Your company is going to have a culture whether you want it or not, so you may as well make it a great one. Bad company culture leads to disaffected team members, fast turnover of staff, and a general lack of enthusiasm for the job at hand. That not only leads to a bad working environment, but ultimately to poor performance. If team members don’t feel they are part of something great, it will show in what they produce. That way lies unhappy customers or clients.
A great company culture however, means everybody is more likely to be happy in their job and consequently to stay, to pull their own weight, to interact, and to produce the goods for the benefit of the team as a whole. Not only that, it will also increase your chances of finding the right people to work with you, making the HR role so much easier and more cost-effective. In fact, establishing a culture code for your agency doubles the effectiveness of your hiring policy, according to research detailed in a Brandon Hall Group Research study.
A set of shared beliefs, values and practices that make up the company culture doesn’t have to mean everybody thinks the same – far from it. You want to have a successful inbound digital marketing agency, not a cult. We are all individuals, with our own opinions, and constructive input from differing viewpoints is essential to finding the right solutions to daily challenges. But the overall values and beliefs held within your agency need to encourage the desire to work together as a team to enjoy success.
Agencies looking for guidance and the reasons why company culture is so important should check out Contagious Culture – but read on here first!
Culture is to recruiting what product is to marketing. When you have a great product, it attracts customers. When you have a great company culture where everybody works together to realise common goals, it attracts talented people who can help deliver an even better product or service, which in turn attracts even more customers. According to a blog by fastcompany.com, more research by Brandon Hall shows that 72% of businesses or agencies see a direct link between a good working dynamic and increased productivity.
Just as we mapped out how to ‘build the pain mountain’ so that your agency can win multi-year retainers, here we outline the first steps you need to take to start creating a culture code for your agency that will help you find and keep the right people to drive your business forward.
1 – Define your agency’s mission and the values you hold to make this possible
We will assume that your mission is to provide a top-class digital marketing service for clients that can include SEO, inbound marketing strategies, lead generation and conversion, analytics and result measurement, etc.
But what do you value as an agency? Do you want to achieve your objectives through any means possible, or is there an ethical element to your approach? Sure, lots of lovely profits is something we all want, but what else do you value? Hard work? Honesty? Dedication? Innovation? Outline the core values you want to encourage, but don’t make it a mission impossible with unreachable goals. You might also want to throw in some characteristics you aspire to in terms of how the business is run. Do you want the workplace to be fun? Diligent? Hierarchical or collaborative?
This will not only enable you to see how your current employees fit in, but define the type of people who could be a good fit for future hires.
2 – Look at your policies
Is getting the job done the most important thing in your agency culture? It should be one of them, but are having fun, enjoying being at work, learning new skills or rewarding excellence also present?
An agency that offers the chance to develop as a person is more likely to have happy employees than one that just asks staff to achieve results day in, day out, with no scope for an improvement in their status and no means by which they can be helped to reach their targets.
3 – Assess the benefits of working with your agency
Larger agencies might be able to afford some great in-house facilities such as a gym, subsidised lunches, childcare, etc, and while smaller agencies may not be able to compete with that, there are still perks you can offer.
Do you allow for flexible working hours and work-from-home options? More importantly, do you allow for incremental wage increases? Bonuses for achievement?
Is there a social benefit to working with your agency? Even a monthly night out with ‘drinks on the boss’ can lead to a better work environment, and shows that it’s not all work and no play, which of course makes Jack (or Jill) a dull boy (or girl).
4 – Outline how new team members will be brought into the fold
You shouldn’t just throw new hires in at the deep end and let them at it. This can lead to their feeling overwhelmed or even isolated.
Instead, outline how they will fit into your agency and provide a plan for regular one-to-ones with management, up-skilling events and courses, and perhaps a mentor to ease them into the role.
And stick to it!
You want to promote a culture of learning and team building, but also one of trust, and not adhering to your plans and promises can only lead to employee dissatisfaction.
You should also be able to outline how your various departments work together. We spoke recently about the chicken and egg scenario in digital marketing, whereby sales need marketing to provide them with the leads to close, but marketing needs sales to close those deals in order to be able to invest in marketing resources that help get those leads in the first place.
Do you have an integrated digital ‘smarketing’ strategy that solves this conundrum? If not, you should establish one that sees both departments working together in collaboration to achieve results for the agency as a whole, and you should be able to outline how this works to each team member, to underline how your agency operates as a unified entity.
5 – Evaluate career prospects
Having a job is one thing, but having a career is something far better, and your employees will want to know that there is a chance for them to climb the ladder if they have the ambition and talent to do so.
Set out scalable prospects for employees that give them the drive to prove themselves and help bring success to your agency. If diving into your business means they will be treading water in a stagnant pool for years, they won’t be pushed to better themselves and chances are they won’t even dip their toe in.
Even if there is no room for promotion within a small agency set-up, you can at least provide your employees with the knowledge, experience and skillsets that will make the position more enticing, because providing knowledge enables staff to become better at their jobs.
Do you encourage hands-on upskilling and industry-led learning about issues such as big data or AI and automation, and actively encourage your team to become familiar with and utilise these new trends?
While you won’t want star employees to leave you for a competitor, enabling their improvement is likely to bring more success to you, which in turn will enable you to provide that promotion or rise in status to them, so they won’t feel the need to go elsewhere.
Remember, cultures – good or bad – grow, so make sure your agency establishes and promotes one that is conducive not only to getting results, but to a satisfying work environment. If you do, you will see that finding and retaining a happy workforce who can upskill, develop and improve leads to increased productivity and happier clients, and when your clients are happy, that means you will be too.
Learn more about how Get Focused, the agency for agencies, can help you convert potential customers into clients by booking time with me.
Clodagh is currently based in Dublin and is the a co-Director of Get Focused Ltd, the first Irish Platinum HubSpot Partner Agency. She's an accomplished inbound agency sales and marketing coach who has helped hundreds of agencies in the HubSpot Agency Partner Program since 2013, both in APAC and EMEA.