This piece was written by Elisha Hodgson, who has been working as a Community Support associate at Kiva for over a year now in our Portland offices. Doing double-duty, he also serves at Portland's office vibe manager.
So, what’s it like working on the Community Support and Engagement (CS) team at Kiva?
On the surface, the experience of responding to inquiries all day seems to be a bit straight-forward. Open a case, read a question or problem, and find the most appropriate answer or solution to it. Easy, right?
Well, the job wouldn’t be so difficult if our community of Kiva lenders were solely self-interested, passive and transactional by nature. Fortunately (oh so fortunately), our lending community is comprised of people who are others-focused; folks who are constantly in search of a better way forward. Most of our lenders have traversed the heavily involved path of searching for borrowers and investing their money, because they believe that generosity can lead to the redemption of this broken world.
With this in mind, I understand the same depth of compassion is also required of me. Not just sometimes, but in every email or voicemail I respond to. This empathetic approach has transformed me, and other members of the CS team, into a pulse that indicates the condition of our lending community.
When lenders question or feel hurt by a decision made by Kiva, we seek out the reason behind that decision. Always returning to offer insight and share in that hurt alongside them. When they write to us overjoyed by recent triumphs, we celebrate those victories wholeheartedly as well.
I know what you’re thinking. How can we feel so deeply, and respond sincerely all day, without burning out?
Well, it always requires truth and transparency, but sometimes, all it takes is a good ol’ stand up.
The CS team works continuously to learn every question and answer about Kiva, while simultaneously unlearning the answers that have changed.
Confused by that? Me too.
To keep track of all these changes, we have a daily, 15-30 minute stand-up call. This call allows us to inform one another of marketing promotions, website bugs and updates from other teams (among other things), all of which will nuance how we respond to inquiries that day. It’s also important for us to identify the specific feedback to track, which informs other teams about how their work is impacting the greater Kiva community.
Of course, these stand-ups also serve the purpose of building comradery on CS. We believe that trust and togetherness are essential ingredients to weathering CS storms, and our leadership has been very intentional in ensuring these values remain a point of emphasis.
Working on Kiva’s Community Support and Engagement team has meant the world to me. I’m constantly wrestling with the tension of feeling competently helpful and being humbled by questions I don’t know answers to. That tension demands a great deal of patience and grace, both of which flow abundantly between members of our team.
To say I enjoy the work I do, and the people I work with, would be an egregious understatement. Each day I come to the office, I can feel the energy of common purpose filling fellow Kivans, our lending community and borrowers around the world. This helps me remember we are connected by our striving to bring innovation, healing and renewal to every corner of the earth, and I know that the work is good. The ebb and flow of emotion is merely a brushstroke on the canvas of shared vision that propels us toward a better future, and I know that this is where I want to be.