My team-building philosophy is like my philosophy of life: Celebrate multiculturalism. Embrace diversity. Band together for the greater good.
This story comes in two parts.
In 2000 I was hired as a Senior Creative Director at Agency.com (since renamed designory), an interactive agency with offices all around the globe.
My role was to build the creative department at one of the company’s New York offices—in seven weeks.
With only a few employees and freelancers on my team to start, I achieved the nearly impossible. I hired 28 highly qualified individuals (using creative recruiting tools such as sign-up bonuses and other incentives).
Once the people were in place, I organized off-site teambuilding activities to shape the group dynamic, build trust, and ultimately establish a cohesive, collaborative, productive, and effective creative team.
In 2007, I was hired as Creative Director for Penn State Outreach and Online Education, inheriting a team of about 30 people who had developed a “do what you are told and don’t ask many questions” attitude toward their work.
Designers seemed to have neither ownership nor creative control. Their work suffered. Their self-esteem suffered. They did not look forward to the next day or the next challenge. The same was true for writers and coders.
I decided to tackle this issue by valuing my team members’ opinions and encouraging them to defend their work and decisions. With conviction but without conflict. Focusing on time-tested principles they knew well. Leveraging the talent that put them on the team in the first place.
Concurrently, I visited most of our clients, inviting them to think more critically about the deliverables they asked us to create. Telling them to expect more from themselves and from the creative team.
My goal was to create a culture of collaboration, a meaningful and results-oriented partnership based on respecting each other’s expertise and needs.
The road was bumpy, but the destination made the journey worthwhile.
Today, our clients are thrilled with the quality of our work—and we are winning awards.