Artisan Blog

How to Create a Strong Workplace Culture

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

company-culture

Although managing a team might come naturally to some, retaining a team is another story. Building employee retention in a creative environment is key to keeping a strong creative team together. Happy and engaged employees are motivated, productive and have a positive impact on company culture. Below are some best practices to foster a good workplace culture for creatives:

Cultivate shared values and a strong mission. Hire and work with people who demonstrate your shared company values. Doing so helps support your company culture and gives employees a stronger sense of investment in their jobs. This is especially true for the millennial workforce, who want to know their work makes a difference. Have a purpose that’s bigger than the company, and be mindful of seeking to do good when you can.

Allow for employee empowerment. Micromanaging doesn’t help solve problems. Give your team the autonomy to resolve issues and express themselves. Consider an open-door policy so everyone’s ideas feel respected, and each team member can impact the company in a positive way. Besides, you never know when the next big idea could come to someone!

Give -- and ask -- for feedback. Yearly reviews are fine, but weekly, monthly, or quarterly check-ins can help prevent your creative team from feeling disconnected. A regular check-in can help smooth over any miscommunication, improve workflow procedures and create overall engagement. In addition to giving feedback, ask for some of your own. It’s a commitment to honesty and transparency that’ll open up communication between you and your team.

Engage with each other. If you’re quickly growing or offer the opportunity to work remotely, it’s essential that your team interact via Skype, GChat, Slack, or some other form of daily or weekly communication. Not only does this strengthen connections, it also helps everyone contribute to the overall mission. Team collaboration and engagement is key to creating a positive, open work environment.

Embrace your team’s passions. Encourage team-building opportunities. For instance, have an “art sale” for your graphic designers and let them share their work with the rest of the company, or start committees that bolster community and show off skills, like a baking club, community service opportunities, employee-led fitness classes, or a meditation group.

Celebrate successes. If your team wins, celebrate! Everyone wants to feel a sense of accomplishment when they achieve goals. Recognition, and an opportunity to celebrate a colleague is key to building a strong team.

Perks are great, but there is more to creating a happy work environment. Listen to your team, nurture their passions, and support the company culture to keep creatives on board for years to come!

Looking for great creative talent? Talk to us and we can help!


Are Cover Letters Necessary?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

cover-letter-needed

If a job listing asks for a cover letter, you might wonder why is a hiring manager asking for it? Will anyone actually reading these?

Yes. Yes, they are. And they’re reading them for several good reasons.

First off, every part of an application needs to be as strong as possible. If your resume is a little weaker than you’d like (maybe you’re applying for a more senior role or a job within a different industry than you’ve experienced), a cover letter could provide additional information to a hiring manager about your capabilities.

Secondly, if a job listing requires a cover letter, it’s one way to see whether a candidate follows directions and reads the entire listing. Companies want to hire thoughtful individuals -- no matter your talent or experience, not following the simplest directions signals that you don’t really care.

If it’s between you and several other candidates, a great cover letter can make you stand out from other qualified candidates. Plus, a well-crafted cover letter shows off your writing skills. Even if your job doesn’t require writing, effective communication is a cornerstone for any position, creative or otherwise. Moreover, a cover letter allows you to demonstrate that you’ve done your research on this company or job, and can articulate why you are the best candidate.

What information should be included in your cover letter? Make sure it is not boilerplate. A generic cover letter will look like just that -- standard. You want to stand out, so share details about why you feel you’re a good fit for the job. If you’re looking at a graphic design job at a fashion company, explain how you started taking sewing lessons or how you follow trends closely.

Highlight successes at previous jobs. If you were responsible for driving traffic to a new website, your resume can only convey so much of that information. However, a cover letter offers you the opportunity to discuss your achievements in more detail (for example, you increased web traffic by 36 percent in a 9-month period).

Finally, a cover letter is a great way to show off your personality. Your writing style and what you choose to include helps paint a picture beyond your resume and portfolio. How are you a leader? What story can you tell? What makes you a great cultural fit for this environment?

In short, your cover letter is your calling card and can demonstrate additional information not readily available on your resume.

Looking for a job? Artisan always has open job listings for creatives!


10 Tips for Active Listening

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Between texting, phone calls, emails, tweets, LinkedIn posts, Slack messages, Pinterest boards, Gchat, and so on, communicating with each other is at an all-time high. However, communication requires really, truly listening -- and active listening is a skill that tends to get lost in the sea of technology noise.

