An Intriguing Leadership Path

Business Solutions

While up at the cottage, I bumped into a team member of Intrigue Media, a local marketing firm, who was on maternity leave and was enjoying a beautiful day with her new baby and husband. She shared how much she was enjoying motherhood, and was also missing her team at Intrigue. Like every Intrigue team member I’ve met, when speaking of their workplace they smile and have great things to say.

As a team dynamics consultant, I wanted to understand their secret sauce that creates an amazing culture that inspires employees and provides incredible client services. So, I had coffee with Paul Demarco, one of the owners, to find out how they did it.

Here are 7 ingredients for their secret sauce:

  1. “Our Values Are What We Are”. When Intrigue Media was created they stated their company values. Then in self-reflection recognized that those values didn’t fit their culture and shifted them to “what we are”. This is congruency at work – they act consistent with their stated values.
  2. Hire for Culture. At Intrigue, they use the expression “dance before you kiss” – simply put, this means to get to know someone before offering them a position. Their hiring process includes a group event with all staff and candidates for all positions to a group session. During this time they inform candidates of their company culture and have an interactive session. In this way, both candidates and the team at Intrigue can ensure a good culture fit.
  3. Goal Setting for Growth. Each team member sets goals every 90 days that are reviewed by the owners and feedback is given. One of the differences is that these goals (both short and long-term) include personal and professional goals. In true Intrigue style, they’ve given permission to share their blog with more details – in order to empower community leaders (one of their core values).
  4. Feedback is Given Right Away. When struggles come up in the team, it’s a norm that individuals talk with each other in a timely fashion. When they do go to management about another person on the team, it’s to be coached on how to best present the concern so that the communication is effective in building community. Then a conversation happens and people grow.
  5. Feedback is Reciprocal. When the owners meet with each team member every 90 days they offer and request open and honest feedback. This two-way process builds community and respect while ensuring that everyone is held accountable to the values of the organization.
  6. Challenge and Encourage the Team. When people approach the leaders for help, the key question is “What do you think we should do?” By asking this question, they have found that the team member takes responsibility by offering possible solutions to discuss, so they coach to build capacity and critical thinking.
  7. Ongoing Leadership Learning Opportunities. Every week, each person on the team reads a chapter of a business or leadership book and reflects upon it. Of course, it is offered in multiple formats to best fit their team members’ reading preference – paper books, ebooks, or audio books.

Bonus (because that’s how Intrigue rolls):

Add Value to People’s Lives. The owners consider what role they can play in their team’s goals, both personal and professional. For example, upon reviewing the goals recently, they facilitated a scuba diving course because a number of people had indicated they wished to become certified.

If you want highly skilled and committed people who are great team members, how might you choose one of these ideas to incorporate into your current culture? How might you build even more capacity and trust in your team?

Thanks Paul for your sharing and the role your company plays in our wonderful community!

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