Random Acts of Kindness 365

Written by Kate Keune and Hillary Lorton

Diverse colleagues having a team building meeting with hands joined in centerEarlier this month we celebrated Random Acts of Kindness week, which is why you saw lots of #BuckeyeLove across campus. It has been great to see all these small gestures of kindness and gratitude highlighted, but in our organization, it is woven into the fabric of our OTDI family.

CIO Cindy Leavitt has a senior leadership team touch base every Friday morning for 15 minutes, and the entire topic is gratitude. So often, what I share that I am grateful for is our quirky not-so-little IT family. For over 21 years on this team, not a day has gone by where I haven’t felt that someone has reached out to see how I was doing or to make me laugh. Each of those interactions has created essential bonds.

That’s the thing…kindness isn’t a nice-to-have in a team; it is a must-have. By showing kindness – learning about family, hobbies, interests, likes and dislikes – we understand each other as individuals and find commonalities. Those commonalities allow us to see one another as the caring people we are and open the door for us to trust each other more confidently and work together more productively. 

Kindness can look different for each individual. When I look around, I feel kindness shown to me in dozens of ways. Just in the last few weeks, here is how I felt kindness - Jody Patrick’s Wednesday/Friday email, being copied on an email about great news from Ryan Holland, valentines from Janis Wolens and Ric Hunter, a reminder to do something I knew I would forget from Beth Varcho, kid-about-to-go-to-college-advice from Stephanie Orr, knowing Rob Griffiths and Rich Nagle always find the right meme for the occasion, a message from Carie Moran about a sale of Nancy Drew books, Hillary Lorton co-writing this article with me, and dozens more. Each of these small things made me feel gratitude for their kindness. No matter how you are comfortable showing kindness, know that others appreciate it. 

In addition to our individual acts of kindness, we have many ongoing activities within OTDI designed to help foster compassion and generate those connections that lead to deeper trust and more productive work. The new hybrid-remote work landscape has presented unique challenges in building meaningful connections with our colleagues. Gone are the days of casual conversation in the breakroom or random drop-ins to a coworker’s office to say “hello.” With digital collaboration platforms like Microsoft Teams and Zoom, team bonding has found a new home. 

Digital platforms have allowed OTDI staff to connect and share kindness in new and exciting ways. Our IT Community Microsoft Team is a great place to find need-to-know information, as well as fun and engaging content. The Kudos channel gives staff the opportunity to shower their peers with praise and gratitude for going above and beyond in the workplace. Speaking from personal experience, when I receive praise in the Kudos channel, it makes me feel like an integral part of the OTDI team. Head to the Watercooler channel to respond to get-to-know-you prompts or start a new conversation. Connect with peers about shared interests or learn something new! 

Affinity Groups are another great way to connect with like-minded individuals. OTDI has a myriad of affinity groups that meet regularly to support diverse communities and share ideas to better our organization and increase the sense of belonging. Group themes include LGBTQI+, Women in STEM, Parent Connect, African American, Asian American Pacific Islander, Disability and Chronic Illness, and Neurodiversity. Staff can join an established group or be a part of a new group that supports their identity. 

With an organization of over 550 staff (and growing), it can be easy to feel disconnected from other teams in OTDI. All-Team Meetings are a great place to learn about the incredible work happening across our organization and to engage with staff from different teams. During each meeting, we love to see the chat feature light up with positive affirmations and encouragement. A simple, “way to go” or “thank you for sharing,” goes a long way in creating a culture of belonging.

We hope that you believe, like us, that kindness isn’t just the icing on top. It is central to our productivity and success as a team. There are many ways to show kindness daily – big and small, formal and informal. Let’s make sure kindness is a part of OTDI 365 days of the year.