If the culture at the American Society of Clinical Oncology were to be given a meme catchphrase, it would likely be “They understood the assignment.” Started by the TikTok crowd, the phrase generally conveys the idea of going above and beyond expectations.
“We really strive to create what we hope is an exceptional place to work,” said Paula B. King, SHRM-SCP, chief human resources officer and vice president at ASCO. “We call our way of working ‘ASCO works.’ It has some tenets to it: It’s about how we interact with our colleagues, our members, our donors, our stakeholders. We make an effort to be cohesive, intentional, inclusive, action-oriented, empowered, trustworthy, and accountable for everything that we do.”
Those core values come together in an approach to association management that prioritizes autonomy, flexibility, and feedback, with the goal of helping staff do their best work for the ASCO community.
Even before the pandemic, ASCO staff could work wherever they needed—including at home—to get work done. When COVID-19 hit, the organization had the tools in place to support fully remote work and help staff transition to it with ease, King said.
“Our technology was in place to help us achieve that balance. Our employees already knew how to connect from home and were able to do so well ahead of the pandemic,” she said.
Unlike many other organizations, ASCO has not required employees to return to the office as the pandemic eased. The office is open, but whether an employee comes in depends on the kind of work they need to do.
“We all understand our way of working,” King said. “What’s important is how we are providing support to our customers, which are our members, our donors, our stakeholders. We leave it to our managers or supervisors, our employees, to handle their work in the best way that meets our members’ needs.”