Artisan Blog

Tips for Developing Your Design Portfolio

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we've a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 425th issue of our weekly a.blog.

When seeking to fill a creative role, hiring managers often request a portfolio that shows the body of work a designer has successfully compiled over the years. However, if you are beginning your creative career or looking to break into a new vertical within creative, you may have to think of news ways to add relevant samples to your portfolio.

It may seem like a Catch-22: the only way to gain experience is to already have it.

Here are several options to develop your design portfolio further, gain more experience or try a new vertical:

Ask Friends & Family

Look within your network. Ask your friends and family for referrals to other small businesses and colleagues. Who do they know who can benefit from your creative expertise and may not have the resources to go to a design firm or agency?

Explore Personal Projects

Have you ever wanted to re-brand a favorite product? Have you ever said, I would love to work for that brand? How would you tackle an assignment if you were to land a project with a favorite company? Here’s your opportunity to take creative license and give your favorite brand a new look! (Note: Make sure you are clear in your portfolio that this was a personal project or add a special section for exploratory work to your portfolio.) 

Consider Non-Profit work

Accepting pro bono work for a non-profit or for a cause you are passionate about is a good way to build experience in a new vertical. Many nonprofits and community organizations need the skills and savvy of creative professionals to get their message out, although they may not have the budget to do so. This creates ample opportunities to take on exciting and challenging projects that look great on your resume, in your portfolio and give you an opportunity to strengthen your community.

This also enables you to try out different ideas, discover what type of work you enjoy, and hone your unique voice and vision. Because of the unique marketing challenges they face, nonprofit organizations provide creative professionals the opportunity to develop some truly remarkable and memorable projects.

As a creative professional, you have the power to change the way people think. If you want to harness that power for good, pro bono work for a non-profit may give you the opportunity to do just that.

As a job seeker, you have heard many times about the importance of a personal brand or a meaningful story that ties together your work. By taking on pro bono or passion project opportunities, you can explore the issues that matter to you.

How to Get Started

Opportunities for pro bono creative work are everywhere, look around and ask. Contact organizations you admire and, if they are receptive, pitch your ideas to them directly. Or, you can go through the Taproot Foundation, which helps creatives and nonprofits find each other. (It's like Artisan Creative, for the nonprofit world.)

And, of course, we are here to help you define your goals, build your skills, gain clarity on your mission, and seek out all sorts of professional opportunities. Contact us today to learn more.

 

Remote Work Best Practices

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we've a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 424th issue of our weekly a.blog.

 

More and more employers, employees, and freelancers are thinking outside the cube.

According to a recent Gallup survey covered in The New York Times, as many as 43% of employed Americans spend at least some of their professional time working at home or off-site, representing a four-point increase from 2012 and indicating a growing trend toward remote work.

This trend may seem liberating, however, with freedom comes responsibility. Remote work pumps different muscles of accountability and discipline.

If you're new to remote work or plan to work remotely in the future, these best practices can help maintain or improve your productivity.

1. Get to know the team

When starting a new remote freelance assignment or a new full time remote job, you'll want to learn everything you can about the company, its team, and its culture. 

Since you will not be seeing everyone in person on a daily basis, it may take longer to get to know the team or manage issues as they arise. Miscommunication may affect your work and your relationships if you aren’t familiar and intuitive enough to mitigate them. 

However, if you understand the people you work with and share their values and mission, you will have an easier time hashing out difficulties through email or video meetings.  

2. Keep the Paths of Communication Open

When you are communicating as a remote worker, err on the side of generosity.

If you can, schedule regular check-ins to discuss how things are going and address any potential issues before they turn into active problems. It's key to be open, honest, and thorough in all your communications.  Setting up virtual zoom meetings or participating in your company's slack channels can be a good way to stay connected.

Since most of your communication will be digital, take care to avoid digital miscommunication. Learn to convey your professional diligence and interpersonal skills through digital channels, and respond to any questions or concerns as quickly and thoughtfully as you can.

