trade tales | Oct 27, 2023 |
How do you foster growth among your staff?

Finding good employees is one challenge; keeping good employees is an entirely different one. We asked five designers—Laetitia Laurent, Monika Nessbach, Brain Paquette, Chanae Richards and Anne Hulcher Tollett—how they foster growth in order to retain their staff.

Brian Paquette
Brian PaquetteCourtesy of Brian Paquette

Stay inspired
“I have historically been a very hands-off boss. I am, at my core, an introvert. I explain to anyone thinking of working with me that they too need to be independent. I crave space and connection within more than from others. This is juxtaposed by the need, as a creative, to bounce things off [other people] and take in all that they have to offer. I am a sharer, so I am constantly sharing books, projects from other designers or ideas that inspire. In terms of growth in design, I encourage anyone who works with me to speak up and challenge my status quo to ensure we are delivering the best product to our clients … their voice is just as important as mine.” —Brian Paquette, Brian Paquette Interiors, Seattle

Anne Hulcher Tollett
Anne Hulcher TollettCourtesy of Anne Hulcher Tollett

Take care of your own
“Years ago I changed our company’s name from Anne Tollett Interiors to Hanover Avenue. I wanted the team to feel like they were building something with me rather than for me. Though I am still the principal and creative director, I wanted to make sure our designers felt like they were working toward a career as a team and not just a pit stop job on the way to something else. We joke that almost everyone who comes to work at Hanover Avenue either falls in love, gets engaged or has babies! It’s the craziest thing, but I think it’s because we strive to retain our work/life balance. I want the team to leave and go home so they can recharge. I want them to take vacations and see the world, because that makes them better creatives and teammates. We even program our office’s lights to go off at 5:20 to encourage everyone to go home. When the lights go off in the middle of an end-of-day meeting, we joke, ‘Oops, last call! The bar is closing!’ I also hired a studio manager who understands that one of her roles is making sure to get treats for everyone’s birthday so we can sing and celebrate their next orbit around the sun. We all stop what we are doing, sing and take a break to hang out and eat together! Another one of our studio manager’s duties to make sure dinner is sent to anyone who is home sick. We all really look after each other. We are such a tight crew, and I want to ensure we keep a happy and creative culture.” —Anne Tollett, Hanover Avenue, Richmond, Virginia

Laetitia Laurent
Laetitia LaurentCourtesy of Laetitia Laurent

Bigger and better
“It may sound dramatic, but I truly believe that the moment you stop growing, you start dying. There is no such thing as stagnant, especially for us creatives. So it’s essential to foster a culture of growth. Growth comes in many shapes and forms, and means different things to different people. Some team members value position growth and compensation increases; some value free time to develop their creative skills; and others favor working on bigger, better projects where their best talents can be unleashed. As the principal, it is my job to fuel all those avenues. And if you run a profitable firm, you can provide all of those. You work on bigger projects that break new creative frontiers; you can share the profit with your team and advance their roles; and you can afford them time off to recharge. We incorporate that mindset in our day-to-day by organizing market and local field trips to discover new collections, and we discuss trends as a team and what we would like to incorporate in our projects so that everyone feels heard.” —Laetitia Laurent, Laure Nell Interiors, Boca Raton, Florida; and Paris

Chanae Richards
Chanae RichardsCourtesy of Chanae Richards

Empower your team
“How well our firm performs greatly depends on the individual and collective efforts of our team. As such, fostering the many talents of those we bring on board is incredibly important. We do so by hiring rock stars and empowering them to do great things. They are encouraged to be the best versions of themselves and make decisions our clients will benefit from. Our longest-running team members stay because of that.” —Chanae Richards, Oloro Interiors, Philadelphia

Monika Nessbach
Monika NessbachCourtesy of Monika Nessbach

Keep learning
“We believe in cultivating a creative squad by encouraging autonomy. We foster growth and continuous learning through collaboration and encouraging [people to] stay on top of the latest trends while teaching the importance and history of classic design styles. We’re all about empowering our team, celebrating their unique talents and creating a fun workspace. To retain talent, and because we are a small company, we are able to offer flexible schedules, hybrid-remote and [perks] such as pajama days, bring your dog to work, 25 PTO days from the start, informal coaching and other fun benefits.” —Monika Nessbach, Designbar, Charlotte

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