Artisan Blog

Giving and Receiving Constructive Feedback

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Giving and Receiving Constructive Feedback

In order to be constructive, feedback must be mindful, purposeful, well-informed, and well-intentioned. It must also be clearly understood and easy to act upon. The purpose of constructive feedback is not to reward or punish; it is to share valuable information and insights so the entire team will be in a better position to accomplish its goals.

Whether you're giving or receiving feedback after an interview, portfolio review, annual employee performance session, or client presentation you can benefit from ideas in the highly regarded book Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High, by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler. This book offers a lot of insight, along with a helpful checklist to keep in mind, whether you want to share notes with your colleagues or want to listen more deeply to mutually uncover opportunities for improvement.

"Start With the Heart"

Your observations will be of more value if you practice seeing (and feeling) the world from the recipient's perspective. Likewise, if you can hear the hopes, fears, and emotions behind the feedback you receive, you may be more able to appreciate it as a gift. If you struggle with compassion or often find yourself on the defensive, the toolkit of Nonviolent Communication can change your perspective.

"Stay in Dialogue"

For feedback to be constructive, both parties must talk to each other, not at each other. Our relevant content on active listening has workable ideas on how to keep the paths of communication open.

"Make it Safe"

Safety is one of the most fundamental human needs; if safety is in doubt, addressing higher-level needs is not as easy. Part of building strong relationships is giving colleagues space, to be honest with each other without anyone feeling threatened. The most constructive moments happen in a calm environment within an atmosphere of mutual respect and only after any tensions or distractions have been dealt with.

"Don't Get Hooked By Emotion (Or Hook Them)"

Clear communication happens above the noise and static of aggression, manipulation, or games of status. To give and receive constructive feedback, you must work around any emotional tactics and triggers and maintain your focus on what is true, what is useful, and the objectives you share.

"Agree on a Mutual Purpose"

Make sure constructive feedback is shared on a common ground. This means setting your goals upfront, being transparent about what you hope to gain, and recognizing each other as allies on the same journey, headed in the same direction.

"Separate Facts from Story"

We, humans, excel at constructing narratives; we use this skill to find patterns in our experiences and to make sense of the world. To remain open to new information and wisdom, we must practice setting aside our stories and pay attention to things objectively, as they are, in a way both parties can understand and agree upon. Things are almost never precisely what they may seem!

"Agree on a Clear Action Plan"

Every transmission of constructive feedback should conclude with a set of concrete, realistic, shared goals. The best feedback often results in a plan of action, and once the plan of action is followed through to everyone's satisfaction, then you know the feedback was constructive!

At Artisan Creative, we believe the surest path to professional growth is through better communication. Get in touch today and start the conversation!

 

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 480th issue of our a.blog.

 


4 Tips for Being a Better Co-Worker

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

4 Tips for Being a Better Co-Worker

 

Whether you're working on-site or remotely, as part of an agency or in-house team, it is increasingly important to work more respectfully and effectively with others. Good team players are in demand because they get results, are collaborative and easy to work with. Moreover, maintaining a positive attitude toward those around you especially through challenging times will ripple out into all areas of your life.

Here are four easy to be a better coworker in 2018 and beyond.

1. Communication

As interdependent creatures, our lives require a collaborative effort. In order to contribute and do work they can take pride in, your coworkers must be heard, and know that they are heard.

Practice active listening techniques and asking questions to make sure everyone on your team has ample opportunity to shine and to add their secret sauce to the recipe. This will allow you to work more efficiently, more effectively, and will give you a chance to see what the team can accomplish when everyone has a chance to offer their best.

2. Appreciation

Everyone deserves equal respect, and we all bring different skills, talents, and passions to a team. When you praise and encourage coworkers where they excel, as well as share constructive feedback where appropriate, you have the potential to help and discover the unique greatness of each individual you work with.

When you offer appreciation, be specific. It's nice to be told, "you're awesome." It's more useful and meaningful to know what particular things that have done well. For example, you could say, " I really appreciate the way you communicate your ideas, as it opens a new perspective on how to approach this particular challenge. What other thoughts do you have on this?"

