How to choose an Agency with an Empowered Team Culture
Remember to wear pants. Shaping better, more mindful and diverse Agencies.
04 November 2021 Chris Crammond
As we head into the final few months of the year, and Agency folk are looking to plan for the year ahead, I thought I’d take stock of some of the learnings from the past 18 months, and look to factor these into how we shape our initiatives for growth and success in 2022 and beyond.
Onboarding and Culture
Much more than merch on arrival, we have learnt a lot about the importance of onboarding new staff and showcasing the key cardinal points of our Agency’s culture. Make sure you take stock of what you’ve learnt over the last year and harness it to reshape your onboarding process, ensuring new recruits get the opportunity to spend time with all the senior leaders within the Agency, and that you are all communicating the culture of the Agency adequately. For example, we run “Reverse Pecha Kucha” sessions, whereby new recruits spend their entire first day spending 10 minutes with every member of the team. We then regroup at 5pm, and have the team members play back the interesting facts and quirks they learnt from their time chatting. It served to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment, whilst removing some of the stress of onboarding for the new recruits.
Empathetic and Active Listening
Agency’s thrive when you can harness the collective consciousness of a group of diverse people towards creatively solving a problem. Trying to do this remotely has highlighted the importance of ‘Active Listening’ and allowing for the less vocal to contribute equally. Factoring this learning into both remote and in-person collaboration will only serve to improve the diversity of your Agency’s outlook and your work. Train the team on what it is, and why it’s important and it will go a long way to improving workplace harmony.
Mental Well-Being Matters
Months of lock-down and restrictions served to amplify mental health issues in a lot of Agencies. We recognised the importance of having a greater awareness and appreciation of this early in the piece and sought to build better mindfulness of it throughout the agency. We looked to put most of the senior leadership team through a Mental Health Training Course, so that we were better equipped to not only be alert for the signs of people being impacted, but also place ourselves in a better position to deal with issues before they reached a critical point.
Career Progression Pathways
It was easy to fall into the groundhog day of WFH, whilst allowing good practices and processes to fall by the wayside. As a team we discussed the importance of keeping the team motivated during these sorts of times by ensuring we maintained a good process around Career Planning, Progression and instilling in the team the importance of lifelong learning. We committed additional funds to both Group Training sessions, as well as committing 1.5% on top of each employee's salary towards training that aligned with their career goals for the year.
Work Life Flexibility
A fantastic and well respected client of ours has a simple phrase to capture the importance of workplace flexibility - “Life gets lifey!”. Never before has this been more true, and simply trying to shape one working model for all team members, just isn’t relevant any more. We took the opportunity to redefine our flexible workplace policies, in line with our core value of Accountable Autonomy. We encourage outputs over more formal working requirements and we encourage staff to take responsibility and accountability for this.
Importance of Connection
Whilst working from home has its perks some days, let's not forget one of the key reasons we all got into the Agency world - we thrive on the collective energy of a group of people. To truly gel as an agency, there is still considerable merit in gathering, in person and working through our clients problems in a personal and collaborative manner. Take the time to remodel your studio spaces, encouraging people to spend a good portion of their week working together in person. Shape monthly events to further incentivise this behaviour and I’m certain people will begin to remember what’s great about being part of an Agency. Just remind them, after a number of months at home, only being visible from the waist up, that pants are an essential item of clothing for workplace harmony.
So to my fellow agency people, I congratulate you on successfully navigating the sh!tstorm that was 2021. Take stock of the key things you learnt about yourselves, your team and what’s important to your agency. Use these learnings to build bigger, better, more mindful and diverse organisations in 2022.