madebygraham.com

Creating Company Culture

Every job posting you’ve seen talks about a company culture that you’d love to be a part of, but very few people have ever found the long-term realities of said job to match up with the posting. You’ve seen the listings for hiring “superstars” and employing the best of the best; however, from many perspectives these companies treat these acquisitions as property or trading cards and not as their most valuable assets to the company.

My goal for this post is not to discredit anyone else but to give examples of our culture at Ordered List and share the impacts that it has had on myself and our crew. As the latest hire at OL, many of the day to day methods were culture shock to me; but as we’ve grown as a team they’ve created an environment that has birthed not only some amazing apps but a better environment to teach and be taught in.

Schedule & Workload.
I’ve worked in many different scheduled environments, and often times there are valuable purposes for being in the office between 8:00 and 5:00. But for a designer / developer, these can be dangerous parameters. Some of my best designs come not only later in the evening but sitting at a coffee shop or local pub working with the music jamming and a Java Stout half empty. We’ve also had the benefit of having enough projects in front of us without too many to overwhelm us. Saying no to a client about project or a deadline (if you’re able to) can create the flexibility and availability to make another project ‘that much better’. Having several projects to work on helps; we’ve all hit a wall on a design or development project, and the ability to put it down, walk away, read a book, or even jump into another client project helps the overall process.

Interrupt only yourself.
Employers: if you have a team that is well-motivated to create amazing things, you usually won’t have a problem with them getting things done unless you’re the one getting in the way. Too often a single interpretation of the top priority gets in the way of an effective work flow. We have a team environment that invites lots of collaboration; however, when its time to get things done we usually all go to our corners and knock out some amazing things. When you have someone checking in and managing projects too often, nothing gets done. As a designer, if I have to be thinking about thirteen things at the same time, the one thing your working on in the moment becomes a more difficult task.

Its not business, its personal.
We often hear that it’s not personal, it’s just business. However, when you are creating a culture for the people, everything is personal. You want your employees to take ownership in the product/service, but without ownership in the process/design/code, it will not happen. If you treat the product with more importance than your people, then you’ve created a culture that will always feel secondary to it.

Enjoy your team
It’s important that as you are working together as a team, you are able to see things differently; it’s even more important that you are able to keep relationship with those people as you do. If you have a team that always says yes to your ideas, it might be time to find another team. I’ve never worked with a team that I’ve enjoyed more than my crew at Ordered List, however they often challenge my views and thoughts on things that I design and it has only made my skills and those around me better.

Company culture is not always yours to create, but you do have the ability to choose how you will relate in whatever culture you’re in. Choose wisely.

Tweet to @michigangraham