3. Credit

None of us live in a vacuum. We are each the products of our environments and of the relationships we foster with those around us. Everything we create in life is the result of an endless series of interactions and collaborations.

Therefore, when you achieve a goal or accomplish something remarkable, always share the credit with those who helped you along the way. This will show others that you think in terms of the group, which will inspire them to contribute to more success in the future.

Share your credit, and others will share your responsibility.

4. Support

Many of us spend as much time with our coworkers as we do with our friends and families. Therefore, even if you're not at the center of a colleague's life, it is important to pay attention to what's going on with them and to offer emotional support as much as you can.

If a coworker needs to step back or take time off for their physical and emotional health, let them know you respect their decision to care for themselves, and offer to pick up the slack in whatever ways are needed.

Be mindful of the humanity of everyone you work with, whether colleagues, clients, customers, or the people who serve you in any capacity - especially when it’s difficult! By sowing goodwill, and having empathy you'll accomplish more, get more of what you really want, and experience greater peace of mind.

At Artisan Creative, we strive to help professionals make the most of their careers and lives and help teams thrive. Contact us today to find your dream team.

We hope you've enjoyed the 462nd issue of our a.blog.

 


14 Collaboration Apps We Love

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

14 Collaboration Apps We Love

If your team is still using the email inbox as an organizational tool and yelling over cubicles, it’s time for you to explore some of the brilliantly useful collaboration, chat, and project management apps that are available.

Since the rise of Basecamp in the 2000s, an array of such apps has appeared, with different user interfaces, internal logic, pros, and cons. Some are focused on internal communication, while others have better document-sharing and time-management features. If you’re new to collaboration, chat, and project management apps, we suggest trying a few different ones to see which one proves most effective for your projects and your team.

In celebration of February 14th, Valentine’s Day, here are 14 apps we love because they drive collaboration. Since our Artisan Creative a.team works virtually, we rely on many of the apps below to communicate, collaborate and connect.

Basecamp

It was one of the first project management programs, and it’s still one of the simplest, with to-dos, discussions, and file-sharing capabilities that are easy to master.

Slack

This team chat app is beloved for a reason. It works well for organizing discussions, whether among groups or one-on-one. While it lacks some of the more sophisticated project-management capabilities found elsewhere, it gets things done, and it’s fun.  Slack has made our virtual team communication organized, efficient and easy.

Asana

Asana is gaining popularity for its focus on results. It works well for tracking projects, assignments, time, and contributions from team members.

Trello

Trello’s “boards” provide an engaging and friendly UI. It takes some effort to master, but it’s easy on the eyes, and it’s changed the way some teams tackle their projects.  A recent favorite, we use Trello for everything these days! From communicating about our open jobs to onboarding and training new hires, we love Trello.

Wunderlist

Microsoft acquired this German-designed task-management app and planned to sunset it, much to the chagrin of its unusually devoted user base. Despite protests, it may be absorbed by Microsoft To-Do in 2018, so give it a whirl while you can.

Discord

This voice and text chat platform, designed for gamers, is so robust and functional that it’s drawn a cult following among startups and professionals, too. It lacks strong project-management capabilities but can be used in conjunction with other programs by off-site teams who rely heavily on responsivity.

Airtable

Popular among publishers and heavy spreadsheet users, Airtable’s internal logic takes some getting used to. When you get to know it, it’s a charming and versatile suite of project-management tools with a colorful personality, with particularly strong versioning and backup capabilities.

Calendly

Calendly makes meeting planning easy! Gone are the days of emailing back and forth to schedule time for a conversation or a meeting.   Calendly integrates with our Google calendar to make life, and conversation scheduling easy!

Smartsheet

For seasoned spreadsheet-wranglers, the Smartsheet UI may look familiar. It’s a humble and practical program, comfortable for heavy Excel users, increasingly useful for those who spend time getting to know it.

