Artisan Blog

Boss vs. Leader

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Boss vs. Leader

As the country celebrated Bosses Day this week, it got me thinking about some of my own bosses over the years. It also got me thinking about leadership – about how some of the best bosses I’ve had not only managed my work but also allowed me to be part of the process. 

But what’s the real difference between a “boss” and a true “leader”?

The Boss

We think of a boss as an authority figure. Someone who makes decisions when they need to be made, including hiring and firing. Someone with a vision of the company, who sees the bigger picture. Who delegates tasks to others and keeps the machinery of the company moving, hopefully smoothly.

All of those things need to happen, but in a top-down culture, a Boss can also neglect some things that leaders never do. Does a Boss:
  • Ask for input before making decisions?
  • Take employees’ needs and desires into account?
  • Welcome feedback?
  • Allow employees to try new strategies that he or she did not think of?
  • Seek out talent who know more than they do in their area of expertise?
I’m sure we all agree that a great Boss does all these things. Sadly, many Bosses do not.

The Leader

A leader takes the role of “boss” a step further. A leader:
  • Knows and respects the knowledge and experience of his or her team and utilizes both
  • Rewards employees for creative solutions
  • Gives credit where credit is due
  • Nurtures talent and helps it to grow deeper
  • Is happiest surrounded by a talented team
One of my favorite sayings is: “If you find that you’re the smartest person in the room, find another room.” No person grows without being challenged and companies don’t grow without true leadership. 

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Building a More Creative Team

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Building a More Creative Team


Creativity is essential to innovation and innovation, in today’s marketplace, is essential to success. While Artisan can definitely help you find creative talent for your business, there are also ways of helping the people you employ now be more creative, too!

Did you know that 68% of people believe that creativity is something people are born with and cannot be taught? This opinion, however, has been disproven in studies as far back as the 1970’s. The difference is whether people developed their creativity early in life or whether they need some nurturing to bring their creativity to its full potential.

Managers can have a huge influence on the creative ideas and output of the people on their team. Some of their direct reports could already be fonts of ideas, coming up with new ways of solving problems every day. Other team members may not feel like they are creative at all. Both groups need a safe environment to talk through all the ideas they have until the good ones rise to the top. If they feel judged during the ideation process, they could become less willing to share.

Make sure you are giving your creative team the time and space to come up with ideas. Be sure to include those team members who need encouragement during brainstorms, too. Ask for their opinions, offer incentives for innovative ideas to everyone - not just the people labeled “creatives” in your organization.  Remember, good ideas can come from anyone.

The more people in your company who are using their creative abilities to find new ways of doing business, new products and new ways of communicating, the more success you will have and the happier your company culture will become.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Make Meetings Count!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Make Meetings Count!


Creatives are not known for their love of business meetings. Give them a project and let them run with it, don’t make them sit and talk about it.

However, since clear communication between designers, marketing experts, developers and their clients is essential to happy and successful results, business meetings are a necessary evil. 

But they don’t have to be!  Evil, I mean.

If you are in charge of a meeting, you are also in charge of the elements that can make or break it in terms of productivity.

Here are a few tips for making your meetings smooth, efficient and engaging:

No electronics - I know, everyone will groan. But having people check out of the discussion even once during a business meeting makes it take longer and be more repetitive. No one wants to hear an explanation twice. Remind your attendees that it means they will be out of the meeting faster!

Make a schedule - It might feel over-controlling, but make a schedule for your meeting of how long you will spend on each topic.  Build in time to cover "other" items or things that might come up during the meeting as well. When you are out of time for something, move on. If your team really wants it to move quickly, set a timer, so when the bell rings, that’s it! 

Stay on-topic - If someone starts to go off on a tangent, politely remind them that there will be an opportunity to discuss it at a later time.  Or, if required, another meeting can be scheduled to discuss it further!

Be mindful of Body Language Cues - Are your meeting participants showing signs that they are bored?  Or is everyone interested in the topics being discussed.  Keep attendees engaged by asking questions, encouraging participation and keeping the schedule moving.

It might sound like you are supposed to be the “bad guy” at your meeting - always telling people “time’s up!” or "off topic".  One way to avoid that is to try assigning roles to different people in the meeting - note taker, time keeper, etc.  If you can get everyone into the habit of running efficient meetings, your team will stop complaining about them.  Promise!

Any other tried and tested techniques you can recommend?

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Tax Tips for Freelancers—For Next Year!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tax Tips for Freelancers—For Next Year!


Although you still have until midnight tonight to file your taxes (or an extension), it is never too early to think about how to handle your taxes better next year.

As we are neither tax professionals nor claim to be so, but rather a community of freelancers and freelance placement specialists - we can only recommend the following tips to help keep our freelance talent organized for Tax Time 2013:

Track your mileage - Especially if you drive to pick up work or deliver it to your clients, keep a record of trips back and forth. You can’t count commuting miles, but if you work offsite, mileage to and from meetings can add up to a hefty sum.


Create a dedicated office space - You can only take a home office deduction if your space is used exclusively for work. But it doesn’t take a lot of space to count as a home office. Dedicating a small area of your home to work can help with deductions for part of your rent and utilities expenses.