3. Find the Right Environment

For some people, working from home is a dream come true. They roll out of bed, start the coffee maker, and "commute" to their desks, twenty seconds away.

Others may work better in "third places" that are neither homes nor offices. These workers may find their ideal environments in coworking spaces or coffee shops. It is no coincidence that, as remote work has increased, new spaces and industries have appeared to accommodate those who still need to separate their work from the rest of their lives.

Wherever you decide to work, make sure the atmosphere is ideal for your productivity. If you are energized by the bustling ambiance, try working from a coffee shop. If you need quiet and isolation, find a peaceful place to work and set boundaries to protect it.

This requires some trial and error, so before you commit to full-time remote work, understand your own patterns, preferences, and boundaries. Any assignment is easier when you’re tackling it within your designated sweet spot.

4. Know Thyself

The right external environment is as essential as the right mindset. The relative freedom of remote work can empower you to play to your strengths.

The new world of work provides more freedom than ever before. Making the most of it requires wisdom, experimentation, and sensitivity to your own body and mind.

That's where Artisan Creative can help. We work with a wide variety of talent with different styles and work preferences. We can help you play to your strengths and uncover opportunities where your skills and efforts will be the most appreciated. Contact us today to learn more.

The Art of Marketing Your Skills

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 422nd issue of our weekly a.blog.


Our work landscape is changing rapidly and we have to be prepared to change with it. Whether you're looking for new freelance opportunities or a full-time job, it’s important to think like an entrepreneur.

Even if you've never thought of yourself as an entrepreneur, one who often has to be the top salesperson, the marketing expert, as well as the billing and collections agent, you can create more opportunities and open yourself up for greater success if you think of yourself as an entrepreneurial brand. That means it’s your responsibility to market yourself and flex your creative muscles in new ways to bring fresh clarity to your priorities, values, and goals.

As you become more comfortable with marketing yourself, here are some core principles to keep in mind drawn from the work of respected marketing authorities and tested in the crucible of international business.

Own Your Own Niche

Being the first one in your category is the first law of Al Reis and Jack Trout’s 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing.

Inventing your own category gives tremendous advantage and allows you to make the rules that your competition must follow. If you can't be the first in a broad category, claim a subcategory, and be the best to market in your own distinct niche.

For example, your focus may be web design. Although you may not be the first web designer in your city, you may still have an opportunity to focus on a specific clientele base or have an expertise in a vertical. To build your reputation in a specific niche, attend industry and networking events, study hard, learn a lot and become a subject matter expert.

Think Like a Storyteller

Even if you're not trained as a storyteller or fiction writer, you've probably loved enough films, novels, and anecdotes to intuitively appreciate the power of a good yarn.

When you describe your career trajectory, victories won, and challenges overcome, try thinking in terms of the "mono-myth" of "The Hero's Journey." Fiction writers, filmmakers, and marketers have used this structure to guide them down many different paths.

Share your story, your inspiration, your process—tell the story of why you stand out in your field and how you differentiate.

Start looking for the "Hero's Journey" structure, and you'll see it everywhere. It has shaped careers, lives, and civilizations. How can you harness the power of story telling to tell your own tale?

Be Candid

A candid approach highlights your sincerity and shows you have nothing to hide. A sense of humor or a quirky personality will resonate better with potential clients and employers with a similar sensibility. If you are clear as to who your target audience is, then it’s easier to be yourself.

Some brands have had tremendous success by poking fun at their own shortcomings. Avis struggled for years to overtake Hertz, to no avail. Finally, it increased its profile and drew a lot of new customers when it embraced the slogan, "We're #2, so we try harder."

Be your best self, and be proud of it. This gives you the freedom to be comfortable and honest.

Continue Learning

When defining your unique combination of skills, keep one eye on how relevant you expect them to be in five years. In the digital world, bubbles form and burst often. Job titles may change, so build continuously on your core competencies and adapt.