LiquidPlanner

Sophisticated, expensive, and a bit intimidating, LiquidPlanner works well for larger teams with a lot of moving parts. If you’re ambitious or you’re outgrowing your current programs, give it a look.

Sharepoint

Part of the MS Office Suite, Sharepoint is popular among teams using Windows. It integrates with the chat app Yammer, and allows easy content management and collaboration across organizations.

Teamwork

With project management, chat, and an easy mobile experience under one roof, Teamwork is popular among creative and web development teams. If you enjoy the free trial, you can do an impressive amount of work using Teamwork tools.

Taskworld

This highly visual and goal-oriented project management app is popular among users of Apple products. Founded by billionaire jewelry magnate Fred Mouawad, its eccentric personality has won it a devoted cult following.

Google Drive

What started as the world’s most successful search engine has created an impressive array of products that integrate brilliantly. Between Gmail, Docs, Hangouts, and Calendars, many teams have found that they work best using nothing but Google apps, especially since the vast majority of web users have some familiarity with Google-brand UX.

As creative staffing leaders, we work with some of the most forward-thinking talent and clients in the business, which makes us experts on how professionals and teams choose their tools, manage their work, and collaborate more effectively. Contact Artisan Creative today and share your favorite app.

We hope you've enjoyed the 461st issue of our a.blog!


3 Benefits of Working Remotely

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

3 Benefits of Working Remotely

Although some work challenges may seem best tackled by teams coming together in person, with each leap forward in virtual networking technology, colleagues in far-flung locations can come together just as productively in a virtual setting. The continuous rapid pace of improvement in this area, makes it more efficient and more rewarding for creative professionals to do their work remotely.

According to The New York Times, 43% of employed Americans do at least some of their work off-site. Those who have embraced remote work, and the lifestyle that comes with it, have discovered significant benefits.

The Artisan Creative a.team has been working remotely since 2009 and we'd like to share some of those benefits with you:

More Productivity

To work remotely is to relinquish stressful and time-consuming rush-hour commutes and eliminate workplace distractions. Remote workers can create routines, schedules, and environments that are best suited to their own preferences and patterns, which often result in getting more done, in less time, with less hassle than would be required to complete the same tasks in an office.

To work well without constant oversight requires some discipline and responsibility, and for those who excel at it, remote work can be an enormous boon to their careers, improve their results, and stimulate a new work ethic.

More Freedom

For those with the discipline and independence to live a remote work based lifestyle, traditional borders and living restrictions have disappeared.

By being adept at working off-site, building their networks, and collaborating well virtually, professionals no longer need to relocate to prohibitively expensive cities to advance their careers. Some even choose to become "digital nomads" and travel as they work, seeing the world while pursuing creative careers on their laptops and mobile devices.

Even if the corporate headquarters is across town, having the liberty to work from home, a co-working space, or a coffee shop can open new lifestyle options for those who wish to spend more time with their friends and families or simply have the space to create.

More Ease

Off-site work used to be much more of a challenge and a commitment for all parties involved. Now, with so many effective options, much of the past friction has been eliminated.

As mentioned earlier, the technology that drives document-sharing, teleconferences, virtual meetings, and location-independent digital collaboration has advanced tremendously, and it gets better every day.

There may come a time in the not-so-distant future when the majority of teams do most of their work and collaboration remotely. Already, the increase of remote work is popular with the rising Millennial Generation and represents a wider range of lifestyle choices in a highly networked global society.

Contact Artisan Creative to prepare for the future of work and learn how to thrive in a changing creative economy.

We hope you've enjoyed the 460th issue of our weekly a.blog.


Working with Millennials

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Working with Millennials

The Millennial generation, loosely defined as those born between 1980 and 1999, now comprises the largest group of living adults. They are the first generation to come of age with high-speed internet access as a central part of their lives, which has shaped their culture and collective worldview. This Millennial generation is having a noticeable impact on the world of business, which will only increase as Baby Boomers retire.

