Organizational culture affects internal communication and employees creativity.
Words by Le Thao Ly, s3372954
Many agencies have a big concern for client relationship management issue to ensure their long-term contracts with clients. However, fostering internal communication is also important to keep different teams united in a whole organization. There is a stereotype that creative team people tend to be laid-back and moody since they appreciate the inspiration in their work. Meanwhile, Account team crews are more realistic as they are in charge of monetary and customer relationship management. It is more or less creating conflict between two teams. Therefore, both creative driven side and account driven side have to work harmoniously to strengthen the whole company’s work productivity.
In this article, I will have a focus how relationship between Account Team and Creative team is conducted in a creative agency’s working culture and how that culture motivates employees’ creativity using organizational culture rituals and symbols.
Through the introduction of one friend, I have had chance to get acquaintance with Ms. Pham Chieu, who is currently project manager in Sofresh, a digital creative agency in Saigon. Before applying for Sofresh, Ms. Chieu used to be in charge of Account Team in Moore Corporation and take proactive role in digital manager of Neo Communications. Aside from experience in working for agencies, she has been dedicated her enthusiasm as a content builder, stylist and freelance journalist for some publications in Saigon such as HCMC Life digital magazine and East & West Traveler Magazine. “Having been exposed to different working environment is my desire when working in communication industry and Sofresh has given me a new perspective of an open-minded working culture within local scenario”, she expresses.
Sofresh is a digital creative agency founded in 2007 having concentrated on giving smart and innovative solutions to gain good impression from clients. “ The word “sofresh” implies all the employees as trendsetter and updater connecting in a unity to fresh up clients mind with their fun and fresh ideas”, Chieu shares her perspective with an exciting tone of voice.
Unlike other agencies, Sofresh does not conduct a whole Account team. Instead, the team is divided into pairs including one project manager and one project manager associate per pair to take responsibility for a project. This challenges the perspective “Bigger is better” (Hackman 2011). Smaller team will reduce the annoying moments caused by unexpected conflicts in big team.The task of creative team is to respectively work with each project team to create a whole concept for a project. The aim of this framework is to prioritize creativity during the plan-making process.
By having access to the agency’s working process, Sofresh is classified as task culture in which teams are working with each other to achieve better results than an individual can do (Handy 1976). The culture is about warm and friendly working environment in which colleagues are free to communicate and interact with each other in terms of task exchange without much influence of hierarchy. On the other hands, it is expensive since it requires people to spend much time talking to each other (Handy 1976). Thus, having employees connected together and inspired to generate their best ideas is one possible way to thrive the operation of a creative-driven agency like Sofresh.
We are listening to our clients to give them what they need
This perspective may challenge the opinion stated by Solomon (2008) “before you give clients what they need, first give them what they want”. “We appreciate creativity and innovation in our planning, so both project manager team and creative team are responsible to convince clients to approve our ideas”, Chieu emphasized.
However, there are some tough clients who insist on using their ideas and giving direction to the agency. “We then will execute on their way, but we also pitch them our concepts as backup plan” Chieu said. “Our teams have been working together to make sure the ideas are clear and realistic .“
Way to drive creativity: speaking and listening
“Debate is essential for generating creativity” Chieu said with strong voice. “but too much debates at the same time will create battlefield, so we always have generators, analyzers and conformists in every meeting. That is the way to create harmony between teams and to get the final shoot”.
As Spektor, Erez and Naveh (2012) pointed out that “Conformists, though they may be useless at generating breakthrough ideas, dramatically increase a team’s radical innovations”. Chieu somehow agrees with this. “Conformists in the upside meaning are thoughtful listeners. After listening to tons of idea, they are the ones making votes for their preferred idea”
The issue of organizational culture motivating creativity among employees is one important aspect. Employees are motivated when they can express their personality and identification even in working environment (Inc 1996). In reality, Chieu excitingly provides some tips that she has chance to experience in Sofresh.
Don’t wear mask, act yourself.
“The ideas and concepts are flavored and spiced by the sense of our own life. The music we like, the trend we fancy are all transferred to the connection with the brand images in its best suit” Chieu said in an inspiring and moody voice.
In Sofresh, employees are casual clothes fanciers. They feel free to go to the office with just Tee-shirts, jeans and flip flops. Simple but stylish is their favorite slogan. Every working day is a fun experience with full of experiment. “Only a fresh mind generates fresh ideas”, Chieu concludes.
In a nutshell, each organizational culture has different ways to maintain and strengthen internal relationship among teams as well as motivate creativity among employees. In my own preference, an ideal working environment is in which people have chance to exchange tasks to understand each other more and to get new experience .
Proof of Life (Reproduced by Ly 2013)
Chieu P 2013, Interview, 25th August.
Handy, C 1976, “Understanding Organizations”, Oxford University Press, UK.
Hackman, J R 2011, “Six common misperceptions about teamwork”, Harvard Business Review, viewed 5th September 2013, < http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/06/six_common_misperceptions_abou.html>
Inc 1996, “7 Unusual way to motivate your employees”, viewed 5th September 2013, < http://www.inc.com/ss/7-unusual-ways-motivate-employees#6>.
Solomon, R, “The Art of Client service”, Kaplan Publishing, New York, US.
Spektor, E M, Erez, M and Naveh E 2012, “To drive creativity, add some conformity”, Harvard Business Review, viewed 5th September 2013, < http://hbr.org/2012/03/to-drive-creativity-add-some-conformity/ar/1>.