Continued education is key in many industries and the creative and marketing industry is no different. Be sure to continue your learning and sharpen the tools of your trade.  Sites such as Lynda.com or General Assembly are great resources.

Continuously iterate on your own marketing message. Use methodologies such as A/B testing to refine your ideas, build on what others respond do, and discard what isn’t working.

Represent Yourself

As you blend your range of skills and experience into a coherent, memorable storyline, make sure the story reflects who you really are. Heed the advice of marketing guru Seth Godin, to "under promise and over deliver."

If you make promises you can't keep, you will find yourself in positions you aren't qualified for, or assignments you aren’t excited about.

A well-branded portfolio will continue to support your story and be a representation of your skills. The story of your creative thinking, along with a display of your most current work, your involvement in a project, and your collaboration with other team members will speak volumes. If you are unable to create a website for yourself, there are wonderful options in the marketplace such as Dribbble or  Behance.

When using social media to market your skills, make sure it’s well branded with a cohesive message woven through all channels. Whether it’s LinkedIn or Instagram—create a unique branding voice that represents you.

Bring your own unique story to life and share it. If you need additional help marketing your skills contact Artisan Creative for representation. We work with hundreds of clients in different verticals who are looking to hire new talent. Your next assignment could be waiting!

 


Tips for Active Listening

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 419th issue of our weekly a.blog. 

 

MIA: When in conversation, do you listen, or do you just wait to talk?

VINCENT: I wait to talk. But I'm trying to listen.

 -Pulp Fiction, 1994  

Active listening requires that we set aside our own egos and imperatives as we listen to another person speak,  in order to be fully engaged with what that person is communicating, both verbally and nonverbally.

When done in good faith, active listening gives rise to an atmosphere of cooperation and mutual respect. At work, it can help mitigate conflicts and facilitate better teamwork and higher morale.

When listening actively, use these five principles until they become second nature. Don’t worry too much about whether or not you’re doing it correctly. Simply open yourself up to the conversation before you.

1. Notice body language and sub-communication

Communication is about much more than what is said out loud.

In order to really listen, you must get beyond the stated facts and pick up on the tone and emotions behind them. The same speech can have two entirely different meanings depending on whether it is delivered with self-assurance, with a knowing smirk, or with lots of filler words ("like," "um"), crossed arms, and erratic eye contact.

To actively listen, stay open, withhold judgment, and take in the sum of the spoken and unspoken communication.

2. Repeat, rephrase and ask questions

Before you respond, make sure you understand what has been said.

You can do this by repeating the speaker's key points, and restating them in your own words. This will give the person an opportunity to clarify or add more information. This way, before you respond, you can be fairly sure you fully comprehend the other person's point.

Before you offer a rebuttal, ask thoughtful, open-ended questions to clear up any lingering misconceptions. This can open a productive conversation and lead into fruitful areas of discussion neither one of you anticipated.

3. If you get lost, start over

Have you ever been having a conversation and suddenly realized the other person had been talking for a long time and you stopped paying attention some time ago? It's okay to admit it.

Just be honest. Say, "I think I lost you back there somewhere. I was with you up to a point. Would you mind clarifying this one area?" Make sure you are getting all the information you need to hear and understand the speaker in context.

If you are indeed listening in good faith, pay attention to what is being said, keep up with the content as it’s shared, and quiet your own inner voice.

4. Don't rehearse or think ahead - stay in the moment

When you're ready to listen, take a deep breath, and take a moment to let go of your own thoughts, opinions, ideas and perspective. Be fully present with the other person's experience. Perceive their feelings and get to know the human behind the voice.

If you begin formulating a response while you are pretending to listen, you are bound to miss important subtext and implications. You risk sounding dismissive or defensive. People can tell when you aren't listening. Don't interrupt. Wait your turn. Listen to others the way you would have them listen to you.

