Staffing a Creative Team
08/10/14
Establishing a strong corporate culture, attracting top talent and maintaining a solid reputation as an 'employer of choice' are important considerations for any business owner or manager. We asked RGD firm owners and design managers to share insights on building their creative teams and creating a desirable work environment. 
 
Contributors
Patryk Adamczyk RGD, Lead Visual Designer, Mozilla
Scott Christie RGD, Creative Director, ClarkHuot
Vince Galante RGD, Principal, The Pixel Shop
Tina Mackenzie RGD, Manager of Creative Services, City of Mississauga
Laura Piche RGD, Manager, Global Marketing, J.S. Redpath Ltd
Mark Roberts RGD, VP Design, Davis
 
How do you maintain a positive employer reputation? 
 
"If you want a great reputation, be a great employer. Set high standards for how you treat your team and never waver from those standards." Vince Galante RGD 
 

"We believe that our people are our brand and our best advocates. Positive relationships with staff pay off exponentially in maintaining a positive employer brand." Mark Roberts RGD

 
Where do you find the best candidates for job openings? 
 

"The strongest designers on the team have been referrals from my own network or from other employees. When we need non-permanent employees for specific tasks or projects, I often evaluate their design capabilities on websites like Behance or Dribbble as a first step." Patryk Adamczyk RGD 

 

"Industry-specific websites for job postings have been a very effective method for promoting design job opportunities. Word of mouth with design colleagues is another route." Tina Mackenzie RGD 

 

"Our website, LinkedIn and word of mouth are the most effective channels for promoting job openings. Speaking at industry events, judging design competitions, having our staff support local schools either by being on their boards, teaching or simply mentoring - all of these are 'organic' ways of keeping our name out there. We are always looking. We hire when we find someone great." Mark Roberts RGD

 

"Professional industry organizations, like RGD, Chambers of Commerce and word-of-mouth referrals have been great sources for hires." Laura Piche RGD

 

How do you build employee loyalty within your organization?

 

"It’s not all about the pay check. Little things go a long way toward earning employee loyalty and grooming proud company ambassadors. Stay mindful of the entire 24 hour day; underscore to yourself and others there’s life outside the office." Laura Piche RGD

 

"Employee retention begins by hiring the right person from the start. If you don't share the same values with your employees, they won't stay, no matter how well you pay. We start by doing our best to provide good opportunities for growth and expression, fair wages, respectful work hours and a positive and collaborative work environment; we hire people who find that mix attractive." Vince Galante RGD

 

"Our work and our culture is based on our core values of excellence, integrity and respect. Treating our staff well and providing them with challenging work on excellent brands makes us a sought-after employer." Mark Roberts RGD 

 

"Knowing they work with me, not for me, encourages respect from both sides. We also maintain a strong focus on education, paying for courses and lectures and hosting peer lunch and learn sessions. We invite employees to client presentations so they can observe and learn." Scott Christie RGD 

 

How do you communicate feedback to members of your team? 

 

"We make an effort to check in often, both formally and informally. It's important to seek out employees' personal insights on the industry and how their future goals fit. If there is an opportunity to help, we take it. When providing critique, we focus on the educational element: tell them why something works or does not. Every interaction is a chance to teach the next business leader." Scott Christie RGD

 

"We hold formal professional development meetings at regular intervals, usually over a nice lunch, and discuss how both parties are feeling about how things are going. This is a 360 evaluation where we speak about how the person can grow. We also utilize frequent informal feedback; in the moment is the best way to capitalize on good behaviour and enhance performance. When this is done as part of our day-to-day interactions, the formal meetings are always a pleasure, and usually make for a very nice lunch!" Mark Roberts RGD

 

What is the most important consideration for establishing and maintaining a positive work environment?

 

"The most successful designers in a team environment are not only technically skilled but create social bonds with others, leading to people wanting to work with them again." Patryk Adamczyk RGD

 

"Relationships are at the heart of our employer reputation. In fact they are the heart of everything we do. Interactions with employees, clients or  consumers, are all significantly better because they are in the context of ongoing relationships." Mark Roberts RGD 

 

 
RGDs interested in submitting an 'Insights' article can download the 'Guidelines for Contributing Content' PDF and email