What is a craft team?
Craft teams were created to provide our employees a space to meet with other individuals in their particular craft or profession. A craft team is made up of a collection of individuals with similar skillsets or jobs who share in the mission of becoming masters of their craft. These groups strive to meet on a regular basis to share what they’re doing, learning, and improving upon, so as to make sure everyone on the team is continually growing. For us, the ultimate purpose of the craft team is to keep everyone’s skillsets sharp and to encourage personal and professional development.
We often emphasize that the overarching goal of our company is to create the best possible products for our clients. In order to contribute to that goal, the individuals that make up our product teams need to be constantly improving upon their skillsets and educating themselves further in their field. This is especially true for companies that create digital products - due to the ever-evolving nature of the tech industry. With craft teams, peer practitioners are encouraging one another to stay relevant by implementing new methods and tools in their execution of projects. Though our crafts people aren’t actually executing projects together, they’re spending time learning together.
Why you need product teams and craft teams.
We’re confident that our product teams are incredibly effective in achieving the outcome of creating high-quality products quickly and effectively. Although, one of the risks of adopting the product teams model is isolating workers on a team where they’re the only person in their craft. The consequence of this is the “island effect” - where members who are isolated on a small, cross-disciplinary team begin to lose perspective or question their level of competence due to the lack of visibility of what others in their field are doing. To alleviate this issue, we’ve implemented the use of craft teams in addition to product teams. Here’s why.
We’ve found that the two different types of teams work complementary to one another to create a supportive and productive environment for workers to thrive. Having both product teams and craft teams yields the best results for company culture and productivity. Allowing people an opportunity to step out of their day-to-day groups in order to refresh their perspective is they key to making product teams successful. At the end of the day, it’s about providing multiple ways for our people to interact and collaborate with one another, so that they feel fulfilled and their work continues to be outstanding.
Product team: Groups people from a diverse range of professions to accomplish projects together as quickly and effectively as possible.
Craft team: Groups people in similar professions to promote personal & professional development within their expertise.
To have the best work environment for your company you really need both.
How to help craft teams grow.
At first, it can be difficult to know how to facilitate productive meetings. The tendency within craft teams can be to simply meet up and talk about whatever comes up. With just a little direction or structure, the time spent together can be significantly more beneficial for impactful growth and development. The good news is there’s several different ways to engage your craft teams and inspire them to push themselves to grow further. Check out this list of things that will help you do just that.
- Schedule Craft Chats: On a regular basis (we think once every two weeks is perfect), have all of the people within a craft team meet up to share “war stories” - or what they’ve learned from mistakes, victories and challenges on the job. In order to keep meetings productive, it might be a good idea to decide in advance who’s going to lead the discussion and what topics to discuss.
- Foster professional development that fits each person: Encourage the people within your craft teams to seek out forms of professional development that best fit their personal learning style. The truth is, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Some may learn best from conferences, while others may prefer self-guided tutorials. Leadership can foster effectual growth by asking individuals how they learn best, and then supporting them in whatever that learning style may be.
- Plan a book study: A book study is a great way to engage the entire team on a single relevant topic. It also gives craft teams a chance to learn more about the other team members and their thoughts or opinions on a certain subject. Here’s a list of books to get you started book club ideas for personal and professional development.
- Set up a Slack channel: Get your craft teams together in a chat space so they can stay in touch on a daily basis. Slack channels are great for sharing tools, articles, events, etc. Creating a slack channel also creates an open space to ask questions quickly and easily. Socializing through Slack further empowers remote or introverted workers to jump in on the conversation.