Artisan Blog

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.

A Freelancer’s Guide to Expert Client Communication

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

 

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20 years in staffing and recruitment and over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 407th issue of our weekly a.blog.

Any freelancer will know that running your own business requires a broad set of skills and the ability to wear many hats. In addition to doing your job well, you have to manage clients, invoices, new business development and a whole host of other responsibilities. To be a successful freelancer involves satisfied clients with repeat business. With this in mind, how do you please clients and how does good communication affect your business?

Establishing good communication from the start is the pathway to successful projects. By keeping an open dialogue, building rapport and ensuring mutual understanding, clients will want to continue working with you. Revisions and misunderstandings are lessened, which means everyone involved will be satisfied with the outcome.

Listening vs. Talking

Initial stages are all about the client and their needs. Most often clients are coming to you because they have a problem and they need you to solve it. This is your opportunity to listen by giving the client ample time to speak and express their vision.

Project Intake

Managing new clients can be tricky and if you’re busy or feeling stressed it’s easy to miss the all-important details. Create a standard project intake form with key questions to ask each client. Your methodical approach towards taking on a new assignment will be noticed and ensures that you’ll never forget to ask a crucial question.

A Consultative Approach

Clients are hiring you because of your expertise and they’re trusting that you will do what is best for their business. They value your input, so be confident, speak up and offer advice when it’s needed.

Never Assume

The quickest way to a misunderstanding is by making assumptions. If you’re unsure, get clarification. The old adage of “measure twice, cut once” rings true here.

Put It In Writing

If you are taking lots of calls with your clients, always follow up and summarize what you discussed. Whether it’s revisions, project scopes or fees, send a confirmation via email so everyone is on the same page. Better yet, create a project scope form, and a change order form to manage deliverables and edits.

Response Time

As a rule of thumb, aim to respond to a client within 24 hours. Set expectations and deliver to those standards. Unless you’re on instant messaging such as Skype or Slack, clients will appreciate knowing they can expect your response within a set time allocation. If you’re unable to keep to a 24-hour timeframe, let the client know your schedule and that they are a priority. Ask clients for their schedules so you’ll know when to expect feedback and revisions too.

With a few minor processes added to your freelance workflow, you can minimize misunderstandings, enhance productivity and align communication. Focusing on client satisfaction will ensure you are always successful.

What additional experiences can you share with other freelancers?

 

 


Integrating Action Into Your Goal Setting Process

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20 years in staffing and recruitment and over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you.   We hope you enjoy the 406th issue of our weekly a.blog.

You’ve set your goals, created your vision board and have gathered all the momentum and excitement you can muster to get everything accomplished right now…. so how do you keep your determination going to see your goals come to fruition?

Once you set your broader vision for the year, the next step is to break down each goal into actionable steps. Otherwise,  just the thought of how to get started can rapidly become overwhelming.

Below are 5 tips to help integrate action into your goal setting process.

1. Work with the end goal in mind.

What action steps are needed to happen daily or weekly in order for the goal to be accomplished? For example, if your goal is to learn a new language, the actionable steps may be:

  • research online classes or sign-up for physical classes
  • download the Duolingo app
  • study
  • join a meet-up/group

2. Be Specific: Add a timeline or date for accomplishing each step.

For example:

  • research and sign up for onlineor physical classes by 1/15/17
  • download the Duolingo app by 1/5/17
  • study 1 hour per day ( or 7 hours per week) at 4 pm each day
  • research meet-up/groups by 1/10/17, join a group by 2/1/17

3. Protect the time on your calendar.

It’s easy for urgent matters to take over what is important. Schedule time for the important items, otherwise the weeks will fly by with little attention to the steps needed to attain your goals. Make an appointment with yourself and set a reminder!

4. Get an accountability partner.

Share your goals with friends and co-workers. Ask one of them to be your accountability partner and plan a monthly check in with them.

5. Celebrate your wins along the way.

Be proud of your accomplishments—no matter how small… as long as they are on the right path to help you accomplish your goals, then it’s worth a celebration.

