The Most Creative Team PART 2
Part 1 introduced us to half of this creative team and their working approach. Now let's learn about defining the team seniority and new colleagues' experiences.
To view PART 1 of this article, click here.
If you read the first part of this blog, you got acquainted with the first half of the team, their answers to some of the questions, tips for new designers, they introduced you to our way of working, why they are at Cinnamon, what the projects are like, and much more. The other part of the team was also looking forward to being mentioned in the blog because they are also eager to share with you their point of view and thoughts about design, team hierarchy, their goals at Cinnamon, how Cinnamon differs from other agencies, and a lot of other interesting topics!
The team you will meet further are really people who contribute to Cinnamon through incredible work and effort. Not only looking at their experience and knowledge, but so many positive people who are eager to share their knowledge with other designers, who are willing to help colleagues whenever needed – these are people who are very caring and empathetic, and who appreciate teamwork.
What makes us different and who guides us
Presenting ourselves as one of the larger design teams in this field, a lot of people become curious about how we as a team present ourselves to others, and how we differ from all the other agencies. Sometimes people think that the number itself says if the team is healthy or not, but what our team lead Mislav will tell you, what he thinks actually separates us from the others is:
“I'd have to say growth. And I don't mean it in a way of growing our team size or the number of projects under our belt. Instead, growth for us symbolizes the never-ending process of learning and improving oneself - both as a designer and as a person. By helping an individual grow, we raise the team to a new level and, therefore, the whole agency as such.”
How our designer Krešo thinks about this topic if he shares the same thoughts as Mislav, we can see below:
“One of the things that most pleasantly surprised me about Cinnamon is just how open other designers are to collaboration. You never feel alone on a project and everyone is always willing and ready to help you out. I love that the entire design team seems at least partially invested in other projects besides their own. And besides just unofficial, friendly collaboration, each project has its official support designer and each designer has their mentor. From what I've gathered this isn't a very common practice but is super useful. It's a big relief that there is a well-defined support structure for designers on each project. Cinnamon also has a good number of designers in all positions of seniority, like juniors, mids, and seniors."
As a team, we are growing very fast, and it is important that every person in the team gets attention from their team leader; it is important for us to have good leadership with each other and to have someone who will fight for us. What is it like to be a designer and a team leader at the same time, and whether a good designer is also a good team lead, our Team Lead Iva will tell us.
“Not all great designers are necessarily great team leaders. I would say that some of the qualities of a great team leader overlap with the qualities of a great designer. For example, excellent soft and organizational skills make a great team lead. A great designer can successfully get by while being average in those aspects. Furthermore, some of the best designers I know are introverts, so this role is more challenging for them, and for that reason, many of them do not even aspire to become team leaders. Based on my experience as a half-time team lead and half-time designer, I consider both fields quite challenging, and there is room for me to grow in both directions. However, I still find it hard to imagine being a full-time team lead and not indulging my creative side through design.”
Design Team Hierarchy
In order for each of us designers to do our job well, it is important for our superiors to know which seniority level each designer is, in the team. Keeping in mind that Juniors get projects according to their experience and that Seniors get different projects due to their experience - leads us to satisfied clients and great results. There is always an opportunity for the designer to learn and develop their skills by solving their tasks. Also, this creates a hierarchy, but how much it is expressed among designers, and how strict this is, Igor will tell us more:
“The Cinnamon design team is very well organized. Everyone knows exactly what their job is, where to look for answers and who to ask if any problem occurs. Although there is a clearly defined seniority in the design department we work and function as a team. We all ask each other questions and we all help one another. And that is how great work and results are achieved. Everyone has a certain expertise, everyone is good at something and if someone lacks any part of the process, he/she can freely ask anyone, from the design team lead to a fresh out of school junior designer. Without any hesitation. So I would say that Cinnamon has a well-defined hierarchy but is not that strict. We are an organized and well-developed team, ready to ask and help, and that is what makes us so good at what we do!”
Friendships or just colleagues?
All of us as designers are aware that some know more than us and some less, we are aware of how many of us there are and how much we can learn from each other. We are also aware of how great we all are and how, as a very large team, we get along well with each other.