Of course, no group as large as Millennials is going to be uniform, and there are some trends in thought and behavior that are unique to this generation of digital natives. The experiences of Millennials position them to offer insight that can ultimately make the workplace more modern, more productive, and more exciting for everyone.

If you are nervous about working with Millennials, relax - they are much more like previous generations than they are different. You can collaborate more effectively with team members if you keep these four principles in mind.

1. Be Flexible - Keep an Open Mind

The lifelong adventures of Millennials on the internet and social media have made them less rooted to fixed locations. They have friends all over the world; their social groups aren't anchored by geography, and their careers won't be, either.

As teleconferencing technologies continue to improve, expect telecommuting and offsite work to grow more popular. If you can, create flexible work schedules for Millennials. They work as hard as any other generation, just not necessarily according to the strict parameters of the traditional 9-to-5.

Likewise, be open to new technological innovations of all sorts, including those that may disrupt your existing workflow. Millennials have spent their whole lives living through massive technological upheaval, and can adapt quickly and effectively to change.

2. Lead With Your Mission

Studies show that Millennials are less interested in perks, social status, or lavish compensation than they are in making a positive difference in the world and living in ways that are congruent with their values.

To hire and retain top Millennial talent, be clear on the values that drive your culture and never waiver from what matters. Be a good corporate citizen and have a zero-tolerance policy toward hypocrisy. Make sure your culture welcomes and supports everyone on the team. Be a good corporate citizen, even if it may seem to make things more difficult in the short run.

If your company is unclear on its core mission, this is a strong call to consider your values, rediscover the reasons your company was founded, and consider what sort of world you want to live in.

3. Be Transparent, Be Human

Social media and other digital breakthroughs are a mixed blessing. In some ways, they have brought us closer together.

Millennials are less covetous of privacy and more comfortable with sharing. They are less inclined to compartmentalize their lives or to hide their "private" selves from their employers and coworkers.

To be an effective manager, you must reciprocate this transparency and trust. It’s okay to be flawed and even rough around the edges, as long as you embrace the unique contours of your personality.

No one is perfect. Everyone is human. In our modern digital landscape, it doesn’t make sense to hide. This creates an opportunity to embrace who we are and to be our best selves.

Get comfortable with informality. Being a serious worker doesn't always require strict conformity and decorum. Encourage your younger team members to nurture a variety of interests and to have robust lives outside of work.

4. Keep the lines of communciation Open

Communicating effectively with millennials will allow them to fully integrate with your company and garner respect for you and your product if they understand the company's vision, mission And values. This generation needs to feel they have a voice that is heard. Taking the time to listen and giving a platform to share ideas will mean that they will talk openly and honestly with your team and management. This input is invaluable as a manager and should provide a meaningful and long-lasting communication style.

As the world rapidly changes, those members of your team with diverse interests and full lives will offer the confidence, creativity, and adaptability you need to stay relevant and successful.

In our decades of experience working with top creative clients and talent, we have learned how businesses can use change to their advantage and thrive in interesting times. Contact Artisan today to learn what we can do for you.

 

We hope you enjoy the 453rd issue of our weekly a.blog.


Nurturing Your Team's Culture

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Nurturing Your Team's Culture

 

A few weeks ago, I traveled to San Francisco for SHIFT: The Culture Conference, where I saw entrepreneurial legend Arianna Huffington speak. With wisdom, empathy, and sharp comic timing, Huffington shared her ten rules for creating a healthy company culture.

You can watch the whole conference here (Huffington's segment begins near the 35-minute mark). Just in case you're strapped for time, we've summarized her ten principles below.

1. Make Sure Everyone Gets Enough Sleep

Huffington's recent work on corporate culture and self-improvement has focused heavily on the necessity of getting a full eight hours' sleep. While she concedes that a few rare individuals can function on less, you are almost definitely among the vast majority who need plenty of sleep to perform at your best.

This principle extends to working with your body's needs and rhythms, rather than against them. Instead of pounding coffee, take a deep breath, get some real rest, or walk outside. If you treat your body and mind well, you will feel good, and do better at work.

