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Design Leadership by Richard Banfield

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Chapter 2. Talent

Introduction

In the early stages of a design company, finding the right talent to grow your team can seem like a distant problem. Particularly as you start out as a small group of founding members, seeking and developing talent on a regular basis simply isn’t at the top of your mind. But for larger teams and established studios, it is something that needs to be addressed almost daily. As the company grows, even the most loyal team members move on and need replacing. Our design leaders are constantly having to ask how they will find and keep the best people.

The reasons people leave design firms vary. Some may leave due to a change in personal circumstances like getting married, having children, health concerns, or moving to a different state or country. Professional reasons for leaving a company are often characterized by the desire to move up or out. “Up” refers to ambition, whereas “out” is more likely due to dissatisfaction with the company or the leadership.

In our conversations, we learned that a significant reason people left teams was bad working relationships. What’s noticeable is that these failing relationships were almost always with their managers—so it is not the company they are leaving but the manager relationship. The chemistry between team members and leaders seems to be the most often quoted reason for frustration. It may take a long time for these frustrations to result in an employee leaving, but once it reaches that point it is very difficult ...

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