A little more than a year ago, the company I work for started utilizing an outside design agency quite a bit. As the in-house design, I went through four phases as I worked on accepting what has come to be a great asset: Frustration. Inferiority. Acceptance. Embrace.
Even though you may have our own in-house design team, working with an outside agency can bring a new perspective and end up being quite the asset. For me, it has turned out to be a great thing for both the company I work for and for me as a professional designer.
Here’s how I walked through the phases and ended in the choice that was positive collaboration with our outside design agency:
Phase 1: frustration
This is my house – that’s why I’m called an “in-house” designer. I know because hanging in my cube I have my very own name tag that says Caryn Pagel, visual designer. Recently the decision was made to contract out some design projects to an agency.
I feel defensive because I don’t want my work taken from me. I want to be the one creating designs for this company I’ve been so loyal to. I have been known to take things personally, even when they have nothing to do with me, and this is no exception. I find it hard to ignore the sympathetic looks from my peers in design review meetings where I am now merely a consultant rather than the designer. After all, the agency doesn’t have a nametag like mine…
Phase 2: inferiority
Maybe I’ve been thinking about this all wrong. The quality of my work must be the problem. I’ve never had negative feedback in the past, but this is Minnesota – maybe everyone’s just being polite. Instead of telling me they don’t like my designs, they decided to “hire” someone else. Maybe this isn’t the right career path for me. Myers-Briggs, here I come.
Phase 3: acceptance
It turns out nobody at my company has an issue with the quality of my work. And I’ve learned the people at the agency are down to Earth and down right nice. I’m starting to have trouble remembering why I went through the first two phases at all. My company is going to continue contracting some work out to this agency for a while, and I need to figure out a way for that to be okay in my heart. Maybe I won’t be needing that Myers-Briggs test after all.
Phase 4: embrace
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that the agency does great work, and so do I. I still have plenty of my own design projects. I now have time to be more focused on a few projects instead of scattering my brain cells amongst a multitude of different ones. How could that be a bad thing? I’ve not only come to accept us working together, but I’ve embraced it!
The point is, it’s normal to go through these phases when the company you work for decides to hire out some of its design work (or any other branding or marketing piece, for that matter). In the long run, it can be a great fit. And what’s the saying? Two heads are better than one?