5. Care

The best way to connect, listen and learn is via genuine curiosity about other people's experiences and to have empathy.

Empathy is a learned skill that requires constant honing. Practice active listening, and you may find that other people's experiences resonate with you far more than you ever expected. You may discover a spirit of cooperation within yourself that you may have been too nervous, defensive, or distracted to appreciate before. 

At Artisan Creative, active listening is the key to creating trusted relationships with our talent and clients.


Tax Time Checklist for Freelancers

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 418th issue of our weekly a.blog.

 

According to 2016 statistics, freelancers make up 35% of the American workforce, contributing around $1 trillion to the economy. If you belong to this freelancer economy, you freelance because you want to, not for a lack of other options. This doesn’t mean you can’t use a little help with your taxes.

If you have not started working on your 2016 taxes, or you are running behind, now is the best time to get started. Check off these steps and you’ll be squared up with Uncle Sam in no time.

Determine what kind of return you need to file. Are you a freelance business as an LLC, or are you an independent contractor? Or did you work as a W2 with staffing agencies like Artisan Creative? Make sure you find the correct forms to file based on your business, as well as corresponding state and local forms.

Know the tax rules that apply to freelancers. First of all, and somewhat confusingly, you need to pay both income tax and self-employment tax. If you are new to freelancing, you may be surprised to find that you are essentially taxed twice, once as yourself, and once as a 1099 contractor. However, half of your self-employment tax is deductible as a business expense. If you haven’t set aside enough money to cover the cost of your taxes, start saving immediately so you can pay off at least some of your bill.

If you made more than $600 from any client, make sure you get a 1099. If you earn $600 or more from any one client, you need to report that income on your tax return. You should receive a 1099-MISC Form from each client by February 2. If not received, you may contact them and request one.

Research tax breaks. The IRS offers a substantial number of tax breaks which give freelancers a wonderful chance to get some additional deductions they’ve spent on their business. Deductions change from year to year, so research your deductible expenses. For example, if you work from home, you can deduct the cost of your internet bill, as it’s used to generate income. The IRS and Lifehacker have good information to review.

Organize receipts and expenses. To help maximize tax deductions and keep the IRS happy, it’s best to stay organized and keep updated records of receipts, expenses, and payments. Have all these things stored and easily accessible to reduce the stress of filing. For instance, if you’re creating a digital archive, Shoeboxed is a great app for storing, processing, and organizing pictures of receipts on your phone.

Stay on schedule. Do not wait until the week before April 15 to file your taxes - if you haven’t filed as a freelancer before, you may not expect it to be so intense! Use calendars - from Google to iCal there are plenty of choose from. Set aside enough time to complete a set of tasks, such as determining deductions or adding up your total income or expenses from 2016. Filing taxes is never exactly fun, but it’s less stressful if you’re prepared.

If you need more time, you can apply for an extension of time to file using Form 4868

Get help from a seasoned tax professional. Since tax deductions change so often, it may be best to hire a CPA to help so you can take advantage and save money. NerdWallet is an excellent educational blog to help you make smarter financial decisions and can tell you which tax breaks you’re qualified for.

Set yourself up for next year’s success. After you’ve filed, be sure to rest, hydrate, and celebrate capping off a year of hard work and accomplishment. If you find that this year’s filing has been stressful, be better prepared for next year! You may want to create a separate bank account for your business and pay any business expenses such as insurance and tech maintenance through that account. Then use your organization system to keep track of receipts, as well as how much you think you’ll need to set aside to pay next year’s taxes.

If you’re struggling with the stress of running your own shop, other members of your local freelance community may be able to help, or at least commiserate. You can find professional guidance and peer support through freelancer meetups in your area, or by talking to a representative at Artisan Creative. If you work for yourself, don’t do it alone!


4 Steps to a Successful Networking Event

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

 

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 417th issue of our weekly a.blog.

