Twenty years ago, school career advice didn’t even list design as a possible occupation. The design industry has grown up a lot since then and is now at the heart of the creative industries which, in turn, are now the second largest industry in the UK after finance.
It’s fair to say that jobs within the design industry are hugely competitive, once you have found the talent ideal for your business; it’s all about maintaining a good relationship with your designers and ensuring they are happy within the workplace.
With the changing economic climate some design agencies have been margining, whilst others are rebranding and many resizing. Even if it’s as simple as an office move, this shows that changes within the workplace are inevitable and can happy at any time.
At its heart, managing designers in times of change is about helping them to make a transition with the company and making them feel reassured that the change is the right one. To do that, they need to be able to express themselves, they need to see you are calm and in control, and they need to feel fully informed.
Encourage your design team to ask questions
At any time of change in a workplace, people get frustrated. They fear for themselves or their colleagues. They may not understand why changes are taking place, and they can feel threatened by that. So the first and most important thing you need to do is listen.
Think of this as a bit like going to therapy. We often feel better if we can express our concerns, ask questions, articulate our emotions and state our opinions on the matter, especially if we feel like we are being heard.
Simply encouraging your team to express these with you will alleviate much of the bad feeling that can come with any change. Showing them you are listening and taking on board what they say will make them feel like you think their concerns are valid and that you value them as members of the team. Actively listening to opinions can go from being scared of the change to feeling they are contributing to the transition.
Asking and listening to your design team will make the feelings they have about change much more positive and productive, so they will have an easier time accepting changes.
Be patient, and try not to get defensive
Change is challenging because it is external: change is something that happens to us. But our acceptance of change has to come from inside us, and that can take much longer than the external change. You must keep this in mind during any period of change.
Moreover, it could take some of your design team much longer to process any changes than it will others, so stay patient. Understand and expect that though some people can adjust easily, others will find it harder, and build that expectation into any support you offer. Just stay steady and calm, and soon everyone will be on board.
Additionally, you must try not to get defensive, even when emotions are high. Your design team will be looking to you or your organisation’s leaders for guidance and reassurance. If you become defensive, you will ramp up existing tensions, which won’t help people ease into the transitions their workplace will be going through. In fact, it might lead to more tensions if people think you are defensive because you have something to hide.
Whatever you do, you must try to be calm and patient throughout the time of change.
Stay visible and keep them informed
It might be really tempting to disappear into your office or the meeting room when so many changes are taking place. After all, you will have a lot to do to make the changes happen. But your design team need to see you. They need to be able to stop you, rather than interrupt you, to bring certain issues, concerns or emotions to you.
They need to see that you are calm and in control, because the visual cue of you walking calmly will suggest to them that everything is fine. If you are not visibly around, your co-workers and employees will think you are withholding information, and that will only stoke rumours and insecurities.
Staying visible is the physical manifestation of transparency, and to be truly transparent, you have to provide as much information as you can to everyone. If people are kept in the loop, they will feel less worried and uncertain. Your team will be much more likely to accept changes if they feel fully informed about the situation your company is in and the changes it needs to make. They will understand reasons behind the decisions that were made, which will make it even easier to accept them.
Change happens constantly in all businesses, in good times and bad. Still, you need to keep in mind that in any time of change, people need reassurance. When you let everyone express themselves, when you stay patient and open to their feelings, and when you stay visible and keep people informed, you reassure everyone.
Since finding the right designer for your business can be tough, they ultimately become the foundation of your branding campaigns and company. It’s important to hold on to them through thick and thin, when they are reassured and have a voice the results can be over whelming.