Peter Kang

Peter Kang

One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is seeing the creative output of our team and the care with which people approach their work on a daily basis. As someone who is lucky enough to lead such a team, I try my best to contribute in my own small way. 

I'd like to cover two activities that have helped me in my capacity as a creative leader:

1. Having regular, meaningful one-on-one conversations with team members.
2. Proactively sharing thoughts and resources with the team.

One-on-One Conversations
Conversations accomplish a number of very important things for me:

  • They help me understand the type of work that a team member finds most engaging and also surfaces the person's strengths.
  • They lead to honest conversations about things that might frustrate or obstruct the person from being engaged or productive.
  • They help us look ahead and talk about career plans and professional growth.

These conversations, in the aggregate, help me think about ways to improve processes, address pain points, and better position people for success based on their strengths. I also find that I get really great feedback on my own performance as a supervisor. I've experimented quite a bit with the format of our conversations and continue to make tweaks. I've found that in order to get the most value out of the conversations, I need to consistently keep these behaviors in mind:

  • Come prepared with relevant, specific questions.
  • Be a listener first.
  • Take detailed notes.
  • Follow up immediately on actionable items.

Proactive Sharing
Our company, like most design-driven ones, have incredibly highly skilled people who are constantly processing new information and adding to their arsenal of techniques and problem-solving capabilities. The challenge for us is to make this collective knowledge more accessible.

Over the years, we've built internal tools and processes to make sharing easier, but I believe that more is required than the presence of these channels. My approach has been to encourage and model the behavior of knowledge share by doing it myself on a regular basis. Whenever I come across an interesting link or book, I am quick to write it down and then to share it with team along with a few sentences on why I think the material is worth a read. I believe that because of my position, this simple act done over and over again signals to my team that it is okay, and actually highly encouraged, for them to share. When I observe others behaving in this way, I am thrilled because I know that when we share with each other, everyone gets a little bit smarter.

Legendary management guru Peter Drucker wrote that "effectiveness is a habit, a complex of practices". He goes on to say that practices are deceptively simple: they are easy to understand but very hard to do well. For me, one-on-one conversations and proactive sharing are two practices that have been and will continue to be a big part of my development as a creative leader.

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