Over the past six years, I’ve transitioned from a newbie print designer at a small studio to a web designer at said studio to a web designer at a large corporate company. I’ve done the freelance jobs on the side, fitting in sketches and building sites in between work and family time. Over those years, there have been varying levels of projects, management, goals, successes and failures. One thing as I look both to the past and future, is that I’ve found certain things to be true. While I am endeavoring on the adventure of starting this studio, these truths will hopefully resonate in the lives of others, as they look at their current working situations.
Whether you are a manager or low level employee, be kind. That is be kind in every aspect of your job. I have found that a lot environments value an unhealthy competition that creates goals that go against one another. This is a very unhealthy way to get your employees to grow the business. Seth Godin recently wrote a post about results in which he describes the focus of nearly all businesses. Results are valued so much more than the people who are working towards those results. When the values of the company are locked in on results, kindness takes a back seat.
There is no place at work for backhanded compliments. Even when you think that you are lifting someone up by joking around with them, if it has the slightest hint of negativity, it defeats the purpose building each other up. Give genuine compliments. Treat each other with respect. When critiquing a coworker’s work or giving a mid year performance review, start with the good. Find the positive impact that person has made on the company and praise them, unabashedly. Make that the focus of the review. When taking the time to correct behavior, make the outcome a positive. Seek to build each other up with kind and respectful words, finding the good in everyone you encounter.
For the most part, we are locked into working. A part of that is either going into an office or participating in work culture. At Neighbor, we are working towards a virtual wall of ideas. Not just ideas but ideas that are actionable by anyone on the team. If you have an idea and people on the team see that it could be turned into something, we act. We are allowed to dream about it and play around with the idea, creating something we can build together. This idea comes straight from IDEO, where they have created physical spaces for people to gather and work together on ideas. It is encouraged that people insert delight into the day with fun ideas.
Titles have their functions. They create a needed structure for people to look to when questions are asked and provide leadership for teams. While they hold their functions, titles are just that, titles. We all know that we are expected day in and day out to do more work than our “titles” say we do. This is a norm in almost all workplaces, however, it creates frustration, lack of dedication to the responsibilities of your job and it creates a dynamic where others can be credited for the extra hard work you put into those projects. At Neighbor, our titles are fun and creative so that we leave the door open for everyone to play a role in the success of our projects, the growth of the company and overall sense of progress. Companies hire people because of how good they are. Why do they immediately put restrictions on how good they can be? When titles start to be used as ways to assert power or control over projects, growth and innovation become stagnant. Give your employees the opportunities to contribute to the success of the company.
As I continue to grow Neighbor, I aim to build a culture that allows everyone to play a part in what we are doing. I want Neighbor to surpass what I intend it to be and allow it to become the sum of the whole group. I’d love to talk with more of you about how Neighbor can help. Let’s chat.