Interview with Sofie Koark
Organizational Health and Wellbeing for assistants
In this series of interviews, we are focusing on Career Wellbeing.
Did you know that according to Tom Rath and Jim Harter, Career Wellbeing is the most essential of the five wellbeing elements?
The full set of elements comprehends Career Wellbeing, Social Wellbeing, Financial Wellbeing, Physical Wellbeing, and Community Wellbeing. And this time, I asked the Executive Assistant, Sofie Koark, to share her tips about how to boost Career Wellbeing.
Sofie is proud of being a member of IMA – International Management Assistants. Her commitment to the organization goes beyond her duties as a member. She is both one of the board members of IMA Sweden and the Training Officer for the national group. She is just amazing!
In this interview, she explains the importance of building our career wellbeing based on professional and personal development, good relationships, and providing value to other people, or a cause.
JULIA: People with high Career Wellbeing are more than twice as likely to be thriving in their lives overall. To what extent is your career helping you succeed in life?
SOFIE: I work at a staffing and HR company, and we need to be skilled in employee engagement and creating good relationships to attract and retain the best people. I have learned a lot within “people skills", which is helpful in both work and life. It all comes down to people. The quality of your relationships determines the quality of life, quoting psychotherapist Esther Perel. The quality of your relationships at work determines the quality of your work and your ability to succeed. A job that you enjoy brings joy to your life.
JULIA: We need each other to grow personally and professionally. People that collaborate make great results happen. Can you share with us some tips on how we can ensure quality in our relationships at work?
SOFIE: Trust is the foundation so that you can be open and honest with your thoughts and give feedback, always with integrity and the best intentions. Respect shows that you value your colleagues’ input and ideas, and also their time. Empathy shows that you understand what they are feeling and can communicate wisely. The better and more effectively you communicate, the better your relationships will be. All good relationships depend on open, clear, and honest communication. I also think it is important to show appreciation, be positive, and have fun and share a lot of laughs with the people you work with. Lastly, own your mistakes and apologize. We all mess up sometimes.
JULIA: One of the essentials to having fun at work is getting the opportunity to use our strengths every day. When we build on our strengths and daily accomplishments, we simply learn more. How do you ensure that you have the opportunity to use your strengths every day at work?
SOFIE: Liking what I do and the people that I work with is essential to be able to use my strengths. Working for an organization with good values that appreciates me, helps me grow, and where I can feel proud about my contribution. In that environment, you can thrive and feel safe to try new things like saying yes to projects and responsibilities. When I have the freedom to develop my own role and decide how I work - as long as I deliver on results and goals - I am also using my strengths.
JULIA: A 1958 study conducted by the late George Gallup found that Career Wellbeing is one of the major differentiators that help us live into our 90s. A more recent study shows that people with high Career Wellbeing wake up every morning with something to look forward to doing that day. Which advice would you give to a colleague who has become a disengaged worker and is experiencing dramatic drops in happiness and interest at work?
SOFIE: Try to understand what the reason is to why you are not engaged. Is it the daily tasks, the company culture, not feeling appreciated or stimulated, or are you simply not enjoying what you do? We spend so much time at work, so if you do not enjoy where you are, it can be dangerous for your health and general happiness. It’s a situation that you need to do something about. See what actions you can take to possibly improve the situation or start looking for a new job that suits you better.
JULIA: Those with thriving Career Wellbeing have a deep purpose in life and a plan to attain their goals. In most cases, they have a leader or manager who makes them enthusiastic about the future and friends who share their passion. Who are the people encouraging your career growth?
SOFIE: I have the support of my manager and colleagues. They give me good feedback and learning possibilities, and also my network IMA (International Management Assistants) of colleagues at other workplaces. My IMA colleagues also push me to engage in all sorts of things. Like you, Julia, reaching out to me to share my thoughts in this interview.
Management Assistants are sometimes lonely in their position at their offices. Therefore, they have since many years, created an outstanding global community of support and development, which I find unique and very ambitious. It keeps on expanding, and we have benefited a lot from social media connecting us to be able to share best practice and encouragement globally.
JULIA: Sofie, I know you have a significant role as Training Officer at IMA Sweden and as part of the national board of directors. Tell us about this role and how it helps you boost the career wellbeing of others.
SOFIE: At IMA we all work on a voluntary basis to give value to our members in the form of training, networking, and career support. As the national Training Officer, I update the board on future trends and changes in our profession and suggest what we need to learn to stay current. I develop and strengthen cooperation with partners when it comes to events, seminars, and courses for our profession. I organize the yearly IMA Autumn seminar with relevant professional content, and I cooperate with the global organization on training matters. I also work actively in increasing visibility for the network and our profession, mainly through our social media, blog, webpage, etc.
JULIA: I believe that Management Assistants and Executive Assistants with a high Career Wellbeing are also ensuring themselves a sustainable career and increasing the value they provide to their company. How do you connect Career Wellbeing to sustainability?
SOFIE: Having a sense of purpose, that I am needed in this world, I think, is so fundamental for human happiness. Providing value to other people, or a cause, through work makes us feel good. Great Management Assistants know their value to the organization and how to work efficiently. We need to adapt to life-long learning and keep on evolving to fit future demands and remain an essential role to the managers and organizations. Having a good work-life balance (however you define it for yourself) is also necessary. To be sustainable health-wise - both at the individual and the organizational level - we need to do our part. It is a marathon, and we will be retiring later since we will live longer, so we need to take good care of ourselves and each other.
Thank you, Sofie, for reminding us that high career wellbeing is also attained by having a good balance in life and work. And even by helping others to have a sustainable career. We know your commitment to IMA - International Management Assistants is appreciated by your national group and members in general. So, let’s “take good care of ourselves and each other.”
This interview was first published on Organizational Health and Wellbeing for Assistants by Julia Schmidt.
More about Sofie Koark: She has 13 years of experience as Executive Assistant supporting Entrepreneurs/CEOs. Since 2012 she is Executive Assistant at Academic Work. She is a jury member of the prestigious Executive Assistant Awards in Sweden. Every year the jury elects the “Executive Assistant of the Year” based on nominations from managers and colleagues. She is a member of IMA Sweden.
About Julia Schmidt: She is an award-winning Executive Assistant with over 20 years of experience working in different industries. She is known for being a passionate advocate for people development and in helping others succeed and embrace their leadership skills. Julia is an active networker, mentor, and the author of The Executive Secretary Guide to Building a Successful Career Strategy, available now on Amazon. She is a member of IMA Norway.
Julia has been promoting organizational health and wellbeing among administrative professionals. She has been speaking at conferences, interviewing assistants and experts, and publishing articles about the subject. Julia has also created a website dedicated exclusively to sharing organizational wellbeing tips, successful stories, and articles www.facebook.com/organizational.health.wellbeing.for.assistants/