Over the past 20 years, I’ve worked at several companies, each with its own culture. Some encouraged and valued innovation and creativity; others feared straying too far from the familiar. These companies might have said, “Be creative!” but what they really meant was “I want something a little different from what we have now but still kind of the same.” I jumped at the chance to return to Envoy for many reasons, and one of those was the opportunity to work in a truly creative environment with talented and skilled people.
While most people expect an ad agency to have an air of creativity, more and more large organizations are seeking ways in which they can make their company cultures more creative. Companies like Google and Facebook have set the pace for innovative workplace culture, and corporations are realizing that the world’s top talent isn’t going to settle for the standard 8-to-5 job where they have to wear business casual clothes every day and stay chained to their desks. Today’s best and brightest want unconventional options at work, and the way to attract them is to meet those wants and needs within reason.
Top companies are doing just that. Today, we see inspired workspaces with large windows for natural light, cozy seating areas for group collaboration, and inviting kitchen areas. We see more companies offering flexible work hours to accommodate various lifestyles. And, companies have recently started awarding employees extra or unlimited vacation time and parental leave.
But there’s even more to building a creative, innovative culture. Do your employees feel they can come to you and speak honestly and directly? Or, are they worried about phrasing their opinions “just so” in order to avoid upsetting the apple cart? If your managers believe they have to be the smartest people in the room, then your employees will never speak up with new ideas for fear of putting themselves in the path of a jealous superior. The best managers aren’t afraid to hire smart employees; rather, they welcome the skills and ideas those employees bring, without feeling intimidated. Think of it as being smart enough to hire people smarter than you.
When managers hire the best talent, they undoubtedly build diverse teams. Each team member has his/her own strengths, and one person’s strengths counterbalance another’s weaknesses. If you’re a manager looking to hire replicas of yourself, then who’s counterbalancing the areas where you or another team member falls short?
Too many cooks spoil the broth — this is evident in many large corporations where every executive feels they must have a say in every project — but small groups are often more effective than an individual. Build a team where everyone has a specialty and unique perspective; when your team pulls together to complete a project, the result will likely be better than if you had hired one person to do it all.
It’s easy to find employees who will just do whatever you tell them to and never veer off the beaten path. But are those really the employees you want on your team? They are also the employees who won’t speak up with new ideas and processes, and they won’t actively contribute to your company’s growth. If you’re interested in making your company more successful, stop micromanaging employees. Give them some freedom. Grant them autonomy to make decisions, and inspire them to become accountable and take responsibility. When you treat people like adults, they behave like adults — and your job as a manager will be more constructive and seem less like babysitting.
Last, but certainly not least, remember to have some fun at the office. Envoy has always worked to make the office a place where employees look forward to coming every day. Whether it’s a well-deserved happy hour after a week of long hours and hot deadlines, office pranks (I’m talking to you, Brandon), or allowing employees to bring their pets to work with them, Envoyers are encouraged to have some fun, too.
Envoy’s creative culture keeps our employees satisfied with their jobs and makes them want to return even after they’ve left. What are some ways you have fostered a culture of creativity and innovation in your company?