2. Let Go of the Growth-Above-All Mindset

A truly successful company will have a vision, mission, purpose, and values outside of growth for growth's sake. Even from a purely practical standpoint, making your work meaningful is a better way to retain good employees, keep your team together, and meet your important objectives.

If your only purpose as a company is perpetual growth, examine your priorities and reflect on why you got started and what sort of world you want to be a part of.

3. No Brilliant Jerks Allowed

Huffington decries the "cult of top performers" and warns against lionizing aggressive, antisocial personalities at the expense of team cohesion and harmony. If your company is too beholden to employees who behave like arrogant celebrities, consider that they may do more harm than good.

4. Learn to Build Teams

On a similar note, Huffington suggests thinking of your team as a networked unit, rather than a collection of individuals. While humans need eight hours of sleep and plenty of down time, your company should in some sense, be "always on," so your team can consistently communicate in one voice, reflect one vision, and share the same methods and objectives

5. Treat Culture as Your Immune System

Anyone with an active lifestyle will be exposed to germs, and any company that's taking on serious challenges will face threats and encounter toxicity. If your culture is healthy and strong, you will be able to survive these attacks, and improve through exposure to the elements. With a strong immune system, you won't need to be quarantined or use too much disinfectant.

6. Empower Women

In the wake of ongoing debates around gender gaps in hiring and compensation, along with recent controversies around issues such as harassment, the culture of business is now becoming more friendly to women. This is a long overdue awakening, and make sure your company is ahead of the curve in this regard.

Allow for a generous maternity leave and areas for nursing mothers. Companies that put a priority on empowering women to thrive and succeed will have an ethical and practical advantage.

7. Meet the Growing Demand for Purpose

The Millennial Generation will soon make up the majority of America's workforce, and numerous studies have found that Millennials demand not just money, not just flexibility, they also require a strong sense of purpose in their work.

This goes back to Rule #2; as Millennials assume power, the world's culture is changing around them. This creates an opportunity for your own culture to aspire to a greater sense of meaning.

8. Model Culture Changes at the Top

Your employees will model their actions less on what you demand or expect than on the behaviors and values you manifest in your own behavior. If you want to change your culture, set the example. Once your actions are consistent with your values, your team will know that these are values worth following.

9. As Much As You Can, Work Out Problems Face-To-Face

Huffington celebrates transparency. She encourages creating a culture where people feel safe airing their grievances and finding solutions together in a spirit of cooperation, rather than going behind each other's backs.

Although certain issues must be hashed out behind the scenes, aspire to make honesty, openness, and transparency among your core values.

10. Turn Crisis Into Opportunity

As a board member, Huffington has witnessed several companies in the throes of serious crisis marshal their resources to correct mistakes and reemerge better,and stronger than before.

The most fearsome struggles and challenges can often create the greatest opportunities for insight, perseverance, and excellence. Aspire not to avoid difficulties; aspire to transcend them.

Attending events like this is one of the ways Artisan Creative stays engaged with the world of ideas and continually improves its own culture. When you work with us, we will motivate you to do the same, and give you all the tools you need to be your best and continuously improve. Contact us today to learn more.

 

We hope you enjoy the 447th issue of our weekly a.blog.

 



4 Effective Meeting Formats

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Although many in-person meetings are still held in offices or conference rooms, try leaving the office behind where possible to promote flexible thinking and energized collaboration.  Managers are creating playful and unconventional environments to help their teams think differently.

Some innovative companies have found that fresh and powerful insights can emerge when they challenge conventional notions of how meetings are conducted and bring people together by holding different meeting formats.

Here are four meeting formats that startups and large corporations have used to bring colleagues together in new and refreshing ways. If you want to treat your team to a dash of the unexpected, give one of these meetings a try!

Walking Meetings

With the popularity of standing desks and on-site gyms, it is clear that creative professionals and companies prize fitness and physical activity. Incorporating exercise into routine activities has been proven to increase creativity.

