Understanding Team Dynamics

Wednesday, July 26th, 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.

A Freelancer’s Guide to Expert Client Communication

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017|

 

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20 years in staffing and recruitment and over the years we have 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 4th, 2017|

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20 years in staffing and recruitment and over the years we have 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.

How to Invest in Your Team

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016|

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20 years in staffing and recruitment and over the years we have learned a thing or two that we’d like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 403rd issue of our weekly a.blog.

 

In the 20+ years of meeting and interviewing talent, we’ve learned that a primary reason people are looking for a career change is often growth opportunity—and growth opportunity does not necessarily mean salary increase.

We hear from talent willing to make a financial lateral move when there is an opportunity for advancement, additional responsibility, learning, and overall personal and career development.

Here are 3 tips to help nurture your existing talent so they are more likely to stay and grow as your organization grows.

Continued Education

Continued education classes are a win-win for both employer and employee. Courses from Lynda.com or General Assembly foster new skills and improve work performance, while giving employees an opportunity to learn and grow. Consider flex time to attend classes or subsidizing a course cost.

Develop Careers From Within

Ongoing training, frequent touch points and an extended on-boarding program helps to start your employees on the right track, and when done regularly, will keep them motivated and better engaged over time.

Encourage opportunities to spearhead a task team, lead a project or mentor a new employee.

Invest in leadership training, management courses and mentorship opportunities with senior level talent.

Encourage lateral movement so employees can formally apply to new positions within the organization.

Invest in Your Employees’ Well-being

Large companies have the luxury of access to features and benefits that small to midsize firms dream of.

If your company is an entrepreneurial boutique firm like Artisan Creative, you will have to be more creative here. Some examples of non-work related investments are subsidizing gym memberships or a wellness program, paying for and rallying around a passionate cause your team believes in, journaling or vision boarding classes.

Another option is to host Lunch & Learn quarterly in the office where you can bring in a subject matter expert on a variety of topics such as Nutrition, Health or even Mindfulness.

At Artisan we wanted to learn how to play to our team member’s strengths and brought in a Strengths Finder facilitator for the day. Not only was this great for personal development and growth, it was also a powerful team bonding and communication experience.

We also offer our an annual stipend to our internal a.team to be used for heath and wellness or personal development. Our team has taken advantage of this stipend for fitness or art classes, Toastmasters, second language courses and personal interest seminars. We also hold an annual vision boarding session to share and focus on non-work related goals and aspirations.

If done right and with purpose, engaged employees have a higher retention rate than those who stare out the window wondering what else is out there and eventually leave for an opportunity to grow personally and professionally elsewhere.

What tools or tips can you share to increase employee engagement and retention?

Three Ways Recruitment Agencies Support In-House HR Teams

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016|

At Artisan Creative we believe in creating relationships based on trust. Our role is simple:

  • Support and complement internal HR and recruitment teams
  • Find the most qualified candidates in the shortest amount of time
  • Act as an extension of your team

This is how we partner:

Experience

Our 20+ years in the creative & digital marketplace has built deep relationships across the industry. Connectedness and enduring working relationships set our search protocols apart.

We have dedicated recruiters assigned to a specific search, and leverage our connections for referrals. We review hundreds of resumes and portfolios to select the best for you. By implementing targeted search plans, we save internal teams hours upon hours of reviewing profiles that may not be right.

We’ll take care of screening & qualifications. We’ll ask the tough interview questions, check references and conduct background checks — giving you the bandwidth to manage the most valuable resource on your team: the human resource.

Focus

We know how to efficiently handle multiple requisitions across multiple teams and skill sets. The strength we add is our laser-sharp focus on one thing—finding the best candidate for the best company.

Cost

Initially this may seem counter-intuitive, however there is a bigger cost for missing a deadline, losing a client, or a potential burnout of your existing team. The strength we bring to our clients’ internal hiring teams is to find qualified, vetted candidates –whether it’s for a quick freelance assignment or a full time hire. We recognize human capital is the most valuable resource of any company.

We’d love to find out more about your needs and share our screening process in detail.

Have the a. team build your dream team! Let’s connect.

The Competitor in Us All

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016|

The Olympics bring out the best in everyone— from pride, to perseverance to passion for the competition.   Those stories about athletes who overcome personal and professional obstacles to make it to the games inspire many.

