arriving in a new culture

As one of many recent additions to Hollis and Miller Architects, it is powerfully motivating to know we were each specifically and strategically recruited to be integral players on this team.

The firm has embraced the acronym AMP (Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose) to describe its ideal firm culture, recognizing the value our motivations play in personal satisfaction and performance. By bettering the individual, we better the whole firm. If you are here, then your individual purpose (defined by Jim Collins as your: passions x potential x profitability) must have aligned with the firm’s overarching vision, implying that with each person’s autonomous and group efforts, we are amplifying the cultural current towards our goals for excellence.

In general, most coaches and designers strive for the whole to become more than just the sum of the parts. What about the culture here at Hollis and Miller is helping people acclimate and encouraging the formation of a new whole? I believe a major component in developing a supportive firm culture is continued camaraderie through fellowship. One of the first traditions I encountered when working at Hollis and Miller was the little breaks at 10am and 3pm, where people step away from their computers and trace paper to top off their coffee and join the quest to conquer the daily crossword puzzle. As we work and play as a team, whether in the office, during recreational softball, or through our service projects like Learnscape, we learn how to better complement each other’s strengths. Fellowship with a common purpose builds a culture of teamwork, ripened for emerging leaders to step up, relationships to grow, and results we can be proud of.

Autonomy is the area I expect to take more time to develop, as it is a product of relationships. Everyone is conditioned with various expectations for what a professional and effective work environment looks like– However, we must guard against those expectations becoming negatively judgmental, thus hindering others from safely expressing their autonomy.

Daniel Pink defines autonomy as “the urge to direct our own lives”. Currently, I see our flex-time and dress code policies to be a solid start in empowering self-direction, yet I am interested to see how we, as a whole, embrace autonomy beyond those policies. How might autonomy be developed within our project teams? What challenges will people take on? What will be mastered? What contributions will you make?

Lana Keltner is a recent graduate sharing her insight as a developing professional.