None-formulaic agency culture, Hard baked, not half baked.

This post came about through a recent discussion with a CEO client of mine who was having difficulty with his client services team. His reflections were that he wanted them to connect with clients on more than just the day-to-day work basis. He, quite rightly, wanted to build a closer, more personable relationship between his teams and his clients.

He was contemplating setting up a weekly calendar reminder that asked his team to send an article or something of added value to clients each week – demonstrating that they were thinking of them over and above the ‘lets get the job done’ 9-5 back and forth.

The trouble with this formula is that it is entirely that, a formula. A requisite rather than an instinctive behaviour.  When we discussed it further, it became obvious it would be altogether at odds with creating real connections. Clients would see through it, and therefore the energy spent would be entirely wasted.

It led us to a discussion (with more to come) on genuine agency culture. How it is created, and how gestures big or small, need to have real meaning behind them – they need to be instinctive; hard-baked not half-baked, and they come from a hell of a lot more consideration than a time-honoured notification.

Genuine culture, the sort that enriches relationships between teams and clients, is something that goes much deeper than a weekly calendar reminder. It permeates the lives of employees and impacts most other areas of the business – including client relations, talent acquisition and retention.

My client’s issue is far from unique – every business leader I work with wants to create exceptional teams – and it led us to mull over the idea of cross pollination, the theory that by consistently instilling the feeling of collective effort and collaboration encourages team members to share their best ideas and teach each other – and clients.

Here are a few other things you should consider – a none-formulaic formula if you will – to building a great culture in your business:

  • Build character and belonging
  • Encourage collaboration and empowerment
  • Celebrate wins together
  • Embrace failure together
  • Have respect
  • Listen, always
  • Create a strong agency brand

Build something that you are proud of, and in turn that others can be proud of. If what you do and say is admirable, people will talk, and in the case of my client, act – instinctively, between themselves and clients.

One particular spontaneous, deep seated example of culture I saw recently was in a LinkedIn comment from a new starter at data and web analytics consultancy, Measurelab – a snap of a welcome box with a brilliantly authentic scrawled ‘Welcome aboard’ message and a charming smiley face. I can’t be the only one who instantly felt like I knew the company better, and really, really liked them. I could practically picture one of their employees, black marker in hand – smiley face culture truly baked in – ready to welcome another soon-to-be brand champion. Culture is often difficult to encapsulate, but when your welcome box is already branded, and yet someone still takes the time to doodle a smiley face on the front, I think that pretty much covers it.

Culture is something I’ll be writing about fairly frequently, so I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you thinks makes a great team.

If you have something on your mind, a challenge you’re wrestling with or just want an alternative point of view, I’d be very happy to lend an ear and maybe help you start to unpick the issues. I’ve set aside an hour every Wednesday morning to help any agency leaders who want to get the ball rolling. It’s completely free, and you can book a chat with me here.

If you haven’t already, please make sure you sign up to receive my agency newsletter, Rambling On – concoction of interesting news, articles, musings and stats for you to mull over.




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If you have something on your mind, a challenge you’re wrestling with or just want an alternative point of view, I’d be very happy to lend an ear and maybe help you start to unpick the issues.