Artisan Blog

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.


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!



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?

 


Reasons for Being Grateful

Wednesday, November 23, 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.

 

This is the time of the year to reflect on the past year and look forward to new opportunities and adventures ahead.

As Shawn Achor states in his popular Ted Talk and best-selling book “The Happiness Advantage” one of the ways to create happiness and positive mental change is to express gratitude on a daily basis.

Here at Artisan Creative, we are grateful for so many things and wanted to share a few with you.

We are:

  • Grateful to celebrate 20 years of creative staffing & recruitment.
  • Grateful for the incredible, dynamic a.team. Always giving, always striving to be at their best.
  • Grateful for our amazing talent who continuously push the creative envelope.
  • Grateful for our long lasting client relationships and for the opportunity to help grow their teams.
  • Grateful for our furry 4-legged friends who keep us company at work.
  • Grateful for the opportunity to write the 400th issue of our weekly a.blog today.

Below are additional gratitudes from our a. team:

Laura
  • Grateful for my family and their health, support and love.
  • Grateful to work for a company I love.
  • Grateful that I get to spend every day with my husband.

Stephanie

Grateful that I live in Los Angeles. I'm grateful for my health, home, and to have worked with a great company for 10 years.

Margaret

Thankful for my family and friends, my wonderful husband and my "a" recruiting team who comes ready to work every day and is so dedicated.

Jen

  • Grateful for a supportive and passionate team that pushes me to my full potential every day.
  • Grateful for the ability to work from home.
  • Grateful for my husband who caters to my every pregnancy craving and mood swing.

Regina

I'm so grateful for my job! I am so happy every day.

Ana

I am grateful for my family that supports each other through thick and thin, for my long time friends that are like extended family, for my employers that provide an environment to live a balanced life and for my excellent health!

Cammy
  • I am thankful for the privilege of becoming a new aunt to my amazing nephew.
  • Also my family, everyone's health, and good food!

Jamie

  • Working with a dynamic and committed team on a daily basis for over 20 years.
  • The opportunity to learn something new every day.
  • Simplicity in life and communication.

Katty

  • Grateful for the amazing a. team.
  • Grateful for family, friends, health and love.
  • Grateful to learn and grow every day.

What are you thankful for this holiday season?

 

 




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.

 


One-Two-One Onboarding

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Best Practices for onboarding new hires and making them feel welcome

How to Make the Most of Brainstorming Sessions

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Collaboration is key for creative teams. Here ere are a few tips to maximize your productivity in group brainstorming sessions:
  • Define a goal before the meeting. Send out an agenda in advance to let team members mull over the purpose of the session so they have time to come in with a few good ideas.
  • Set ground rules. If all ideas are good or you’re going for a “blue sky” atmosphere, let everyone know that so they feel confident to share. Whatever your ground rules are, state them at the top so everyone understands, and feel free to chime in if the rules are being broken. 
  • Encourage openness. Sometimes, brainstorming sessions fail because team members feel pressured to conform to certain ideas on the spot. Set a tone of non-judgement and invite all ideas to be voiced in a comfortable setting.
  • Don’t discuss or problem solve ideas. Set this as one your ground rules. Problem solving will hamper the creative free flow of ideas and eat away at the timelines. Capture all concepts first and then explore further.
  • Assign a facilitator or scribe. This person can capture all the ideas on the board. They will be facilitating and not part of the brainstorming itself and can ensures all team voices are heard equally. They can helps the group on track, take notes, assign follow up and next steps.
  • Set timetables. Give everyone thirty seconds and go around the table and capture one word ideas or one phrase ideas. Go around the room as often as possible to capture as many ideas as possible within your set time parameters.
  • Get creative. If your group needs help to get started, play improv games, doodle, stand and walk while pitching, or create mood boards to help the team get out of their heads. Encourage everyone to offer their own ways of busting out of a creative rut, and apply it to the group dynamic.
  • Don’t decide on the spot. Plan for reflection time for the team to think and react to the ideas they heard, then ask them to share their top choices. If scheduling a second meeting is not possible, then take a 10 minute-break. Allow the team to stretch their legs, get some fresh air and reflect, and then come back together to discuss decision and executing on the chosen ideas.
What are some of your tips for making the most out of a brainstorming session?

Artisan Creative is celebrating our 20th year staffing and recruiting Creative, Digital and Marketing roles. Please visit Roles We Place for a complete listing of our expertise.

Click here if you are looking to hire. Click here if you are looking for work.

For information on hiring best practices, interview tips and industry news, please join our social networks on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

How to Create a Strong Workplace Culture

Wednesday, May 25, 2016
company-culture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Build a Creative Team

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

What’s the secret to building a great creative team? It’s a combination of professional skills, creativity, diverse personalities, strong communication skills, collaboration, and a good leader.

When bringing together a creative team, start by with expertise and core competency. You’ll want a team that has:

  • A big picture strategic thinker who asks “why” questions and looks beyond the short term

  • A tactical person who can execute the “why” into a “here’s how” plan, complete with deadlines, resources, and budget requirements

  • A person who can communicate the message and connect your big idea to your audience

  • A person to keep everyone else accountable, and keep the project on track

  • A copywriter or content manager, who can distill ideas into their essence and put it into impactful words for your audience

  • Someone who to present your ideas visually through compelling design and imagery

  • A leader who can manage and motivate the team to accomplish the company’s long-term goals

These additional questions are key to building a successfully aligned and productive creative team:

  • Does your team have the technical skills and expertise?

  • Do you have the flexibility to staff up or down?

  • Is your team productive and efficient?

  • Are they passionate and creative?

  • Are targeted deadlines and goals clearly defined?

  • Is team leadership clearly communicating objectives to inspire greatness?

If you’re looking to build to add to your creative team on a short-term or long term basis, Artisan Creative is here.  Let us know how we can help.

Is Your Body Language Affecting Your Presentation?

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

You’ve prepared your presentation, gone over the your meeting notes, and are excited about the idea. You assume you’ve been clear, effective, and informative, yet you walk out of the meeting unsure of how it went. What happened?

Were you possibly paying too much attention to the presentation instead of your audience?

Being aware of how your audience reacts, whether it’s a short meeting or a face-to-face pitch with a client, is important in determining how your material is being received. It also helps you improve your communication skills and make needed adjustments to make the presentation work better. Here are a few tips on how to watch your body language as well as theirs:

  • Make eye contact. It shows you’re actively paying attention to them.

  • If your audience is leaning forward, they’re interested. Keep up what you’re doing.

  • However, if they are leaning their head on their hand it could indicate boredom!Switch up the pace or ask a question to engage them again.

  • Use vocal variety to re-engage your audience.

  • Use humor if appropriate!

  • Don’t slouch--stand strong to project confidence.

  • Use the stage, however be cognizant of erratic movements or other restless behavior.  These gestures can be distracting and come off as unassured.

  • Keep your arms open instead of crossing them, since it could come off as defensive.

  • Above all, be sincere--audiences can easily spot this.

  • And be passionate about your subject--after all you are the expert here!

  • Watch your audience and adjust when needed.

By watching the nonverbal communication happening, you can hone in on what you can do to improve the next time and understand what information to give best.

To  improve your presentation skills further, sign up for a local Toastmaters meeting.

What are your body language tips to watch for in your next meeting?


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