At Tierney, work is structured and separated by departments but the nature of the work requires departments to work together on projects. For example, each client will have a “team” at Tierney, consisting of one or two people from each department depending on what the client hired Tierney for. What I noticed specifically at Tierney is that no matter what department you’re in, you are considered part of the “Tierney team.” If a group booked a brainstorm room and another is waiting to use it, it’s common to hear the outgoing group say “sorry Team” to the incoming group. While each department has specific tasks, they all work together and collaborate on their projects for clients as necessary.
The leadership styles of senior level employees is extremely transactional, which I think is a product of the culture surrounding the company. Like I mentioned before, Tierney is extremely team-oriented and wants to create a positive work environment that’s both fun and educational. They were actually voted one of the best places to work in Philadelphia recently! Back to leadership styles, the senior employees encourage others to ask questions and be curious about their work so that they can learn as much as possible. While they may become more firm when certain decisions need to be made, senior leadership is not overbearing and values the opinions of all members working on a project, despite their level of expertise.
Employees who are not in formal leadership roles have various opportunities to influence others in the organization. For example, every three weeks a company-wide staff meeting is held. The organization and running of the staff meeting rotates amongst mid-level employees so they all have the opportunity to run a meeting. They also get to choose a topic or focus for the staff meetings other than the necessary announcements or presentations. This is a small opportunity for them to exert influence over the entire company.
Additionally, because of the collaborative nature of the company, employees value each other’s opinions even if it might not necessarily be the right answer because they see the importance of talking through projects or scenarios. Without collaboration, especially for a PR or advertising project, there is great potential for overlooking important facts or scenarios. Therefore, the team understands that any opinion can add value to proposing or advancing a project.
The level of trust amongst leaders and members in the organization is well demonstrated with the intern program. Tierney wants to give its interns the opportunity to do real work and trust that we have the ability to do so. For example, I’ve had the opportunity to work on competitive analysis for a big client meeting my supervisor had and she used the information I found. Another intern who is in media is currently working on a graphic that will be shown to introduce a new podcast the company is airing. Additionally, the interns work on a project together all summer for a client and present their recommendations to both the client and Tierney’s CEO at the end of the summer. The company encourages and trusts employees to get involved even at the most basic level.
Followers hold leaders to a high regard and respect their opinion. While this is usually the case, followers are not afraid to challenge leaders when they disagree. For example, a mid-level employee came into one of my meetings after she had just met with the CEO. They were discussing the potential for Tierney releasing a statement in support of the LGBTQ+ community in honor of Pride Month. The CEO thought it was a great idea but wanted the team to think through things further before releasing a formal statement. The mid-level employee challenged the CEO and asked her what else there was to think through. The CEO surprised the employee and said she’s actually declined business with companies who are publicly unsupportive of the LGBTQ+ community. The mid-level employee was both shocked and happy, but the CEO wanted her to do more research nonetheless, which she was willing to do after this conversation. While the CEO had the final say, the mid-level employee was comfortable challenging the highest level of leadership at the company and the CEO was more than happy to talk through the disagreement with her. This level of trust and open communication helps maintain respect for high-level management while allowing for mid and low-level management to express their opinions.