The good news is that anyone can improve their active listening skills. By doing so, everyone can build better relationships, resolve conflicts and understand issues, whether in the workplace or elsewhere. In short, becoming a great active listener can yield amazing benefits for your career and relationships.

The most important thing to remember is to try and NOT problem solve on the fly. Try and quiet your problem solving mind. When you are thinking ahead to the answers, or what to say next, you are no longer truly listening!

Read on for 10 tips to help you develop and hone active listening skills:

1. Maintain eye contact. Don't be distracted by the ping noise of your phone, or scan the room to see what else is happening. Give them the courtesy of your full attention. Better yet, put your on airplane mode when in conversation with someone in front of you.

2. Relax. On the other hand, paying attention to someone simply means that: pay attention. It doesn't mean you need to maintain a serious or fixed stare. Carry on as normal, nod, but remain attentive by being present.

3. Be empathetic. The soul of active listening is empathy. If the person you're listening to is sad, happy, fearful, or angry in your conversation, put yourself in their shoes. Pay attention to power words and repetitions such as, "I was really, really upset" or, "I was ecstatic to get my promotion".

4. Look for nonverbal cues. Their cadence, tone of voice and body language can offer a lot of information. Look for small signs of nervousness, enthusiasm, or anxiety for example in their mannerism, gestures, and posture to help determine how they really feel.

5. Create a mental image. If you're having trouble following along or paying attention, paint a visual image in your head to help stay focused.

6. Avoid interrupting. Sometimes, it seems like a good idea to finish someone else's sentences, especially if you think you know what's coming. Yet this can derail their train of thought or come off as impatient. Moreover, interrupting can also come off as aggressive or competitive, as though you're trying to "win" the conversation. Slow down to their speed so you can listen attentively.

7. Stay in the moment. It might seem like a good idea to jump ahead mentally and plan what to say next. However, doing so means you're not actively listening and only  listening only to part of it, while devoting mental energy to your next move. Rehearsing and listening at the same time doesn't work, so give your full attention to the other person.

8. Wait for pauses to ask questions. If you don't understand something, ask for an explanation, but, wait until there's a pause. Additionally, if your question takes the conversation off-topic, gently help steer it back on the right track.

9. Offer feedback. "Congratulations!" "What an awful ordeal!" "You must be excited!" show that you understand their feelings. You can also just nod along and show your understanding with facial expressions that match their emotion, like a smile or a frown.

10. Don't judge. Even if you feel like something they said was alarming or should be pointed out, resist the urge. Likewise, don’t jump to conclusions. A story with a rocky start may indeed have a happy ending!


Resignation Best Practices

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

A few times in one’s career, it may be necessary to write a resignation letter. Yet the resignation process can be intimidating, or even disheartening. How do you tell your employer goodbye and stay on good terms, especially if you’ve worked for them for a long time?

1. First off, figure out why you want to leave before you officially resign. No matter if it’s the salary, the commute, the team you work with, your manager, your responsibilities, a lack of creative challenge, or the desire to strike out on your own as a freelancer or entrepreneur, you sought after a new position for a reason. Be clear with yourself --it's not always about a salary! Know what's important before accepting any offer, as you might realize that your current position is still better than a new job for the interim.

2. Schedule a time to speak with your manager. Set up a resignation meeting with your current employer. Present your resignation letter which states your last date and reason for leaving. Wish your manager and the company continued success in the future.

3. Plan your exit strategy. Prepare your exit strategy before meeting with your manager. Create a plan for all the items you are currently handling. Provide a list of all assets, passwords, and works in progress. Have a succession plan -- your exit can provide a great step up for someone else on your team. Reassure your manager that while you will no longer be employed, you want to begin the hand over process as soon as possible. Offer your cooperation on training or documentation for ongoing projects or projected plans. Once you know what needs to be done before you leave, continue working as normal. Although you might feel “senioritis” at your job, don’t change your work ethic!

4. A word on reactions... While many employers will act respectfully upon hearing a resignation, some may not. However they react, you should remain calm and professional. By being prepared for your exit, you can help alleviate some of the stress your manager may be feeling.

5. Don’t accept a counteroffer. If the reasons you stated in point #1 are valid, then accepting a counteroffer doesn’t make sense. Not only does your employer know you’ve been looking to make a move from your current position, but they may think you only wanted more money. And if there are other things you’re unhappy about in your position, like the team or the responsibility, those won’t change even if your salary is higher. Your decision should be final, so don’t leave them room to talk you out of it!

Before deciding to make a move, be certain of your own motivation and opportunities for growth. Once you are certain, it will become easier to plan for your resignation professionally.



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