What is strength-based management? In a nutshell, it means that instead of tearing people down around their weaknesses, you build them up around their strengths.
Strength-based management is a way to fight shame and blame in the workplace and instead generate confidence, energy, clarity, creativity, and stability.
At Viv, we are doing this in three concrete ways:
- Managing ourselves: team members set their own work hours outside of meetings, so they can work when they have the most energy and still have thriving personal lives. We also encourage team members to set aside time for journaling, meditation, exercise, and ideation, all of which facilitate calm and self-knowledge and allow us to show up as our best selves.
- Managing our team and clients: we’re big fans of personality tests and discussing our results with each other (recently, we did the Big 5 Assessment and Gretchen Rubin’s 4 Tendencies quiz). When work styles or personalities clash, we engage with compassion and curiosity. Why is this person unable to focus today? What would they need to fill this gap in their skillset? And, instead of obsessing over negative patterns in others, we get curious about our own reactivity, so we can get to a place of wanting to help.
- Managing our projects: each project gets 5 phases (discovery, sketching, development, QA, and maintenance). We put people in charge of each of those phases whose skillsets and talents lend themselves to them. For example, our most curious and creative people thrive in the discovery phase. Our most conscientious people thrive in QA.
At Viv Higher Ed, we attribute our steady growth in our team and client base over the last two years to our commitment to strength-based management.
Does this strength-based mindset appeal to you? Explore how you can work with us
Creativity is a key component of how agencies produce high-quality work. At Viv, we have several practices in place that keep creativity front and center at all times, from the minute we bring a new team member on through delivering a finished product. We think of our approach to creativity as three ‘pillars’: Hiring Curious (that one is all about people), Discovery (that one is all about process), and Psychological Safety (that one is all about culture).
People: Hiring Curious
To foster creativity in our work, we believe it’s key to have curious people on our team. While some may not think curiosity and creativity are inherently linked, we have seen it in action. When bright, curious people work together to solve problems, they’re going to produce creative solutions. Effective marketing requires empathy towards the audiences you’re targeting. It’s key to put yourself in their shoes and understand their goals and desires. It’s virtually impossible to do that without being curious and in turn, thinking creatively. With all of this said, it’s important that there are structures in place for curious and creative people to all come together and collaborate.
It may sound counterintuitive to have processes or templates with an end goal of creativity. However, while we pride ourselves on the depth of our enrollment marketing expertise, we also recognize that there is always much to learn about each client we partner with.It would be presumptuous to think that we know everything about a client and their situation when we’re just starting out, so we go into each project with a beginner’s mindset. We call this part of a project the discovery phase, and we tackle it in two ways. First, we prioritize asking the client and ourselves as many questions as necessary to fully develop the background needed to succeed. We want to know what the client’s goals are, the nuances of the audiences that they target, roadblocks they may be hitting with current efforts, or tactics that they have traditionally used. It’s also key to practice discovery internally – we ask each other how we’ve tackled similar issues in the past, or what approaches we think might be relevant. After we have completed questioning internally and with the client, we gather inspiration from external sources. We explore both how businesses and higher education entities have developed messaging and content around a parallel topic or issue. This allows us to think outside of that traditional higher ed box and form a cohesive vision for what we want that finished project to be.
Culture: Practicing Psychological Safety
Psychological safety is all about making sure we have a really collaborative environment where team members feel empowered and excited to share their ideas, even if not every idea is perfect or fully developed. We recently saw some data from MIT Sloan Management Review showing that toxic workplace culture is 10x more predictive of turnover than low pay. The reason for that is that it’s really hard to compartmentalize when you feel like people you work with every day don’t know you or care to listen to you, or even worse, actively diminish who you are and how you can contribute. Our internal team culture is centered around empathy and creating belonging – and that absolutely makes a difference in how we show up for clients and what results we achieve for them. To create belonging, we make time for our team to connect with each other through happy hours, team meetings, and, where possible, in-person team events. As a remote team, we think creatively about how to foster connections amongst our employees and allow space for us to learn about each other. A critical piece here is also that our team members have the opportunity to step away from work to recharge so that they can show up as their best selves. Our goal at Viv Higher Ed is to create a team culture that consistently reinforces the idea that alone we cannot accomplish what we can accomplish together and that our only way to accomplish our goals is to respect and challenge each other every day.
Our culture is rooted in the values of integrity, curiosity, respect, excellence, harmony, and collaboration. While we consistently push ourselves and each other to be the best we can be at work and beyond, it is very important to us that our team members can live full lives outside of work and complete their work from a place of inspiration and calm. This means our team members must be able to prioritize their mental and physical well-being and have availability to spend time with their hobbies, families, pets, and loved ones.
We are a fully remote team that is collaborative and enjoys each other’s company. We work together through meetings and asynchronously, typically following the standard work week hours. A full work week means 40 hours of time spent in accordance with client and internal priorities – with monthly virtual happy hours and other social events built in. As long as it does not compromise collaboration, team members are free to vary their hours outside of meetings as needed.
Many of us enjoy going on walks during the day to recharge and get some Vitamin D. Others love to do a mid-day spin class, or flex their time to attend events and appointments with their kids and pets. We are happy to say this is increasingly what many modern workplaces look like. We also know it’s appealing to folks who may be recovering from the rigidity of colleges and universities, which have been slow to take in the “innovations” of the last 15 years.
Paid Time Off
- 10 days vacation
- 5 days personal time
- 5 days sick time
- All standard federal holidays (including Friday after Thanksgiving)
- 3 floating non-federal holidays (e.g. MLK Day)
- 1 mental health day
- Birthdays off (or flex day within 2 weeks of the day)
- Winter recess between Christmas and New Year’s Day
- 3-week sabbatical after 5 years of employment
As a small business with fewer than 50 employees, we get the benefit of offering health reimbursement plans through QSEHRA. Viv provides a cash contribution on top of the employee’s salary, which can be applied to any medical expense, including insurance premiums currently being paid by a spouse, partner, or parent.
- Individual or individual with partner rate: $450/month
- Family with kids rate: $920/month
All full-time employees of Viv Higher Education have access to a tax-advantaged retirement savings account. Our retirement benefit is managed through Guidline and includes a wide array of Vanguard funds and other low-cost providers. Viv matches up to 5% of employee contributions. The employer contribution vests 3 years after the first day of employment.
Viv Higher Education is committed to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace and beyond. Our team and our work benefit from diverse perspectives, skill sets, and backgrounds.
Research shows that candidates from underrepresented backgrounds often don’t apply unless they meet 100% of the job criteria. While we have worked to consolidate the minimum qualifications for each role, we aren’t looking for someone who checks each box on a page; we’re looking for active learners and people who care about higher education.
Do you share our values?
Come work with us - from nearly anywhere.
We’re always looking for fellow higher ed veterans with expertise in enrollment marketing, including strategy, writing, design, analytics, and paid and organic campaign management.
Know someone we should talk to?