As if recruiting new design talent wasn’t challenging enough, then begins the onboarding process. How you convey the mission, process and culture of your design firm can be the difference between problems and productivity for a new hire. Interior designers Michael Abrams, Todd Davis, Laurie Demetrio and Eric Ross explain how they set new team members up for success.
Set Expectations Early
“We begin our onboarding process before the prospective employee is even hired, with a clear and thorough job description that attracts someone that will want the job they’ll be doing. From there, a trusted HR specialist that understands our firm’s culture and design processes conducts interviews and personality tests. She selects three people that seem to embody our company’s ethos for us to interview.
On day one, we like the new hire to work on an installation with the entire team. Because we install most projects in one day (three for a whole home), it’s a lot of work, and we are very hands-on. There is no hierarchy on days like this—just a shared eagerness to get the job done. We can tell after that first install if they are going to be a good fit, and they immediately know our level of expectation.” —Eric Ross is a Nashville-based interior designer and the author of Enduring Southern Homes, which debuts in March.
Communicate Your Values
“Typically, in the process of onboarding a new designer, we first verbally communicate our firm’s high level of commitment to well-thought-out designs and business principles. This has proven to pay off, since we have been in business for 25 years and enjoy a highly respected reputation. Our approach is generally on the fly to see how we all operate. For instance, a typical client communication will receive at least two eyes’ review to ensure accuracy and thoroughness. We encourage asking questions and never assuming—asking is always better than making a mistake. Employees need to feel comfortable in the work environment if they are to be productive.” —Todd Davis is the co-founder of Brown Davis Interiors, which has offices in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Miami.
Create an Immersive Experience
“While the business side of our day-to-day has structure thanks to Studio Designer, the creative side is best taught on the fly. Before bringing a new team member on, I like to start with a day of shadowing to review projects in progress. Traveling to project sites and frequently visited showrooms helps convey what we do on a daily basis. With a well-curated design library and online database that efficiently organizes our preferred vendors and drives our aesthetic, we ensure the new designer is immersed in day-to-day activities. We strive to build company trust in team effort: Everyone’s opinion matters throughout the design process.” –Laurie Demetrio is the founder and principal designer at Laurie Demetrio Interiors in Chicago.
“When a new hire joins our team, the most important thing on the first day is, ‘Where are we all going for lunch?’ It’s my way of quickly immersing the newbie into our family, and our staff loves welcoming new people. Shadowing a seasoned team member is the best way for a new designer to absorb our company culture. When it comes to process, I am always looking to learn how others do what they do well; therefore, encouraging the exchange of ideas, resources and best practices is a way I grow from a new hire, as they learn from me.” —Michael Abrams is the founder and lead designer at Chicago-based firm Michael Abrams Interiors.