Time and time again, as these athletes compete, win or lose, they get back in the game, proving that a defeat is just that—a momentary loss.  Of course, it’s painful to lose, however, the one constant is getting up, dusting off and trying again.

We are all competitors—whether we recognize this or not.  We pitch to the same clients, we apply to the same job boards, we compete for the same RFPs, and we look for the same talent skill set.

How can we best adhere to the same competitive principals, as we tackle goals and challenges that arise in our daily lives or work? 

Here are 5 lessons we’ve learned from the Olympics:

  1.   Even though you compete in the same arena & in the same game, the mindset you bring is yours and only yours.
  2. You enter the track with many other competitors— the preparation you do beforehand is yours and yours alone.
  3. You may experience a defeat, or miss a target by .003 seconds— your reaction, acceptance and perseverance to come back the next time is your decision.
  4. You may fall down — the decision to get up is yours
  5. You may work long hours to pursue your goals, train hard, have a coach, have an accountability partner— how you apply the lessons learned and improve your game is up to you.

 What do you do to stay in the game and create a winning mindset?

How to Create a Strong Workplace Culture

Wednesday, May 25th, 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 27th, 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.

How to Let Go of Fear

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015|


 

Why does it become hard to let go of some things? 

Fromthe “Don’t do that!”, to “Watch out!” and the “No”s, that were fed tous on a daily basis as children; to what is pushed at usvia numerous information outlets, fear often becomes deeply ingrainedwithin our survival instinct. An instinct that is always on to save usfrom ourselves, is what makes it hard to let go.

Over the years wetend to hold on to a collection of “fears” that accumulate over ourlifetime. It’s only when we let go of these “fears”, that we moveforward and actually do the things we enjoy the most out of life. So thechoice comes down to holding on to what’s keeping us back, or findingthe courage to get uncomfortable and let go. 

I recently had lunchwith a cousin who’d just gone skydiving, even though she was afraid ofheights. Once they were at 12,000 feet,  she wasn’t going to go downwithout a fight, as she defiantly stood her ground. Finally, herinstructor took control and out they went. As she screamed (first infear and then in joy) all the way down, she realized that she has losther fear of heights and with a big smile across her face they glideddown with tranquility, their chute spread wide open.  

Since Ioften drive down to see her, and now that she was fearless, I asked whenshe would next come up to see me and she answered: “We’ll I’m a littlebit afraid of driving around on your LA freeways!”  

How do you let go of what’s holding you back?

Jamie is the founder of Life Work Integration,a process that integrates passion with purpose and vision. You canreach him at jamie@lifeworkintegration.com & via Twitter @jdouraghy


When Bad Habits Creep Back In

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015|

bad-habits

How many times have you started a new project orcommitted to an important change in your life, only to fall backon things you were going to “stop doing”, overwhelming those good habitsyou were developing?

Our brains are sometimes justlike that garage above. We simultaneously store a lot of valuableinformation and junk that we will someday want to use. When we feelstuck, or have too much on our minds, we commit to clearing that garageout. And we’ve all been to many a garage sale in our lives!

Tochange any habit it takes a minimum of 90 days. At the 45-day mark,we are halfway to where the opportunity for real change is just startingto take hold. At the same time, this is when many of us feel thattransition is just not going to happen, so we slowly let our oldroad/mental blocks creep back in again.

Here are a few things to work on to become aware of what I call ” the slide back 45″.

Keepa brief journal. Then take a look back to see where you’ve come from,what progress you’ve made, and look forward to where your commitmentsstill lie.

When the slide back starts to take over, recognize it and squash it!

If need be, go back to the basics and start over.

Some basics:

Decide on what you’re going to stop doing before you start doing anything new.

Find an accountability partner other than yourself.

Develop a flexible blueprint, then commit to a plan and live by it.

Take small steps first, then build momentum.

Be patient with yourself.

Know that you have to want to do this, even more than you need to do it.

Celebrateyour successes along the way. Use these moments to raise the platformfor your next move, one that will be up and away from where you used tobe.

Keep in mind that on average it takes about 90 days for goodhabits to take hold, (after all, you’ve spent several years building upthe bad habits in the first place!)

 What pointers to stop bad habits from creeping back in can you share?

 Jamieis the founder of Life Work Integration, a process that integratespassion with purpose and vision. You can reach him atjamie@lifeworkintegration.com & via Twitter @jdouraghy