An action plan and timeline for accomplishing each step will put you on the right path to accomplish your goals

Please share any tips on how you set goals and develop plans for accomplishing them.

Visual Goal Setting

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


Artisan Creative is celebrating 20 years in staffing and recruitment and over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 405th issue of our weekly a.blog.

As part of our annual goal setting, each member of the Artisan Creative a.team creates a vision board and presents it at our first meeting of the new year. Our boards are a collection of short and long term goals that include both personal and professional aspirations.

Presenting it to the team develops accountability and enables the group to learn more about each team member’s ambitions, hopes and dreams. Some people set a theme for their board/year—others use inspirational quotes. What they all have in common is the shared use of imagery that inspires, tells a story and conveys a message to create a powerful visualization tool.

In addition to sharing our visions and goals with the group at the onset of our new year, we review our boards mid-year, and also share a recap at our year-end meeting. This sense of accountability and the revisiting of our goals helps keep us on track. This activity in one of our strongest team-building exercises, as it stays “evergreen”.

Here are 5 tips to create your great vision board and get 2017 off to a good start!

  1. Select words and images that inspire and are true to your core values.
  2. Create positivity and inspiration. Have fun…imagine the integrated life/work you want to build out.
  3. Create an integrated board where elements from both your personal and professional aspirations are represented.
  4. Keep the board where you can re-visit it daily—read the inspirational messages out loud— and often!
  5. Share your hopes and dreams with others. Having an accountability partner will help you get closer to achieving your goals.

Tools needed:

  • A large poster board to give you plenty of space to visualize your year, yet small enough to hang on your wall. We use the 22 x28 size available from Staples.
  • A good pair of scissors and a strong glue stick!Make sure you invest in good glue so the pictures stay on all year long.
  • Variety of magazines to look through to find those inspiring words and pictures. 
  • (Optional) Markers/stickers to write or embellish your board.
  • Patience and Creativity!

Although electronic versions such as Pinterest also work, going old-school where you physically search for and cut out imagery and words from a magazine and decide where to place them is in itself an opportunity to reflect and plan via a very tangible exercise.

What is your goal setting process?

Happy New Year!



Our Favorite Apps of 2016

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

 


Artisan Creative is celebrating 20 years in staffing and recruitment and over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 404th issue of our weekly a.blog.

Our constant use of apps has greatly impacted how we complete tasks, stay in touch with our network and run our business. The variety of iOS and Android apps available and our reliance upon them increases exponentially year over year. For 2017, the number of smartphone users in the United States is estimated to reach 222.9 million, with the number of worldwide users forecasted to exceed a staggering 2 billion users.

Smartphones graduated from being a tool for texting and calling, to serve as an access point for managing a wide array of crucial life and work events, from job applications to house hunting, banking and healthcare.

At Artisan Creative, staying connected with our a.team and to the outside world is vital to our day to day interactions. With this in mind, we thought it would be interesting to share the apps our team felt they couldn’t live without. We’ve included everything from meditation, time management and those all-important delivery services.

Headspace

An app that makes “meditation made simple.” Headspace is your personal brain trainer that allows you to take a time out anytime, anyplace and anywhere. They already have 5 million users and you can tailor your meditation to fit with your lifestyle and schedule. It’s surprising how much calmer you feel after a 10-minute time out.

Be Focused


The Pomodoro Technique used in this app is a simple time management process that tells you to take a 5-minute break every 25 minutes. After you’ve worked four consecutive pomodoros, you’re rewarded with a longer break. Frequent breaks coupled with periods of focused attention on tasks enable you to do more and work smarter.

1Password

Protecting your identity online is every internet user’s concern. 1Password consolidates all your passwords and keeps them safe with strong encryption. It also creates difficult passwords for every site that requires a login. It integrates with desktop and mobile, meaning you never need to remember or worry about your passwords and personal information again.

Wunderlist

A cloud-based and collaborative task management app that allows you to edit, share and collaborate on your to-do list. It also sends you notifications which is handy if you are forgetful.

Slack


Slack is our go-to team communication tool. We use the desktop version every day and as we’re often running to meetings, the mobile version means we can be communicative with the team while we’re on the go.