 

To make the most of a networking event, it’s important to remember one simple rule: enjoy yourself. This means keeping your mind and your options open, as you’ll only hold yourself back if you stick too rigidly to a rehearsed script.

If you’ve ever struggled with networking events and you now want to get more out of them, keep these four items in mind before, during, and after the event.

Have a Clear Objective

Everyone is attending a networking event for the same reason; they’re looking to gain something. People are there to make a connection, have a conversation about what they do, maybe share an elevator pitch, and meet someone new they have something in common with

When talking, keep in mind that quality over quantity is always the best solution at networking events. You don’t need to talk to everyone in the room. Go to the event with a goal in mind. Maybe you want to leave with 5 business cards or give out 10 of your own? It can be something as simple as holding conversations with 3 different people. Whatever your goal is, work towards it. If you are tied into a conversation and you’re missing out on your goal of networking with others, politely excuse yourself and ask to continue the conversation on a follow-up call.

Have a Good Stock Opener

Approaching someone at a networking event and asking “How are you?” is a frequent conversation starter which can also be a conversation killer. If like most of us, you often respond with “Yes, I’m great. How are you?” the conversation won’t really lead anywhere. However, what if you were to ask “How was your week?” instead?Open-ended questions lead to better conversations.You find out more information about them and what they do, plus it gives you an opportunity to ask more questions.

Be Polite and Confident

Walk around the room with your head held high and if anyone makes eye contact, be sure to acknowledge them with a smile or a hello. If people are in circles and already engaged in conversation, don’t push your way in. If you can enter a conversation without having to ask anyone to move, join them, listen and simply ask a question to the person speaking about their thoughts on the topic. It shows you have an interest in what they have to say and helps to keep the conversation flowing. If you are interested in a conversation topic asking permission to join the group can be a viable solution. “This sounds like an amazing topic, may I join you?” can be a good introduction into the group.

Have a Process for Following Up

If you have managed to put all of that together and meet some people, here are our tips for making those ten-minute conversations spent at a networking event, the beginning of a possible working relationship:

  • Use your database. Whether you collected paper business cards or QR codes in your smartphone, add that information to your contacts and don’t forget to note where and when you met and a word or two about what you discussed.
  • Follow-up. Put each person you met into a category for a particular level of future contact. Do they need a simple “It was nice to meet you at…” or do they warrant an invitation for coffee or a request for an informational interview?
  • Follow through. Did you offer someone assistance? Get in touch with them first thing the next business day so they know you were serious. And then follow through. It's very easy to let offers like this fall through the cracks, those are missed opportunities.
  • Send Linkedin invitations. Invite your new contacts to connect with you on social media. Be sure to personalize invitations and remind them where you met and what you talked about.

At Artisan Creative, we help professionals get the most out of their careers, which includes building a robust network. Check out our resources page or follow us on social media for updates on groups and networking events in the area. 

 

Adult Learning Styles

Friday, March 17, 2017

 

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 416th issue of our weekly a.blog.

 

Whether you are training new hires or making a presentation to a large group, it’s important to communicate your ideas properly.

Adults have different ways of learning and information may not necessarily resonate with everyone in the same way. Presenting the material in different styles can transform frustration into an epiphany for some members in your audience.

Some people form vivid visual memories and learn best through pictures. Others love jokes and metaphors, while some learn best through reading or listening to an oral presentation. Some may have trouble sitting still for hours and may learn better by doing group activities.

Most of us learn best through a combination of pictures, sounds, and feelings, that compliment our dominant learning style. This idea is crystallized in an educational theory called “VAK,” for “visual, auditory, kinesthetic.”

If you facilitate training, onboarding sessions or make frequent presentations consider experimenting with visual, auditory, and kinesthetic modalities and notice how participants respond.

