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CJ Gan on Communicating Empathy

July 25, 2023

Media.Monks' Design Lead, CJ Gan, shared his thoughts on communication styles and the use of empathy in collaborations

The Journey to Design Lead

Hi CJ! To start off, can you share about how you ended up in your current role?

I'm the design lead at Media Monks. I'm in charge of all design-related matters and I manage the team of designers for our clients. I've always wanted to be a team lead, and I've been fulfilling this responsibility for five years. However, I've never had official training as a lead.

Generally, before joining Media Monks, I worked at several smaller agencies where there wasn't a dedicated mentor to guide me. I had to teach myself many things. At Media Monks, I have the opportunity to work for a multinational company with its own processes and expectations, which I did not anticipate until I started working here.

Basically, as part of a multinational company, we work with other offices across the Asia Pacific region. It's important to be able to understand, communicate, and collaborate with people we've never met before, as the teams change from project to project. There is an expectation to be able to meet for the first time and immediately work together. That's how I ended up in my current role.

Guide to Communication through the Stakeholder Matrix

How have your relationship with your team members changed as a result of joining the Leadership Essentials?

Before the sprint, basically, it's about learning how to navigate the fluidity of work, especially in the creative industry: knowing who to speak to, when to do it, and how to do it. This is still a learning process for me, but I'm definitely getting better.

In terms of relationships, I suppose this is something that I have learned through my experience of leading teams. I am now more comfortable, aware, and mindful of how I should approach a certain challenge or topic, and to whom I should speak.

Having the framework in mind from the Leadership Essentials training, it really helps me to better understand who the stakeholders are that I should approach first before going to the artist.

The communication styles from the stakeholder matrix are one of the frameworks that have helped. This framework involves putting certain characteristics of a person in that matrix, which helps to understand when or how to speak to a particular individual, especially in a culturally diverse organization.

The other thing is identifying and empathizing with my stakeholders. This is also something that I find very helpful in terms of understanding where they stand and how I should prioritize them within the quadrant.

A Better Work Overview

Interesting! How was the implementation of that framework?

Understanding that at a different time, with different stakeholder impacts, can influence changes accordingly is important. Having said that, I think it's really helpful for me to get an overview picture.

While you're working, sometimes you're so busy that you start to forget about these little things that are important.

By putting them together, I find the framework, the stakeholder matrix, and the communication styles really helpful.

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