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Professional Practice Hack: If It’s Really Important, Do it Yourself



I used to be in the school of thought, largely through industry programming from others, that you need to give employees the benefit of the doubt. That is, let them succeed but also, let them fail. Social Media is pushing this concept a lot. However, who assumes the risk if your employee fails? You do, not them. And so this might be a noble pursuit, but when it really matters, don’t give them the ability to hurt your company. You should never let the failure or “less than” performance of an employee, affect the status of your company or your work. In the world of design, if you can do it better, then do it better.

I used to give people a lot of responsibility on all things creative: architectural design, graphic layouts, website design, photography, and videography. But at the end of the day, I was noticing a pattern; it was taking a long time to get something to a point where it was even passable. I burned an absolutely insane amount of money giving people the opportunity to learn on the job. And I get it, I’ve had to learn a bit on some of our projects but I gave that “learning curve money” back to the client in various ways, and I never messed anything up. Employees (or subcontractors) aren’t going to give you any of their money back or cut you any deals if they are learning on the job, and they aren’t going to atone for their mistakes or pay for the corrective measures that might be required.

So if you can do it better, then do it. But know your strengths. I’m a top level creative and given a little time, I can produce something amazing, every single time. However, I’m not a next level manager. Or a next level coordinator. Those are roles that need to be delegated so that I have time to do what I do best. Decisions like these, where you recognize strengths and weaknesses, and build companies are true talent are what can make a company truly great. Those are the objective decisions that need to be the keystone of a company’s priorities so that the caliber of your designs are optimized.

This is part of our Stewardship Series where we give insight into our industry for aspiring professionals and business owners alike.

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