Auditory Learners

Auditory learners learn best through language; when something makes sense to them, they may say, “I hear that!". If your training materials are text-heavy, encourage participants to take turns reading the material aloud. Use the Socratic method - ask questions and let the group paraphrase the core ideas in their own words. Invite compelling guest speakers to share their stories and teach in different verbal styles. E-learning materials can include audio books or podcasts that can be consumed on the go. Use repetition or clever wordplay to help the material “click.”

Skilled copywriters are well positioned to help you speak your audience’s language and get them talking.

Kinesthetic Learners

This type of learner likes to move around, do things, and take a “hands-on” approach to learning. Reading a book or watching a video may become a challenge if they can’t get involved and connect to the ideas being presented. Kinesthetic learners will retain more information if they take notes by hand, work with three-dimensional models, or interact with others in the group. To engage kinesthetic learners, let them change seats, or stand as needed for part of the presentation or provide frequent breaks for snacks and fresh air.

The right experience designer or instructional designer can help design modules to create more interaction.

Visual Learners

Visual learners love stylish presentations, slideshows, videos, flowcharts, and infographics. To engage them, use color, diagrams, photographs, and information architecture to break up heavy text. They have keen aesthetic sensibilities and see the symbolism in imagery that others may overlook. When explaining themselves to others, they may say, “look here,” or “let me draw you a picture.”

To engage visual learners, work with the best designers and presentation specialists you can find.

 

If you’re ready to experiment with different learning modalities, reach out to Artisan Creative. We work with creative professionals with experience in a range of media who can make your project shine and appeal to a variety of audiences.



​5 Secret Techniques of Great Interviewers

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 414th issue of our weekly a.blog.

As an HR professional, you have an array of responsibilities from vetting prospective hires to determining their qualifications and how they will contribute to company culture. At the same time, you are a front-line representative for your company, and must ensure that candidates also get the right first impression.

Here are a few techniques from the fields of sales, psychology, entertainment, and beyond that can help you conduct an unforgettable interview and get a candidate’s job experience started on the strongest possible footing.

Pace and Lead

Psychologists, salespeople, negotiators, and hypnotists build rapport through "mirroring' or mimicking another person’s tone and body language. This invites the candidate's trust. It may also spark some empathy on your part as you relate to that person's experience.

After rapport is established, you can shift your own gestures and speech to move the conversation in a productive direction. If the candidate is nervous, you can invite them to relax and loosen up. If the interview is too rigid and formal, you can inject some light humor or make things more conversational.

Know your Purpose

A good job interview is about more than hearing a prospect recite their resume and go over a list of mundane tasks. You must determine if this person's skills,  personality, values and worldview are compatible with the role you need to fill.

Before the interview, connect with the department’s hiring managers to understand the day-to-day duties of the job, and the purpose these duties serve to the organization, and fits within the team structure. Know the long-term goals that must be hit and what a successful first year would look like. Picture the ideal candidate performing this role to the best of their abilities.

Before you start interviewing prospects, clear up any confusion about what the job really entails with supervisors and stakeholders in your company. Think far beyond the job description.

Pause

“Active listening” means focusing your attention on the candidate when they are speaking and paying attention to the nuances and subtext of what they are saying. Be careful not to rush the process. Feel free to linger or elaborate on any intriguing points or rich topics that arise.

A good way to do this is to take a deliberate pause. A pause adds emphasis to an important point and gives you and the candidate time to interpret what is being said.

When the candidate finishes a thought, wait a few beats before you move on to the next question. This takes some practice, and you'll find that people often give the most revealing insights into themselves when they have finished canned responses by giving them a few more seconds of space to fill.

Find the Why

Business writer Simon Sinek devised "The Golden Circle," an immensely popular and powerful model for determining values. According to Sinek, every individual, group, and business has three layers. The outer layer, the “What,” contains our day-to-day tasks, what we actually do. One layer deeper, we find the "How," our attitudes, practices, and culture. The innermost layer, closest to our hearts, is the "Why." This is where we discover our deepest passions that motivate us.

