my children via the latest technology, AvePoint members are embracing Microsoft 365 technology to build connections that are often beyond my imagination.

It’s been just 2 years since Microsoft Teams made its debut, and I’m absolutely amazed to see the positive change it has brought to organizations, AvePoint, and our customers alike.

They use Teams to exchange ideas and cultivate connections freely by seamlessly communicating with each other. On Yammer, members from all over the world share what they read and learn, come to the rescue of members in need, and celebrate wins and victories together with other members they might not have worked with yet.

Optimizing Yammer for teams 1

Working together like this is just part of daily life for AvePoint employees. This way of working helps us break down traditional departmental walls and silos much more easily than ever before.

That said, just having communication tools would do nothing to prevent isolation and information silos. Like how just having a good smartphone and powerful apps wouldn’t cultivate a connection with my children if I don’t use them, simply getting those tools is not enough. Combating this issue takes commitment, effort, and time, especially from c-levels and executives. From where I am, though, I believe it’s all worth it at the end of the day.

How about you, executives of the world? Are you going to embrace the new world of technology and make an effort to cultivate a culture of communication among your employees? I strongly suggest you do—after all, there’s no other way to banish isolation from your organization.

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Dr. Tianyi Jiang (TJ) co-founded AvePoint in 2001 and has served as the organization's Chief Executive Officer since 2005. TJ is responsible for overall strategy and direction of AvePoint, which includes product innovation, investor relations, and business development. He is focused on delivering value to customers, partners, shareholders, and the AvePoint team, every day. A recipient of Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award in New Jersey in 2010, TJ received both B.S. and master’s in electrical and computer engineering from Cornell University, and a Master of Philosophy and PhD in Data Mining from Department of Information Systems, Operations Management, and Statistics, Stern School of Business, New York University.



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