Ok, so we all know how important it is to have the right people on your team but how often do we take a step back and objectively categorize what makes them "right"? How often do you take stock of those shared traits among a team and ask how do they improve the culture and ultimately, the collective workplace experience. In a world of increasing automation and insular workflow processes, it has become very easy to overlook the most important part of any company, the team and the culture it fosters.
Over the past few years our little company has grown into a slightly larger little company and with its growth has come new faces and new personalities. As some of the first through the door we regularly find that our roles in the system are constantly evolving, expanding into territory well beyond the skill sets that we call our profession. For me, one of these roles has proven a particular challenge, hiring. Hiring and vetting new members of the team is as critical to success as any other aspect of the business. I have been guilty of myopically basing the decision solely upon a candidate’s ability to meet the job description, overlooking how that person would fit into our culture and embrace our philosophy. Needless to say these hires didn't last very long. So, beyond someone's ability to get their job done what other, less finitely definable attributes should be taken into account?
Smarter minds than mine have lead me to believe that you must ask yourself who you are, what influences your office culture and do those behaviors align with your philosophy. In our case we live by the phrase, "We don't take ourselves nearly as seriously as we take our work." Whether we like it or not, we spend most of our waking hours in the workplace. With this in mind we have attempted to make our workplace one that fosters creativity and individualism. We figure if we are going to be here, we might as well enjoy ourselves. It is critical that each personality not only mesh well with the collective whole but aid in encouraging others. Great ideas can, and often do come from anywhere. If an environment doesn’t work to embrace and nourish this mentality good ideas are much harder to come by.
So the question becomes: how does one objectively analyze the positive aggregate traits of a team? Or even more importantly, analyze which of those traits creates and fosters the collective culture? I am asking these questions making a very large assumption that you, like me, are a member of an amazing team and a culture that breeds inspiration. If yours does, awesome. If it doesn’t, shouldn't it? I do realize that our industry differs from the norm in that we do spend a great deal of time thinking about our office culture but it is no more or less important in any industry and ours didn’t grow overnight or completely organically. To improve your culture you have to first recognize that you have one. Good or bad, a workplace culture will grow with or without proactive positive influences. What’s at risk is a negative culture left unacknowledged or unmaintained. We have found that an encouraging culture starts from the top and needs constant nurturing. For us the results have proven to be one of our strongest assets. Come on over, we’ll pour you a pint and prove it.
I will close this posting by thanking everyone on our team for so clearly sharing our vision, improving our culture, continually flattering us with your loyalty and making it possible for me to genuinely say, “I love what I do.” Thank you.
About the Author: Ryerson
Ryerson has been working in art and graphic design for over fifteen years, starting his career at the ripe old age of 16 at a respected publication design firm in the northeast. He quickly realized an interest in design and worked on numerous books for clients such as David R. Godine, Shambhala Publications, and McGraw Hill.
A steadily increasing passion for design took Ryerson to Syracuse University where he earned a B.F.A. in the school’s Communications Design program. Upon graduating he began his post-graduate career at an advertising agency in northern New Jersey where he worked on projects for numerous clients such as Thomasville, Kincaid, Stanley, Basset, La-Z-Boy and more.
Ryerson was then hired as the creative force behind the luxury lifestyle magazine, Suburban Classic, a young magazine that achieved a great deal of critical acclaim for its art direction and design. At Suburban Classic, Ryerson worked with established photographers such as Christopher Kolk, Steve Turner and Mac Hartshorn as well as high profile designers including Tommy Hilfiger.
Ryerson currently heads up the creative department at The DSM Group, takes a great deal of pride in his well-cultivated Pandora channels and at the beginning of 2012 was named partner.