When Chris and I started 2930 Creative in 2012, we both wanted to create an agency that valued creative talent and employees willing to learn. We faced (and still face) the normal struggles of a small business: growth, paying business and payroll taxes, getting new business, and hiring the right people. We’ve made mistakes along the way, but we have also been fortunate enough to grow in a stable economy these past few years. We brought on an immensely talented team of creative and hardworking individuals. A team that, as it grows, becomes more diverse.
The world is changing. It doesn’t matter which side of the aisle you stand on to see that. We are heading for uncertain times, both on a global stage and at home. It’s not hard to imagine that things will be very different in the coming years than it was in the early years of this business. Chris and I will have to adapt as business owners while everyone at 2930 Creative will have to adapt as a team.
So how do you lead a group of caring, sensitive, intelligent, brave, creative people into this new world? I’m not quite sure. This is all new to me as it is to every other boss out there. However, I do have confidence in the culture that has developed in my agency this past year. I believe this culture, while always evolving, will help support, nurture, and encourage my team as we navigate these waters.
As a leader, it’s important that my team understands that I am on their side. That I represent their best interests and the good of the company above my own. Chris and I have worked very hard to be the kind of leaders we wished we had in other positions. Part of being a leader is setting the tone and expectations for the company culture.
Here are some ways that we support our creative team.
Allow Team to Speak Freely
Many people feel scared or upset heading into the next few years. These feelings don’t go away just because people come to work. 2930 Creative uses chat tool Slack to allow open channels to not only talk about work, but pop culture, politics, and things that are important to team members. Team members can not only send files and continue work communications, but can also feel like they are being heard on any number of channels built for non-work conversation.
Listen to Them
It’s not just letting them talk, but it’s also listening. By letting our team know that they can come talk to me, Chris, or any of their coworkers, we create a culture that is open and caring. Our team is more like a family for this reason. Sometimes, it’s not about providing feedback, but just letting someone know that you care about their feelings and what’s going on in their life.
Don’t Call Them Employees
Legally, yes they are employees. But tax filings and legal documents are the only places you’ll see them labeled as such at 2930 Creative. Everyone who works here is part of a team, and everyone is referred to as a team member in both internal and client-facing meetings.
Give Them Space
In our office we have a Sega Genesis with games we remember from our childhood. We have large bean bag chairs. We also have a ChromeCast and frequently stream cooking shows or Bob Ross. When team members have down time, lunch, or just need a break, they can frequently be found in this area. Some even prefer to work in this area. By allowing our team to have a space to decompress and take a moment to be themselves, they actually return to work quicker and more energized than when we didn’t have this space.
Get Involved with Causes They Believe In
Giving back has been a very important part of 2930 Creative’s culture since Day 1. We love supporting causes that are important to our team and our community. We are always open to input from our team about ways to get involved, organizations to volunteer with, and things that we can do as a company to help support our local community.
Leading a team of creatives can be hard, especially when passions run high. Creatives can sometimes be more sensitive to events happening around them. Creating a space that allows them to be themselves and talk it out can not only foster more creativity (and therefore, better work product), but also improve the overall culture of the agency.
Things aren’t going to stay the same as we keep moving forward. Our culture will have to adapt to adjust to new situations and new realities in the world, just like any other company culture. We will continue to place our team first and try our best to maintain a positive culture.