Somewhere along the line we decided that there needed to be a shift in the way people interacted in this industry (and others). From previous jobs we had worked to seeing our peers operate in their careers we came to the conclusion that a lot of naturally occurring interactions (agency/client, director/designer, employee/employee) seemed to have this facade of realism. Everyone in these engagements is operating behind a wall of pretence. Agencies are trying to appear bigger than they really are, clients are scared to voice opinions, designers/developers are often trying to feel knowledgeable in front of their peers or in presentations to clients.
It became clear after experiencing this in meetings, critiques, presentations and project discussions that these ways that we carry ourselves are actually getting in the way. While it is important to maintain a professional orientation in the workplace, we started to find that as we once we focused on being ourselves (however cliche that sounds), the easier these types of interactions became.
It is a wonderful thing to let someone in to know the real ‘you’. It is the only way to have real, genuine interactions. It helps others also let their guard down and places everyone on a the same, very human, playing field. This is where the magic happens! This is where we can speak casually about a project and discover things that may not have entered the conversation if we were stuck in the old ways of conversing.
There are a few things that we like to get out of the way when meeting with a client for the first time:
- There is no traditional sales talk that will affect our discussion with clients.
- If we see an opportunity for improvement (while it may cost money) it is not an up-sell.
- We want to feel free to speak our mind in these situations to provide an accurate assessment of the project from our perspective
- We don’t know everything. We reserve the right to say “I don’t know.” and so do you.
- If we pretended to know something we didn’t we would be doing you a disservice. We would rather suggest that we can look into it if the project permits.
- We aim to build an environment where criticism is always constructively given from both parties and interactions between both parties are honest and genuine.
Internally we feel that there are ways to navigate situations that also lead to better results
- We treat each other with dignity and respect
- We acknowledge the experience and talents of others and soak up what we can despite title or position.
- All opinions are valid, yet not all advice must be taken.
- We are all working toward an incredible end product and we recognize it takes different skillsets to execute different things.
We realize we operate in an industry that is saturated with subjectivity. We aim to be honest with our clients and each other and hope that as people come to know us through genuine interactions they will understand that all our intentions are with them in mind. This shift in thinking has turned clients into friends, opened up doors for collaboration and brought in new work. It is a sustainable way of operating and it only leads to great things.