You know how when you put away the holiday decorations, take down the lights and start playing garage Tetris to make the bins, buckets and boxes fit just so, you immediately feel the need to purge, reorganize and start fresh?
(Or maybe that’s just us? Always possible…)
Anyhow: So as many of us (ahem, perhaps just this blog writer) were organizing, purging and taking copious loads of superfluous stuff to a local charitable organization earlier this month, we got to thinking: This is a super-nice metaphor for agency life, too.
The new year invites new beginnings. In that spirit, we set out to rearrange our cluttery garage, so to speak. Over the last year we’ve grown a ton: new faces, new equipment, new clients, new processes. So we recently took some time to come together, reaffirm our values and set our sights on loftier goals. (’Cuz we like things fresh yo.)
Why Are We Telling You This?
We believe sharing is caring. Is it time for you to apply some Garage Tetris tactics to your organization? Getting organized and recommitting yourself with your team ensures you’re reaching for the same agreed-upon goals. Here’s how we did it:
Renew Your Vows, er, Values
Values are what bring people together. It’s the glue that allows you to direct ever more resources toward common goals. It keeps people focused and committed. And when you’re surrounded by creative, spontaneous people, it’s important to focus their boundless energy.
Set a date for the whole team, get together (serve food) and ask them:
- What do we stand for?
- Who are we?
- What do we want to become?
This isn’t just some large group meeting where one person talks. Think of it more like a workshop or retreat, where the team can come together, relax and enjoy getting to know each other on a deeper level. Once fed (seriously, we’re not kidding about this part), your meeting organizers should take a moment to tell everyone else why they personally do what they do, and ask them the same. Identify someone to take notes during this brainstorming session, and you’ll likely begin to see from the list generated that some common thoughts, ideas, goals and philosophies rise to the top.
These are your shared values. And ultimately, identifying these will empower your team to reach your loftiest goals.
Process, Process, Process
With values clearly articulated, you’ll be able to shift focus from the “what” to the “how.” Keeping large groups working efficiently is all about defining how each service gets done. Write down the steps, make a flowchart (yay office supplies!) and ask if this process makes sense. You’ll discover a lot about how to improve your systems by asking those who use them if they’re working or not — they are the boots-on-the-ground, after all. Give them the space to freely express themselves, and you might be surprised by their suggestions, which can have a big impact on productivity.
Plus, if everyone feels heard, no one will feel left out or on a ledge. Look at you, putting the “team” back in “teamwork.”
With your guiding philosophies established and your processes in place, implement your new magic. Then, over time, analyze what happens by examining metrics (productivity, billable hours, time spent on jobs, etc.) as well as less tangible assessments (How do team interactions feel? How comfortably does your team resolve conflict? And so on…).
Chances are, your professional “garage” will feel organized and sparkly. At least until next holiday season, when it’s time to pull those bins down, do some rearranging and donating and start a whole new game of Tetris.