What a company says about their culture could be far removed from the actual day-to-day work environment. Mediacurrent partner Dave Terry shared in a 10-year retrospective blog post that he wants "Mediacurrent to be a positive, supportive, collaborative environment that helps you grow and develop professionally.” He elaborates further, stating that “empowerment, transparency, empathy, open communication, and ongoing feedback should always be in our DNA.” As a new Project Manager at Mediacurrent, I wanted to provide a dose of reality and share some examples of Mediacurrent's culture in action, as I experienced it in my first weeks with the company.
If you are considering a job at Mediacurrent or partnering with Mediacurrent on one of our many services, I hope this helps you get a better sense of whether Mediacurrent would be a fit for you or your organization.
Time for training
In my first week at Mediacurrent, I was inundated with what everybody fondly referred to as a “firehose of information.” The amount of knowledge shared with me was invigorating and frankly a bit overwhelming.
Over the course of my week at the corporate headquarters, the business partners and staff from each department reviewed vital information about how they apply their expertise at Mediacurrent. I was given the time to review current practices and also upcoming strategic opportunities.
This company presentation by Dave Terry on his visit to Zappos speaks to the importance given to employee culture here, as well as providing time for training even when a company is rapidly growing.
Supportive and collaborative
From the start an open and supportive culture was apparent. Everybody was friendly, asking me questions about my background and encouraging me to reach out at any time with questions. I've taken folks up on those early offers many times since then, and each time I’ve been greeted with an open virtual door.
In the weeks after my training, I've witnessed the same upbeat collaboration in company Slack channels, email, and meetings. People offer and ask for help, and apply a lively dose of humor and lightness to communications.
At least once a week, positive words from a client or manager will be shared in the general Slack channel about a project team or co-worker, and seemingly everybody piles on with nice comments and more than a few inside jokes. In a nod to technological efficiency, many of the inside jokes can be summoned at any time by a Slack command. For example—yay—I’m quite sure I will now never forget that the Cubs won the World Series, thanks to Ryan Gibson’s video evidence of the win’s impact at his house, available as an animated gif at any moment.
The decision to hire for people that have a positive and supportive disposition is apparent. Dave Terry writes “no talented jerks,” in his thoughts on Mediacurrent’s evolving culture. In Slack channels, one of the Directors of Development has echoed that sentiment in more than one conversation.
Having prior experience at a worker-owned cooperative where everything was an open book, I was curious how transparent things would be here. I have been pleased and impressed by the level of transparency at Mediacurrent.
Materials that were reviewed with me the first week are available in Google Drive or Confluence, and I can freely browse documents from previous projects at any time. Information is shared in real time about potential client projects and internal company initiatives. For example, a recent change in health insurance providers included many discussions with employees in Slack to solicit input and keep everybody updated throughout the process.
Transparency has recently been expanded to sharing more financial details with the entire company. From the start, I was shown overall profitability numbers, and now everyone is also presented with information about specific categories of expenses. Illuminating contextual information about these figures is also provided.
Empowerment and personal growth
In weekly project forecasting meetings, I've seen decisions made to ensure employees balance their time between billable work for clients and sharpening their own saws. Considerations about project assignments included employees existing skills and also whether a project would help them “level up”. That is, would it be a good opportunity for them to grow their knowledge and leadership skills.
I’ve also been the beneficiary of knowledge share presentations at the weekly company meeting. Some of those are the results of an employee taking advantage of the annual continuing education budget that each person receives.
Focused on strategy
Strategic thinking and going beyond straightforward expectations comes up frequently in training materials and day-to-day conversations. This way of thinking starts with Mediacurrent's focus on knowing the company's "Why" to being sure to ask "why”.
Training videos, weekly knowledge shares, and procedural documentation reinforce the importance of thinking beyond the immediate work being requested by a client. Instead, a priority is placed on strategically determining what would provide the most value for a client. Discussions in Slack and meetings have echoed the concepts presented in this orientation video on working with clients as well as this overview of the Client Services Team.
I have observed the same analytical and strategic rigor being applied to the key goals that each department has, as well as other internal organization plans and procedures.
Culture in action
It's clear from my first weeks here that "culture" is more than just a word at Mediacurrent. Already, I have felt empowered to try some new approaches in how I manage my projects.
I felt supported when I decided to invite a member of the Digital Strategy team to a feature prioritization meeting with a client when they weren't originally scheduled to attend. We collaborated on how we could guide the customer to both achieve and measure whether organizational goals were met. The strategist was able to offer data-driven advice on the client’s next priorities.
As a Project Manager, I’m eager to reinforce and amplify this collaborative culture for clients, team members, and Mediacurrent.
Just Ask: Promoting A Culture of Asking Questions | Blog
From Concept to Creation: Mediacurrent's Results-Driven Methodology | Video
Empathetic Project Management | Blog