Are we tired of work after eight hours, or can we still have a drink with someone and hang out, make friends, or are we all just colleagues, our designer Mia will tell us more:
“Being part of the Belgrade team that’s geographically separated from most of my colleagues from Zagreb, making friends can be a bit tricky, especially since we all depend on video calls only. Luckily, there have been two (successful) team buildings so far where we all had a chance to meet in person and become friends. So I would definitely say that I consider some of my colleagues also my friends, and I’m looking forward to expanding that circle!”
As a designer at Cinnamon (who is writing this super cool blog), I also want to share my opinion on the topic that Mia wrote about, so let's see what Marina has to say about this:
“In every agency I have worked in before, I have tried to approach all colleagues in a friendly but professional way. I can honestly say, so far only at Cinnamon I haven’t had to make any special effort to make good relationships with colleagues, and I haven’t had to act out anything that I am not. All colleagues within the design team are so relaxed, natural, always in a good mood, friendly, and positive. It is never stupid to ask anyone for a drink after work - because of that, I created a much closer and much more friendly relationship with a lot of people within the design team and other departments.”
New designers in the team
How some designers went through that "worst" part of adapting to a team, navigating through people, remembering names, and how long it took them to adapt to a design team, our Maja P will tell us first-hand:
“When I joined Cinnamon, there were a lot fewer designers on the team - around six designers. Everyone was very friendly, very forthcoming, and tried their best to answer my every question and concern. Even though I didn't have much experience with UX/UI when I joined them, every designer provided me with resources and other tips and tricks to get me into the whole UX/UI world. I got adjusted pretty quickly because, from the very first day, they considered me a part of the team as their equal - like I was a part of the team for a long time.”
But we also asked our new designer Nataša how she managed among a slightly larger number of designers than there were when Maja came, and she told us this:
“I was kind of cramped for the first couple of weeks. Until we got to know each other a little better. Then I saw sincere help and cooperation. In essence, it took me about a month to meet people and adjust. The team building helped me a lot with the fit :) In essence, as a newbie to this company, I continue to adapt, but I am much more relaxed now.”
We certainly try to make it as easy as possible for each new person in the team, to gradually get to know everyone and to let new people know that we are all in the same place and that we all went through that period, and we want to enable everyone a painless onboarding, without stress and fears.
How important college is or is not important in this profession, we will not discuss at the moment, because we all know that if you have skills and abilities, no one will ask you where you learned them. But what I would still single out is that the vast majority of designers graduated from the same faculty, some graduated from a college totally unrelated to our profession, and some never even thought they would do what they are doing now.
We asked our designers what helped them in college, or what they learned during their student days that helped them in their current job and profession. Our designer Marko describes what helped him better understand his position now as a Product Designer:
“As a member of a SICEF design team - a student organization with a mission to promote engineering, our college, and student life in general - I was involved in various design projects, from business cards, flyers, and posters to full website design. Working on those projects helped me better understand layout, color, contrast, and typography for print as well as for the web.”
Long-term goals at Cinnamon
Many of us are eager to progress and achieve some of our goals during our careers. Some of us are just starting, some of us have a few years of experience in our backgrounds, and some of us are seniors and great teachers. But what we all are - we are all collegial and ready to help. Together, as a team, we strive to enable every designer to progress day by day. We asked our new designer Jan what his goals are and if he can achieve them at Cinnamon:
“My first goal is to become more professional and organized regarding my work. The second one would be to learn everything that I can about UX&UI from other colleagues and projects that I will be working on. The third one is a bit abstract but for me, it is very important. To become more independent, objective and to trust my instincts about what is good and what is bad design. To put it simply, to build up my design self-esteem. I am very confident that all of my goals can be achieved in Cinnamon's design team. The reasons are the following: The colleagues are always there to help you if you have a question, there are enough projects to go around, and if there are a lot of projects you have to be organized and professional if you want to see them through and create the best design.”
We also asked our new designer Marija, how and in what ways she thinks she can fulfill her goals in the Cinnamon design team:
“I have an extensive list of skills within the UX/UI area that I would like to master. Some of them include hard skills such as UX research, UI, and motion design. I would also like to dip my toes into illustration and explore it further. As far as soft skills, improving my public speaking skills is at the top of my list. I believe I can achieve these professional goals in the Cinnamon design team, especially since we're a large and diverse team where everyone can seek advice and help.”
All of these answers you read from our design team are truly honest and inspiring. Without all these people, the team would not be the same. We strive to help and show potential future designers our way of working and the satisfaction of our team, to ultimately better understand us so that they can get to know us and see how we work.
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