Venmo


Owned by PayPal, Venmo is the easy way to send money to friends and family. We wouldn’t recommend sending large sums of money through the app, however, it’s a quick and painless way to split lunches, cab fares or send birthday money.

Postmates

Choosing our favorite delivery app was a tough decision for the team. Postmates comes out on top thanks to its ability to choose whether you have groceries, takeout or personal items delivered to your door in less than an hour. A new level of laziness or absolute convenience? Try it out and let us know.

Do you use any of the apps that made our list or do you have any you’d recommend to our team? Let us know in the comments below.

 



7 Tips for Researching a Company

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

 


 

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20 years in staffing and recruitment and over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 402nd  issue of our weekly a.blog.

Do you have an upcoming interview that you need to prepare for? Researching a company ahead of time gives you valuable insight for asking key questions and making an informed decision about the role and company.

Here are 7 tips for researching a company in preparation for an interview:

Website: This may seem obvious, but starting with the company’s website to find out history, focus, leadership philosophy, products and customer base are key to getting familiar with the basics. This will show you care enough about the role to prepare.

News and Recent Events: Has there been a recent merger, senior hire or product release? When appropriate, reference it during the interview to show the interviewer you are familiar with the company and product offerings. It will show you are a thorough and detail-oriented candidate.

Company Blog and Social Pages: Blogs provide great information about a company’s culture. What do they blog about? Is their company voice casual or corporate? Understanding culture and brand is crucial to succeeding in an interview. It will show you are aligned with the company culture.

Team: Perusing your interviewer’s LinkedIn profile is a must-do. Review where they’ve worked or schools they’ve attended. Do you have any connections in common? What are their interests and hobbies? Do you know any other employees in the company? Try to find some common ground. This will give you a better chance of connecting during your interview.

Current Hires: Is the company hiring multiple roles or filling a replacement position? Take a look at other open positions. This will give you insight about the company’s growth and focus.

Inside Info: Take a look at Glassdoor to read company reviews and discover information about a company’s hiring process, employee responsibilities and employee reviews. This will give you additional feedback from present and former employees.

Arrive Early: When it comes to interview day, arrive 10-15 minutes early so you have an opportunity to sit and wait in the lobby and get a good feel for culture and office environment. This will give you an opportunity to interact with some of the other team members and see the culture in action.

Are there any other research tips you follow before an interview? Don’t forget to read the rest of our interview advice before your next interview.

 

 


Play to Your Strengths

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

We hope you enjoy the 401st issue of our weekly a.blog.

In our 20 years of running a successful creative staffing agency, we’ve met some companies who spend a lot of time and money focusing on an employee’s weakness and helping them overcome those weaknesses through ongoing training.

At Artisan Creative, we decided to focus on our team’s strengths instead. We believe the best way to keep team members engaged and productive is to develop and invest in their individual strengths. By consistently playing to everyone’s natural talents, our team has become better at collaborating and communicating with our clients and talent.

This year we selected StrengthsFinder to create a common platform to build and communicate from. Each team member first took the on-line test and with the help of a certified coach, we reviewed the finer details during an in-person session to help find and align the collective strengths of the team.

This created an open line of communication within our A. Team and has enabled us to better understand ourselves, our behaviors and reactions to situations.

Here are a few pointers from StrengthsFinder that we now use on an ongoing basis:

1. Know your own strengths.

To best develop other people’s strengths, we must first understand our own. Only then can we help our team develop theirs. This applies equally to the candidates we screen and help throughout their careers.

We each have our own unique strengths and no two people are identical — and everyone is at their best when there is a focus on a strengths-based approach to working.

This practice fosters an environment where people feel comfortable discussing their strengths authentically. It also helps recognize team communication, natural strengths and how to maximize those strengths.

2. Understanding one's own strengths gradually leads to effective use of those strengths in the workplace. 

We can help our team understand and utilize their strengths in internal communications with other members and external communication with vendors, talent and clients.

By building on one another's strengths and accepting and accommodating differences, teams gain a keen awareness of how their strengths support their peers.

