clean thinking

Pumped About Our People: Behind the Scenes with Chris Gevertz

From culture to new technology and HR trends, our Director of People breaks it all down

It is 4:07 p.m. on a drizzly Monday, and Clean’s director of people, Chris Gevertz, is just starting the interviewing part of her day. A pristinely organized desk –enhanced by fresh roses from her garden – creates a pleasant and welcoming human resources office. Flanked with bright windows overlooking the building’s deep blue fountain, Chris is settling into her new office as well as into agency life.

For Chris, the three short months since she arrived at Clean have gone by in a flash. Days are filled with welcoming a slew of new hires, augmenting and streamlining processes, and evaluating the organization’s award-winning culture.

To kick off our interview, I ensure we both have a cold, crisp, agency-provided La Croix (definitely a work perk). No, it is not spiked. We have an agency Happy Hour each Thursday.

Coming from the financial services world, what has surprised you most about working in an integrated creative agency?

I’ve had a wide range of people experiences that enhance my role at Clean. What has pleased me the most at Clean is the genuine collaboration across teams I observe day to day. The vast amount of sharing, the healthy information exchange, and the colorful brainstorming are critical and routine components that go into delivering excellent results for our clients and partners. The organic, unstructured conversations that conclude with tangible results are like nothing I’ve experienced.

What crossovers do you find from having worked in financial institutions to now joining the creative space?

Clients are first and foremost in every decision and discussion. In finance, creative services, or whatever vertical, the acute attention on clients is an imperative and common theme.

What makes your HR heart smile?

I am truly motivated and proud when I see how much the team enjoys working at Clean and spending time together both inside and out of the office. We laugh daily. Multiple times a day. And having that energy is invigorating for me to continually improving and listening to our people. For our employees and candidates, HR is a champion for setting up our teams for long-term success at Clean.

How do you and the executive team foster an environment that cultivates creativity and challenges existing ideas?

Clean was founded on and continues to reinforce the philosophy that we are a company of ideas. Big ideas. Small ideas. Ideas that matter.

While the agency evolves and harmonizes with itself and our clients, we are working on listening more attentively to each of our people and making sure all voices are heard and represented. All of us in leadership are working closely together to make sure this comes to fruition to benefit our people and, therefore, benefit our clients.

We created, and our actively participating in, our own Diversity and Inclusion Committee to host lunch-and-learns, create a visionary storyboard program, and discover new ways for our teams and people to leverage each other’s (maybe hidden) talents and passions. Can you tell I love this topic?!

What advice do you have for employees on blending technology while building relationships internally and externally?

Our industry is rooted in relationships – both inside our agency and externally with our clients and community partners. While technology is helpful, it doesn’t replace face-to-face conversations. They are so helpful in clarifying intent and tone, eliminating misinformation, and, of course, strengthening relationships. You can always send a recap email. The ability to have an honest, in-person dialogue is so important, and it’s a skill I look for in potential candidates.

What are some best practices for internal communication? And how do you find organizations with multiple generations all together communicating most efficiently?

One of the best practices I have experienced is hosting a weekly “all agency” meeting to share updates and news and to unite the teams in a neutral setting. Hearing from representatives from all departments and experience levels creates buy-in to initiatives and gives a forum for informal engagement.

We are also in the process of building a company intranet, which is a tool I have found immensely helpful for employee communication. Housing pertinent company, client, and industry information in one place allows team members to have a digital home base and helps alleviate communication gaps.

We are coming off National Travel and Tourism Week earlier this month. What’s on your summer travel list? And what are your Raleigh hidden gems? (We promise not to tell your secret.)

While we are happy to be visiting our dear friends in Florida in a few weeks, I am really excited for our potential trip to Italy this fall. Bring on the pizza!

The best-kept secret in Raleigh is Zest Café. The sandwiches and salads are amazing, and they pair very well with their extensive wine list – or so I’ve heard.

What’s the best part about working at Clean, besides the awesome people?

I appreciate the ability of our organization to empower employees to excel in a flexible environment. From the tailorable hours, dynamic workspaces, and collaborative style, Clean has mastered setting employees up for success in ways that work for them and their style.

We love a good industry trend. What’s one currently in HR that’s intriguing?

As we enter the season of performance management, I am personally excited to evolve our organization toward a Continuous Feedback System, where we provide continuous, real-time 360 feedback on a regular basis. This also includes incorporating thoughts on peer-to-peer level and manager-to-peer level.

Also, with our people at the heart of everything we do, strengthening our agency’s culture through new activities, career development, and leadership training is a priority. I am really interested in implementing some new initiatives that fit the personality of our teams and that bring us together in ways that will benefit both our clients and people.

Chris Gevertz is director of people at Clean. She was interviewed by Sarah Bruckner, Clean’s associate director of public relations and social media.