Avoid getting too caught up in the number of years the candidate worked for a previous employer or the bullet points on their resume. Go deeper. Find core principles, values, and ideas that have stayed consistent throughout their career. If your candidate's "Why" is compatible with your company's "Why," you may have found a much better match than you would if you went by experience and references alone.

Go Off Script

When a waiter drops a tray full of dishes on the floor of a comedy club, a good comedian takes a beat and gets back into his act. A great comedian, however, reacts to the situation, riffs about it with the audience, and comes up with a new joke that's perfect for this particular time and place.

As an art form, conversation is less like rehearsed acting than it is like improvised comedy. It is crucial to "read the room" and adapt to any surprises that may come up.

Every candidate is different, so every interview should be different. Know your facts and the information you want to share. More importantly, be human. Take some notes beforehand, and be willing to throw them out if the conversation goes in an interesting direction that you didn't anticipate.

If you need help hiring and interviewing, contact us to learn more. Have the a.team help build your dream team.

Avoiding Digital Miscommunication

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 413th issue of our weekly a.blog.

 

Do you get confused reading certain emails because you can’t decipher the writer’s tone? Have you ever been surprised at how different a person can sound depending on whether they’re using the phone or speaking face to face? Have members of your team asked you to clarify a memo or email when you thought you were 100% clear?

Well, you could be caught in that trap of digital miscommunication.

As we have embraced globalization, virtual offices, and meetings conducted via Zoom, or chatted using Slack, we have had to rapidly adapt to new forms of communication. “The medium is the message,” as futurist Marshall McLuhan wrote, and the nonverbal cues we use in person don’t always translate via this new medium.

Communicating clearly through any method is an essential requirement for any career advancement, your team’s success or developing interpersonal skills. It’s often a process of trial and error, and here are a few general rules that will help avoid costly misunderstandings.

Clear, concise communication is a strength and one that all job descriptions ask for. For some it comes naturally, for others the following tips can be beneficial:

Write like you talk

Avoid confusing jargon and ensure that your point gets across in the simplest possible manner.

For practice, read your emails aloud before you send them. As you get used to editing yourself, you will sharpen your thinking as well.

Keep it simple

If you write and speak clearly you will earn the respect of your colleagues by saving their patience and time.

If you’re a long-winded writer, run your text through Readability Score to make it more concise before you hit “send.”

Be present

As you keep your message simple and brief, make sure you don’t leave your colleagues guessing about essential information. Your colleagues and communications deserve your full attention. A simple mindfulness meditation practice can train you to focus on what’s in front of you right now and in turn tune out what’s not currently important.

Be Empathetic

The Harvard Business Review suggests professional empathy as a way to disarm potential misunderstandings. When you connect with another person, no matter what the medium, try to see things from that person’s perspective and interpret the world through a language that person uses and best understands.

This isn’t just for salespeople and therapists; active listening can help anyone establish more meaningful and effective connections and reduce team friction.

Ask Questions

If you are unclear, asking direct questions will get better results than making assumptions and pretending you know more than you do.

Asking the right questions gives you a chance to learn how other people communicate and think. As a result, your own communication will become much more effective when you understand how your colleagues approach their work.

Asking questions conveys curiosity and enthusiasm which indicates active participation in the world around you. When you think the conversation is almost over, asking one more question can yield a key insight.

Communicate Visually

Along with asking questions and adapting to your audience (or “reading the room,” as comedians call it), Supervisor Essentials suggests that you learn to communicate your ideas visually. Digital communication is growing increasingly visual, and there are many new tools that will enhance the experience for all, from infographics to animated gifs.

Studies suggest that 65% of us are visual learners. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a designer, you’ll be better equipped to get through to your visually inclined colleagues if you can master the basics of visual communication. It can also help you make those (at times) rather dull web conferences more useful and engaging.

At Artisan Creative, we help creative professionals connect with clients and opportunities, and we know that effective communication is the essence of a good connection. As you build your communication skills and become fluent in the language of business, we can provide resources for growth, put you in touch with industry leaders, and help you build a career you’ll love. Get in touch today to learn more.