3. Help people who aren't using their strengths.

When people don't apply their strengths to a task or revert to focusing on their weaknesses instead, we can redirect attention to what they do best naturally to create their best pathway for success.

4. Harmonize team strengths.

Any team can be positioned for success when team members understand and leverage one another's strengths. We can further optimize groups by bringing together teams with complementary strengths to balance and improve performance.

5. Keep strengths top of mind.

At Artisan, we review and recap instances where a strength was beneficial in a given situation: For example, how did someone’s strategic talent provide input for a new marketing initiative, or how another team member’s “developer” talent helped one of our talent in their career path.

Understanding one another’s natural strength has enabled us to stay connected, communicative and collaborative.

What strengths do you focus on?

 


Creating and Nurturing Company Culture

Wednesday, November 09, 2016


 

At Artisan Creative, we believe in creating long lasting relationships—with our talent, with our clients and most definitely with our team.

Engaging in an integrated life-work philosophy and staying true to our core values has always been how we conduct business and have maintained our culture here at Artisan. We believe this is one of the reasons for our success over our past 20 years in this business.

We also believe that culture must be nurtured, cultivated and cared for.

As our California-based company has been virtual for over 7 years, we’ve learned to do things a little differently that allow us to continue to build a strong culture for our team members who all work remotely.

Many of our client companies have offices in multiple locations, and the tips we employ with our virtual staff can easily be applied to teams in remote locations as well as virtual teams.

Below are 5 tips for creating and nurturing company culture in a virtual work environment.

 

  1. Befriend Technology! Use Slack, Yammer or any other team communication or collaboration tool to stay connected. We hold scheduled daily Zoom video huddles to brainstorm and share ideas, and use Slack to review assignments and execute our search plans. A good CRM system keeps track of communications, meetings, appointments and client and talent information.

  2. Communicate metrics and expectations clearly— review them daily/weekly. Communicate the vital short-term goals.

  3. Create a transparent environment so people understand their value and contribution.

  4. Come together often. We have in-person team meetings once a month, and team members meet up for talent interviews and client site visits throughout the month.

  5. Meet socially! We have team activities ranging from potlucks, paint nights, bowling and dinners out. We include spouses and partners in the social outings.

Please share any best practices for growing culture within your team.

 


Body Language - What Does It Say?

Wednesday, November 02, 2016


The expression “actions speak louder than words” is often true when it comes to interviewing. Body language expert Amy Cuddy states in her TedTalk “our bodies change our minds, and our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change our outcomes.” So what does this mean when you’re going for that all-important job interview?

Interviewees must walk a fine line during job interviews. How do you convey confidence, without gloating; friendly but not overbearing; talented but not arrogant?

What are you revealing with your body language and how can you make sure your messaging is what you want it to be? Using a few simple tricks and tips can impact the outcome of your interview and help forge relationships.

Direct “face” contact: We’re often told that direct eye contact is key to building relationships and showing that you’re actively engaged. Research shows that this is not accurate. Our eyes instinctively wander around a face, jumping between a person’s eyes and mouth. Do what comes naturally to you and don’t get hung up about staring at your interviewer.

Be expressive: Sitting on your hands or staying too still can be a sign of nervousness or insecurity. Use your hands and arms to express yourself. Showing your palms can be interpreted as a sign of engagement and honesty, too. However, watch the over-gesturing.

Good posture: There are few things more unnerving than interviewing someone with bad posture (see also: limp handshakes). Sit upright in your chair, but make sure you’re comfortable and not too rigid. Lean in every now and then to show that you are engaged, but remember to be mindful of your interviewer’s personal space.

Mirroring: You may be familiar with mirroring and how it shows that someone is subconsciously interested in you if they begin mirroring your body language. This works in reverse, too. Mirroring your interviewer can help create a sense of ease and maintain rapport.

You and your interviewer are relaying more information to one another non-verbally than verbally. If you are paying attention, you can understand the information being shared and influence the information in your responses.

Do you have an upcoming interview? Check out our interview advice on the Artisan Creative website.

One-Two-One Onboarding

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Best Practices for onboarding new hires and making them feel welcome


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