Walking meetings are a part of this trend. Instead of sitting in a conference room or office, many teams have found that moving their muscles, getting their hearts pumping, getting fresh air and experiencing a change of scenery can be more fun and productive. Harvard Business Review has some best practices for walking meetings

Active Meetings

If everyone in your group is up for breaking a sweat, you might try a meeting that entails additional physical activity.

In Fast Company, Stephanie Vozza shares unusual meeting formats from twelve cutting-edge companies. For example, Genera Games, holds meetings on the basketball court. Such a meeting can drive nimble thinking, allow players to indulge their competitive streaks, and, in the case of Genera, helps put employees in the mindset of the mobile gamers who use their products.

Creative Meetings

At Plum Organics, team members are encouraged to hit the books - coloring books. As they meet and discuss business matters, they engage "right-brained" thought by using paper, colored pencils, and crayons to jog neurons that aren't often in play in such settings.

According to Innovation Director Jen Brush, as featured in Vozza’s piece, an activity such as coloring promotes active listening, an important workplace skill that suffers when employees are "multitasking on something like email."

Brush holds coloring meetings every Thursday and says they have been an important factor in developing new products.

Gamified Meetings

Another example in Vozza's article is Darrell Ghert, a VP at the Inqusium division of Cvent. In the past, the quality of Ghert's meetings suffered from chronic lateness - some team members consistently showed up ten minutes behind schedule. This problem was a stubborn fixture of the office culture, not something he could fix by making threats.

Rather than getting frustrated, Ghert came up with a fun idea to help team members modify their behavior. Anyone who is late to one of his meetings is now required to sing. "We’ve heard the national anthem, happy birthday, and nursery rhymes," he says. However, these performances have become more rare, as almost everyone now shows up on time.

This sort of gamification is a step beyond the traditional rewards and demerits of the workplace - it is a system that improves processes while also itself serving as an example of creative thinking and problem-solving.

At Artisan Creative, we are deeply engaged with the changing culture of the workplace and want to help our world-class creative talent and clients do their best work, take advantage of new opportunities, and mine crucial insights that can change the world. Contact us today to learn more.

We are celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years, we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 438th issue of our weekly a.blog.


4 Tips for Better Brainstorming

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

 


While generating fresh ideas requires limber and liberated thought, there is more to consider than the standard group brainstorming techniques.

The most productive and galvanizing idea generating sessions are guided by qualified facilitators applying best practices under the right conditions. According to one study, brainstorming sessions that meet these guidelines can generate more than four times the number of useful ideas than those that don't.

While there's no substitute for a group brainstorming session led by a trained professional, if you know and apply the following best practices, you will likely get more out of your brainstorming session, making it a more satisfying experience for your group and a more fruitful pursuit for an organization.

Establish Ground Rules

Make sure all participants understand what a brainstorming session involves, and don’t get caught up in problem solving. Add ground rules that best reflect your group and culture and set expectations ahead of time.

Set the Setting

Make sure all participants have the opportunity to plan ahead for the session and think about the key questions and issues in advance. Allow space for solo thinking ahead of time to enable members to contribute freely, avoid groupthink and generate a larger number of ideas.

The session itself should take place in a quiet and comfortable place, free of the normal workday distractions. Some organizations rent off-site rooms (such as those available in co-working spaces). A change of scenery may help shake up established assumptions and patterns of thought.

Ask the Right Questions

To be useful, brainstorming must be more than a group of people talking. To borrow from Proust, the right questions, games, and structure can inspire participants to ideate "like good poets whom the tyranny of rhyme forces into the discovery of their finest lines."

This excellent piece offers a menu of structured brainstorming exercises that may help generate more productive thinking and discussion. The most important factor for success is to build the session around a powerful central question. According to the research of Flow author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the brightest thinking is prompted by the strongest questions. Create a central question or theme that best describes the issue you are brainstorming around.

