- 35 years in interactive entertainment starting and operating successful publisher/development companies and corporate divisions
- Professor at University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts and Simon Fraser University on The Business and Management of Interactive Entertainment
- Founder/CEO/GM of EA Partners, Three-Sixty Pacific and Accolade Entertainment
- Game of the Year awards for Journey, Battlefield 1942 and Battlefield 2
- All 7 Best Practices
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A company's success rises or falls on the aptitudes, but also very much on the attitudes of its people.
Companies with fearful, confused or aimless workers – no matter how talented – are destined to fail. Maybe not immediately, as momentum and customer acceptance can make up for much internal strife, but over time it surely will matter. Companies with team members who are excited, informed and working together have every chance to excel and exceed expectations.
This is especially true in the hyper-creative world of digital and interactive media. It is a fast-paced, around-the-clock world in which leaders and team members must share a vision and work in harmony. They have little time, or patience, for dealing with internal conflict. So leaders must be prepared to create and maintain an open environment that minimizes stress and maximizes opportunities for achievement.
One path is to know and understand how staff dynamics works in a creative environment. Then, you can create and model a company culture that nurtures creativity and engenders respect among team members as well as between leadership and employees. Leaders who are new to their leadership roles, or more experienced leaders who sense that productivity and harmony are suffering, can benefit from simple – but not always easy – changes in behaviors and expectations.
Prime candidates to benefit from a better understanding of staff dynamics include:
- Startups who want to be sure they hit the ground running
- Emerging enterprises that have seen a recent deceleration in growth
- Second-tier companies seeing a need to tune up their processes and products to get to the next level
The first rule of a harmonious workplace: Develop a clear company mission and vision in conjunction with your board and senior management team, then articulate that message to all within the company. This ensures that everyone is pulling together and in the same direction. Likewise, everyone in the company needs to understand that selfishness is counterproductive. Hence the motto: Company first, team second, me third. Those who work to better the team and meet company goals will find success and be rewarded. A selfish approach sows discord and weakens opportunities for all. Ultimately, if this attitude is prevalent, the company fails on many fronts.
It starts with the leadership: Make personal connections with staff members. Let them know that they, and their work, are valued and respected. Behave in a way that engenders respect for you. A key step is to create an environment that is safe for self-expression – that allows all team members to speak up with their ideas and suggestions for improvement.
Building such an open culture can be molded by leadership that shares information on how the company is doing. This includes both the good and bad in company progress and performance. Even a bad report – properly presented, in a personal way – can be motivational. It lets employees know, clearly and often, that they are trusted and respected. And it shows the way forward so that staff members can continue to share a vision of what’s needed.
The best medicine for a company struggling to get started, or to move to the next level, often lies within the working relationships in the company. This can be doubly true in such creative fields as interactive digital media. Properly applying a knowledge of staff personality dynamics to your staff and to your own behavior, can help turn moribund performance into maximum performance.