Get to know the people in your team! Put effort into actively listening to them. You must listen to understand them, who they are, and what motivates them, not just to reply.

Asa part of our series about the five things you need to successfully manage a remote team, I had the pleasure of interviewing Camilla Anderson.

A natural born leader and storyteller, Camilla lives to create and produce stories and experiences by building and curating teams who are optimized and motivated to deliver.

An eternal optimist, she is always looking to push boundaries while solving the problem. Camilla is curious and full of ideas, driven each day fueled by the possibilities to connect with the world around me.

Camilla has over 20 years experience in Producing across all mediums and all platforms from international broadcast television to commercial and branded content.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. What is your “backstory”?

The best way to sum up my story is to say that my path to where I am today has not been traditional in any sense. I graduated film school deciding to be a producer and simply found people to start producing for — short films, music videos, etc. I convinced people that I could do it as I went. I didn’t join a production company and work my way up; I just got to it. I started in the broadcast side, and the highlight of that part of my career was producing, directing, and hosting several series for The Travel Channel. It took me to over 60 countries and was the biggest and best education I have ever had. I also dabbled in the music promotion industry for a few years, touring large acts in New Zealand and Australia. Again, that was simply me realizing that, like producing, it’s about figuring out how to solve the problem — get from A to B. About six years ago, a good friend who worked in advertising at a large agency convinced me to take a role there. They were trying to find new ways and approaches to production and serving clients since the world had changed, but many large agencies were lagging behind. Still working in the old ways was no longer fit for their purposes. That is how I ended up moving to, as the broadcast side often calls it, ‘the dark but more lucrative side’ of the industry. However, I loved the job, and I got to solve client problems with solutions they had never been presented before. I started with Edisen about four years ago, beginning in an Executive Producer role in APAC (Singapore). About six months in, I was promoted to Managing Director, then later regional CEO for APAC. However, I most recently took up the Global role of Chief People Officer. It might appear a bit leftfield to take this role with no traditional path in HR, but I love building teams and finding and nurturing the best talent. I also get a real kick out of seeing people engage with what they do, and I just love people and understanding how they tick.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Wow, there have been so many. It is hard to choose one particular one as I have had so many surreal experiences when making the Travel Shows. These experiences include being in the ring with Luchadoras (masked female wrestlers) in Mexico City, spending an afternoon with the infamous Michael Jackson dancing inmates at the main prison in Cebu, Philippines, and swimming with whales in Tahiti. I really have been blessed with interesting stories and a career I could not have dreamed of.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I think some of the funniest moments I had were when I had just ‘switched’ industries and not yet learned the industry lingo or acronyms. The world of advertising agencies has the most; I almost wanted to create a glossary for new starters so they could move fast. It was ‘late’ in my career, but right at the start of my career in advertising when I didn’t know what a ‘super’ was. For those who don’t, it refers to the ‘superimposed text’ on an advertisement. Very important in these days of sound off viewing! However, we just called it text, or subtitles, in the world of broadcast. When I was in my first project, someone sent a WIP video of the edit, and the word ‘super’ was literally on every second shot, and I thought that was the actual text and that the product was being clumsily described over and over as “Super!”. Lesson learned is that no question is a stupid question and not to be afraid to ask!

Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. Most times when people quit their jobs they actually “quit their managers”. What are your thoughts on the best way to retain great talent today?

I would argue it has always been about retaining talent and understanding how people are motivated. However, the difference these days is that for many of us in the developed world, we have many more opportunities at our disposal, and we can make choices to go or stay based on more than financial needs and security. This is especially true for talented workers that don’t have other people depending on their salary.

So I think the best way to retain great talent, once you know that the compensation is competitive, is to look at their motivators. Are they someone that needs to be challenged, that wants to prove themselves? Or are they motivated by feeling autonomous and independent? Are they motivated to stay somewhere where they feel cared for and who they are beyond their role is recognized? (For example, a mother/father/fitness fanatic — whatever is their non-work priority). It’s true to say that providing a bit of all of these to great talent is good. However, typically one of these factors is a more significant motivator than others when looking at superstars you wish to retain, so make sure to do what you can to provide it to them.

How do you synchronize large teams to effectively work together?

This is a hard one, but my strategy has always been to craft the teams carefully. You want to be the puppet master to ensure you have stacked the team with the right blend of personalities to have each element needed to achieve the goals with an advocate. I realize this can also produce a level of tension, but if the team members are all focused on a common goal, then having this diversity of thought, even if there is some struggle to reach the goal, results in the best overall outcome. When doing it this way, it is also essential to have regular but efficient sprint meetings with open and direct communication. People going off and working solo when in large teams is not ideal. But conversely, long meetings are too often exhausting for people who actually want to use the time to work. It’s about finding the proper balance. I think teamwork for leaders is a constant act of awareness and balance. It’s about observing the team, taking the big view of all the players, and gently and constantly rebalancing as you reach the goal. Not easy, but for me, I love this part of the job!

Here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your personal experience, what are the “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Manage a Team”. (Please share a story or example for each, Ideally an example from your experience)

  1. Get to know the people in your team! Put effort into actively listening to them. You must listen to understand them, who they are, and what motivates them, not just to reply.
  2. Trust, even when it’s hard to. If you’ve asked someone in the team to do something, give them the benefit of the doubt from the start. Tell them what they need to achieve and let them come back to you on how to do it. If they need help, lead by asking questions that help them find the answer, not by giving them the answer.
  3. Share information and be as transparent as you can. The more people know the better decisions they can make. Transparency can be hard at times; it can feel like you are giving too much away, especially when it comes to things you think might offend or when you have to admit that as a leader you don’t know. But, in both those situations, as hard as it is, I have found people are relieved and actually start to trust you more when you are honest.
  4. Be a doer when you need to. Most leaders do need to spend their time doing strategic thinking and less of the execution. However, sometimes it is vital to show your team that you are a doer to earn their respect and also so that you understand the impact of the decisions you place on the team. Leaders who simply make decisions and instruct often find themselves with teams who might not cooperate as much when they really need them to.
  5. Enjoy leading, but be comfortably humble in your position. This is a tricky balance to strike. Remaining humble when you are a leader but still having the confidence and authority that teams need is crucial. I find that the best way to manage this for me is to really enjoy the role. When it causes me stress, I find a way to reconnect with the team and enjoy the personal connection to them as humans versus the leader/follower dynamic. Let them know your fears and joys in the role and ask about theirs. But also enjoy the thrill of making a decision, being that risk-taker that people rely on, and hopefully getting it right. Again, it’s that constant balancing act that is life, just in the microcosm of work.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

We are all the same: humans with needs and motivations. Truly get a kick out of connecting and understanding. You will end up with amazing connections, colleagues, and even friends for life.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would love to drive the kindness movement forward. I want to spread the idea of compassion and remind people that everyone has something they are dealing with that we don’t understand. So, be kind, always!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“You are the sky, everything else is just weather” — Pema Chodron. I love Pema Chodron, and her writings have changed my life. But this quote is what I like to recall every day because it works for both the good times and the bad. Everything passes, and everything changes. So don’t hang onto the good times as you will be disappointed when they pass, because they will. And the same applies to the bad times; they will pass. Just remain as calm and peaceful as you can. I know this is much easier said than done, but it’s a daily practice and a lifelong thing to apply!

In my life, I have taken on some crazy projects, which, when I was younger, would give me significant levels of stress. Learning this, albeit later in life, has been life-changing!

Thank you for your time, and your excellent insights! We wish you continued success.