End Time-Wasting Habits

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 411th issue of our weekly a.blog.

Procrastination is a choice. You may let yourself believe you're just sending a few more harmless texts, frittering away another hour by “taking a break” on Facebook, or putting off your goals for one more day. What you’re really doing is letting valuable time evaporate.

You’re smart and talented enough to use your time more effectively, and you have to first understand your habits in order to change them. Poor productivity isn't the fault of Mark Zuckerberg and his team of programmers. It's something you can change when you call it by its name. 

Here are five big categories that encompass our little time-wasting habits. When you see yourself falling into these traps, call yourself out. As you learn to correct counterproductive tendencies, you’ll be on your way to a better body of work, better career opportunities, and more self-confidence.

1. Analysis Paralysis

It's time to make a decision, yet you continue to wait until all the facts are in. You need more data, or more research, or one more class that will make you a master and hopefully eliminate any apprehension for good.

Analysis paralysis is the result of a fear of failure. We are trained to avoid embarrassment, and we'd rather postpone big risks that may not play out the way we want.

To get past this, accept that you will never be prepared for every possibility. You can learn a lot through trial and error, experiences that you can't glean through any amount of preliminary study. When it doubt, do something, see what happens, and be willing to embrace it fully.

2. Self-Sabotage

You put off a big assignment until the last second, forcing yourself to rush it and turn in mediocre work. You distract yourself, creating conditions where you know you will do less than your best. You give 70%, resenting every second of it.

There are false benefits to engaging in self-sabotage. When we know we're not giving it our all, it allows us to fail without damaging our egos. "I could have done a great job," we often say. "I just didn't have the time, or the energy, or the commitment."

To get around self-sabotage, try this exercise:

Visualize the consequences of neglecting your responsibilities. Maybe you will lose your job, lose the respect of colleagues, or miss out on future opportunities. Feel that pain and frustration as fully as you can.

Now turn that image black and white, and make it smaller until it disappears. Replace it with a new image, bursting with color, one that celebrates you successfully completing your work. With that image in mind, tackle your work wholeheartedly, take pride in your follow-through, and integrate new things you learn from the experience of getting the job done.

3. Micromanaging

As a manager, you are familiar with every process. You know how every part fits into the company's broader mission. You could do everyone's job better if you only did it yourself; you just don't have the time.

The best supervisors know how to free up a lot of time by delegating tasks to others and empower their teams. If you have trouble doing this, it may indicate a lack of trust.

Remind yourself that employees are there for a reason, and you trained them well. If you simply let go and let them do their jobs, you will have more time to handle your own responsibilities. In turn, the company will run more smoothly, and your team will feel more appreciated.

4. Interpersonal conflicts

Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."

She did not mean that great leaders lack empathy. On the contrary; our best ideas come from understanding the lives and experiences of others. Excellent thinkers channel their interest in humanity into their work; they do not engage in office politics and idle gossip.

Engaging in status games or worrying about who is in the boss's good graces is at best a waste of everyone's time and a distraction from the important work that needs to be done. At worst, being too concerned with how you're perceived can make you harder to get along with which will hinder fluid teamwork.

5. Trying to do too much

"Specialization is for insects," wrote Robert Heinlein. There's much to be said for being a "scanner" and having a broad range of interests and experience. The danger kicks in when you try to do so much, that you find yourself unable to focus on anything long enough to see it through. 

If you need to correct this tendency, we recommend rigorously limiting your to-do list. Give yourself no more than four big things to accomplish in any one day. As time goes on, these little accomplishments will add up to a larger sense of accomplishment leading to well-earned confidence.  More information on being productive can be found here.

If you are short handed and need help to get the job done please let us know. Get in touch to learn more about how the a.team can help find your dream team.


Search

Recent Posts


Tags


Archive