Write First, Talk Second

In a piece for Fast Company, Rebecca Greenfield recommends that much of the mental action take place before the group convenes. All participants submit their ideas in advance, which can then be made anonymous and put to a group vote. This mitigates the influence of more dominant and vocal personalities, empowering everyone to contribute more and establishing a "meritocracy of ideas."

At the least, the session should be set up and run in such a way that constructive criticism is encouraged and the loudest voices don't dominate the exchange. This requires rigorous adherence to time limits and other rules, and a pervasive atmosphere of mutual respect. This can be a delicate balance to establish and maintain.

Each organization is different. Its particular decision-making criteria will factor into whether or not actionable ideas emerge from brainstorming. Thus, leading a productive brainstorming session can take some trial and error, but the investment will pay off in greater satisfaction, innovation, and organizational cohesion.

 

Artisan Creative's a.team is here to help you build your dream team. Contact us today for assistance with your hiring needs.

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years, we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 436th issue of our weekly a.blog.



Understanding Team Dynamics

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


As hiring managers, we have to think about our existing team dynamics each time we add a new team member.

Our new hires will need to be fully integrated into our existing team structure—and the success or failure of that integration depends on our orientation and on-boarding best practices, our timing, and the team’s group performance requirements.

Additional considerations range from current interpersonal team structure to culture and skills level of the current team.

What type of environment are we adding the new person into and what is our goal? Are we looking for someone to strengthen missing skills, to complement the current thinking, or to challenge the team and take their performance to the next level?

In 1965, Dr. Bruce Tuckman introduced the team-development model of Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing.

It’s an interesting study based on recognizing where your current team is, and what happens as a new member is added.

In this example, we’ll use a marketing team to demonstrate.

Forming

In the marketing team’s forming stage, the Marketing Manager or Director will be very hands-on to set the tone for team, establish direction, set individual roles and responsibilities and provide overall vision and guidance.

The Marketing Manager must be prepared to manage every aspect of decision making, and answer questions about the team's goals and objectives, as well as set expectations internally and with external stakeholders.

At this stage, the team tends to avoid conflict or push boundaries. The team is just in the process of forming—and there are more individual thinkers operating in silos.

This is a perfect opportunity for individuals to get to know the strengths of one another, create friendships, and align in order to move from silo-ed thinkers towards a larger team mentality.

Storming

In the storming phase, the team may not be in total agreement or come to consensus quickly. Individual members may try to find their own voice within the group and establish presence. There may be some challenges and conflict—this is OK! Breaking paradigms and new ideas can emerge here, and the team has the ability to grow. The Marketing Manager guides the team through this stage, allowing the team to confront their diversity of thought, and ensuring that challenges or drama don’t derail the team’s success.

Norming

In the norming phase, the new team starts to hit its stride. There is harmony, and synergy amongst the group and the Marketing Manager moves to be more of a facilitator than a hands-on implementer. The team is aware of responsibilities, and natural leaders develop within the group to handle simpler decision making on their own.

There is commitment, strong workflow, good discussions as well as building friendships amongst teammates.

Performing

In the performing phase, the team is high-functioning with a shared strategic plan.The vision is clear, and the team knows its purpose and its why.The team is focused, and clear on goals, takes responsibility for achieving them, and makes most of their decisions against criteria agreed upon with the leader.

The team has a high degree of independence, and can delegate tasks internally. They can resolve internal conflicts as they come up, and have strong interpersonal relationships.

The Manager moves into more of a coaching role and can assist with growth and development, as they are no longer being called upon to manage day-to-day tasks. However, it remains important for the manager to ensure the team is still being innovative and not falling into complacency of thought, or group think.

Sharing the knowledge of the concept of "Team development” can be helpful to a team—especially in the storming phase.

As you look to add to your teams, dissolve project teams, or move team members to other groups, it’s a good idea to be aware of the overall team dynamics and recognize what stage the group is in. It will certainly play an integral part into your orientation and onboarding practices.

Artisan Creative's a.team is here to help you build your dream team. Contact us today for assistance with your hiring needs.

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years, we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 435th issue of our weekly a.blog.


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 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.



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