Keep your Receipts - Depending on the nature of your business, there are often a number of deductions you can make for things like Equipment, Advertising or Entertainment Expenses.  Save your receipts and work with a tax professional to help you determine what can actually be written off as part of your business.


Save some money - Depending on your situation - you may end up owing some tax next spring.  You don’t want it to be a surprise. Therefore, it's always best to put a bit of each paycheck into a seperate account - just for tax payments in the following year.  Worse case, if you have nothing to pay - you can always give yourself a refund!


Make a list - If you work for a lot of different clients over the course of the year, it’s a good idea to keep a list of each client, their contact information and how much you made while working for them.  There are a number of invoicing programs out there to assist with this as well.  NOTE: If you go over $600 for any one client, they should send you a 1099 in January 2013.  This list can help you follow up with any late documentation come Feb or March.

These are just some things that have helped my family at tax time. Do you have any great tips? We would love to hear them in the comments!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Top Tips for Starting your Management Career Right

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Top Tips for Starting your Management Career Right


We’ve talked before about what to do when you think it’s time to quit your job and even how to handle difficult managers, but what about being a manager yourself? 

I was asked recently where I wanted to be in five years and my answer was “Managing a team.”   It would be so rewarding, I think, to focus strategically on a company's business while helping a team accomplish both the company's and their own personal development goals.

But wanting to be a good manager - and actually being one are two very different things.  Whether you're new to the world of management - or a veteran in the field - here are some of our top tips for being a great manager from day one - the kind of manager your employees love to have:

  • Be a Mentor - Part of your job as a manager is developing the careers of the people who report to you. Help each of your direct reports improve their skills, even the exceptional ones.  Take the time to learn how each of your team members likes to communicate, what motivates them to succeed and what their career aspirations look like long-term.

  • Act Quickly - Conflicts on your team will arise, and they must be dealt with right away, fairly and transparently.   Leave them alone and they will get worse, without fail.

  • Don’t Leave Anyone Behind - Someone on your team made a big mistake.  It’s going to be awfully hard - maybe impossible - for them to make it right on their own. They need your guidance and your confidence in them to recover.   Even if the problem is not resolved, your relationship with and respect from your subordinate will not be tarnished.

  • Be Proud of Your Team - And let them know it!  Always give praise to your team, and it's individual members, in a public forum if possible.  Never claim success as a result of your leadership.

  • Be Approachable - If your team admires your acumen, they want to talk to you, ask you questions and get your feedback.  Make it easy for them to do so. It makes them feel respected and like they can make a difference.
Over the years, I have had some great bosses who helped me grow, and some who couldn’t overcome a lack of confidence in their own abilities to mentor a subordinate.  As for me, I would definitely like to be the former when given the opportunity!

Wendy Stackhouse
, Consultant for Artisan Creative

How to Decrease Turnover & Keep Employees Happy

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How to Decrease Turnover & Keep Employees Happy


You might think that with today’s high unemployment rate, as a business owner you don’t have to worry about turnover - nobody’s leaving, right?  Wrong!

The fact is, for every person who is putting off looking for a new job, there are those who are already working and planning to move on. As soon as they can.

Why?  They are unhappy where they are.

Employers have downsized and added to the remaining staff’s responsibilities.  Employees are stretched thinner and thinner.  Benefit packages have shrunk and, with fewer retirements, there is less opportunity for promotion and career advancement.  Companies are not doing enough to recognize their talent and do what they need to do to keep them happy.

Fewer rewards, more work, less potential for advancement = looking for a new role.

But can companies really afford this kind of turnover?

In reviewing an article on the cost of turnover, although there are several formulas that try to determine an actual number, no one knows the actual answer - because every situation is unique.  However, one thing everyone seems to agree on is that the cost is always too high! 

As the economy improves, however incrementally, unhappy employees are going to be causing more and more turnover all over the country.

The good news is that companies can combat potential talent turnover right from the start by improving their actual hiring process. 

  • Utilizing recruiting resources - whether internally or through an expert staffing agency - is instrumental in hiring successful long-term employees. As specialists in talent search, Recruiters have access to large networks of potential talent whom they identify and qualify specifically for your company, culture and role.  This multi-step approach ensures they are selecting the right talent for your position - talent who are interested in, motivated by and excited about your opportunity. 
  • Recruiters are also vital to helping address unexpected turnover as well. With access to thousands of talent, Staffing Agencies can quickly find stopgap solutions, providing freelance or contract talent until the empty full time position is filled.  With HR resources often stretched across many positions, utilizing external staffing resources for specific full time hires will usually speed the search as well.  Recruiters direct access to talent networks, existing relationships in the field and use of multiple job boards all aid in a more efficient and effective candidate search.

In addition to improving internal hiring processes, employers must also be willing to make changes internally as well.  Money and productivity losses due to employee turnover can be minimized by thinking about keeping your employees happy and fulfilled: 

  • Find new ways to publicly reward good work and show talent they are valued
  • Offer more vacation days to counterbalance the longer hours now being required
  • Offer optional telecommuting opportunities to create better employee work/life balance


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