Oh look! Advertising Age managed to squeeze in a relevant and authentic cultural perspective before the end of National Native American Heritage Month. Kudos to Redline Media Group Founder and President S. R. Tommie for penning the piece. Of course, Ad Age illustrated the content with royalty-free stock photography.
How This Agency’s Native American Heritage Helps Create An Engaging Workspace
4 ways to empower teams with a sense of tradition, community and culture
By S. R. Tommie
As employees continue to return to the office post-pandemic, readjusting to the “traditional” working environment has proven to be an ongoing challenge. As many of us adapt back to the typical work structure, the office environment itself has had to make modifications to accommodate this change in mindset.
The average full-time employee works approximately 40 hours per week, totaling more than 100,000 hours in their lifetime. Because we spend most of our time at work, the office environment has a direct impact on our quality of life. Maintaining a healthy and safe workspace promotes good mental health and efficient workflows, but you’ll also find that including fun activations and creative workspace elements stimulate a deeper commitment and dedication toward projects that are above and beyond expectations.
As a Native American-owned agency, we’ve found that leaning into tradition, both our cultural and company heritage, has helped foster an environment that is empowering, inspirational and efficient. In observance of Native American Heritage Month, we share our strategies here:
Create designated areas for brainstorming
Native American culture has historically relied on storytelling as the principal means of passing down vivid narratives that document tribal histories, rituals, customs and legends. In the modern-day office setting, brainstorming and collaborating is a way of calling back to the creativity found in Native American storytelling. By creating spaces for team members to gather, they’re able to easily collaborate and bounce ideas off one another in a way that can’t be replicated through email communication. Establishing “Think Tanks” equipped with whiteboards for jotting down notes and snacks to fuel ideation is a great way to inspire creativity in the workplace. These designated areas give our creatives room to breathe and the opportunity for their stories to come to life.
Teamwork makes the dream work
The traditional Native American ideal of the shared strength of community can serve as an invaluable foundation for creating a strong, cohesive team. Hosting annual events to honor holidays and celebrate milestones help to establish traditions within your organization and provide a healthy way for team members to get to know their peers outside of work projects. Small gatherings can be as simple as singing “Happy Birthday” to celebrate a team member or creating special moments during holidays with shared meals and decorations. This furthers a sense of community and culture, helping to increase communication and encourage collaboration as team members continue to get to know one another and recognize each other’s strengths. As they continue to work together, they’re also able to learn from each other, connect and grow.
Create projects for team members to collaborate
As a matriarchal society, Seminole Tribal Citizens inherit an additional layer of kinship from their mother, referred to as their clan. Each clan is symbolic of elements in nature, and imbued with inherent obligations to family, earth and tribe, while possessing clearly delineated strengths and attributes from their namesake. These characteristics collectively contribute to the well-being of the tribe, family unit and surrounding communities.
As team members create healthy working relationships, they are exhibiting similar characteristics to Native clans, as they too are working toward ensuring the well-being of their colleagues and the work they produce in a collaborative way. While not every project needs group cooperation, some will require several great minds to work together. When collaborating, team members add elements from each of their suggestions and are able to elevate the project to further heights than if it were worked on by an individual alone.
Encourage ideas from anyone, anytime, about anything
There are eight Seminole Tribe of Florida Clans—Panther, Bear, Deer, Wind, Bigtown, Bird, Snake and Otter. The various attributes of these clans are a unique reflection of the Seminole Tribe’s tradition of diversity. A variety of perspectives can be the key to unlocking creativity. Good suggestions can come from anywhere.
Each team member has a distinct and different background, contributing from their own unique vantage point. Problem-solving for global markets requires global perspective and that perspective is fostered by diversity. While each team member may have their own specialty and job focus, having fresh takes for a campaign revamp or project suggestions provides the ability to see things from different angles.
Redline Media Group is a company founded upon and rooted in the traditional Native American ideals of character, shared strength of community, continuous improvement, appreciation for what one has and a dedication to supporting those in need. Collectively, we share the belief that our daily actions can have a significant effect on the world, and that it is our duty to improve it for ourselves and for generations to come.
“Love what you do, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” takes on a new meaning when you consider many of us will spend more than 100,000 hours in the workplace. Recognizing and implementing traditions both old and new in the workplace can provide your team with a sense of community and culture, creating ongoing opportunities for them to feel empowered and inspired.