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Curating workplace culture: Technē’s Steve McKeag

When a business grows, maintaining the perfect balance of workplace culture can be a hard task. At Melbourne-based practice Technē, long-time staffer Steve McKeag has recently taken up the mantle after being promoted to the role of Director of People and Culture.

  • Prahran Hotel.

  • Garden State Hotel. Photo by Shannon McGrath.



BY

August 6th, 2018


Indesignlive: You were made director at Technē in April this year, now that you’ve had time to settle in, has the role changed much for you?

Steve McKeag: My role has changed a bit, but in many ways, it also hasn’t, which was one of the key objectives. As you transition through your career as an architect, you gain responsibilities. But I’ve always really just wanted to be an architect.

I have also taken on business development, along with the management of people and culture. I know that ‘people and culture’ is a bit of a buzzword but it’s such an important part of the company. Getting the right mix of workplace culture is ridiculously important.

I’m also interested in people’s progression and creative directions and now it’s a more formalised process. I touch base throughout the course of a year to ensure that the path for each person in the team is where they want to be going and is also in line with Technē’s management plan.

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Getting the right mix of workplace culture is ridiculously important.
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The work-life balance at a traditional architecture practice is all too often a ‘burn the candle at both ends’ approach. This is something that we’ve identified can be managed properly through good mentoring and engagement from the senior team all the way through to the junior staff.

Garden State Hotel. Photo by Shannon McGrath.

Garden State Hotel. Photo by Shannon McGrath.

How has Technē changed? Is there are a succession plan in place?

I joined the team eleven years ago and I think we might have only been a team of five or six back then. We’re now at 34, which is evenly divided between interiors and architects.

As we’ve been growing we have brought over a lot of prime talent that has come from many other distinguished practices. That’s a really big thing for us. We want our team to feel that they have great opportunities to be a part of.

Recently, we did a culture survey that went out to all staff, anonymously, with question across six key topics. We’re in the process of going through that at the moment and looking for ideas we can implement to always be improving.

Melbourne Quarter, developed by Lend Lease.

Melbourne Quarter, developed by Lend Lease.

What advice would you give to younger architects or designers who are actively looking to climb the ladder, so to speak?

It can be really beneficial to have a focus area, whether that be as a design or project architect, or a technical project architect, for example. Plus, it’s good to develop your soft skills outside of design specifically as well. For me, communication is a big one. I have great confidence in my team, we communicate regularly.

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It can be really beneficial to have a focus area, whether that be as a design or project architect, or a technical project architect.
.

Otherwise, I guess just being actively engaged will always stand you in good stead. For us, we’re not a top-down design practice. We really try to empower up and coming designers.

Prahran Hotel.

Prahran Hotel.

What else is happening at the Technē studio?

We’ve got a workshop out the back and we’ve really been pushing collaborations, whether that’s between furniture designers, production and our design team, for example.

A lot of the guys have interest in areas of expertise or other creative practice, such as ceramics or woodworking. So we’ve just formalised a way to help facilitate more cross-team and cross-discipline collaboration, which is really exciting.

Take a look at Technē’s revamp of Melbourne’s iconic Rooftop bar.

Images courtesy Technē Architecture + Design.

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