ESSENTIALS TOOLKIT: ENERGISING YOUR CULTURE
TIME TO EMBRACE A NEW ERA
When it comes to working life it isn’t just a question of getting back to normal, whatever that might be now. It’s a question of culture. Specifically, the strength and shape of it and its potential to drive the success of your business in a post Covid era.
So, whether your culture is in relatively good shape now or in need of repair, don’t consider this as a ‘return’ to anything. See it as an opportunity to relaunch your business and reboard everyone to a new culture that’s better and more empowering for everyone.
LEAD WITH PURPOSE
Businesses with a strong sense of purpose and values have fared well in this recent fight – drawing on them to frame response and guide action. Consider yours – are they in place? Are they shared by everyone in your agency and if so, do they shape the big decisions and keep you focused on what’s important?
- Rally your leaders to define and reset where necessary. Play to your strengths but make sure there’s a good stretch in there too, so you’re able to meet new expectations from clients, talent and partners who will expect more from you.
- Put your agency through a cultural workout. What behaviours do you want to hone, what has no place anymore and what do you need to introduce to your routine?
- Lead as you mean to go on through your words and actions. Prepare to communicate clearly and optimistically to everyone about what will be different and better, and what shared success looks like.
- Furthermore, evidence with symbols of change and plan for them to be in place as you move into the next phase. For example, this could be new rituals, new reward and recognition systems or more continuous digital learning and support.
CREATE A BETTER WORKING MODEL
Some of your team may be returning from furlough and others, including potential new recruits and contractors, will be entering a new phase where conditions like remote working will be more the default than the exception. So, start as you mean to go on and reboard everyone to a new way of working and collaborating.
- Lead with empathy - really listen to employees and understand their unique circumstances. Whether one-to-one and/or via survey, get a read on levels of confidence and capacity to adapt.
- Introduce everyone to a new era. Start by reframing the role of the office and the value of in-person engagement. This will be different for every agency and different again across geographies and functions. Look at the most important work you will do, consider when you will be more productive and creative remotely and when you’d benefit from being co-located.
- Be more inclusive and community minded. Virtual working is an opportunity to open up talent pools, create a more level playing field and increase the capacity to access and share ideas across teams, offices, networks and external partners.
- Make sure employees and partners understand by clearly explaining what is changing and why, how performance will be measured and how you will learn and adapt as a team and over time.
EMPOWER AND SUPPORT YOUR COMMUNITY
With a new era comes new expectations and new standards. Creating a culture of community that encourages people and partners to raise their game, and that of the agency, is key to future success. This demands great leadership and a solid digital support system.
- Look at where you need to upskill people to deliver in smarter and faster ways. In some cases, this could be to support a pivot in your agency’s focus and for others it will be a level-up agenda across teams. Identify the right digital learning support so that upskilling is continuous and tailored to the evolving needs of your business.
- For leaders and managers driving truly effective teams virtually is now the norm. Support them in developing the softer skills they will need to understand and get the best from their teams.
- Consider that team also includes the freelancers and partners who will be an important extension of your agency and the value you can bring to clients – engage them in your vision and in your community.
- Identify the informal leaders amongst you – the influencers and energisers – and harness their power to bring everyone along and help them feel comfortable with new developments.
- Get creative when it comes to recognition and rewards – looking at different success models that reward initiative, incentivise progression and recognise contribution to delivering purpose and profit.
Culture is who you are, what you share and what sets you apart. Whether you’ve survived this period because of it, or you realise there is work still to do – now is the time. Start as you mean to go on, sooner rather than later.
WHAT TO DO
Every business will have different issues in relation to culture, but the approach required will be similar in most cases. The main phases to work through will be:
Frame & Clarify: Review your culture – your purpose, values and behaviours, the rituals, ways of collaborating and working, learning and development, rewards and recognition - against future expectations and standards. Identify gaps and scope for development. Define your objectives and measures of success.
Explore & Prioritise: Explore your options for improving and transforming your culture – leadership, ways of working, communication and engagement, learning and development. Identify potential changes to your current approach and prioritise them in terms of contribution to achieving your objectives.
Plan & Act: Consider the implications of implementing these changes - physical, human and financial. Shape them into an implementation plan with clear stages and measures of progress/success.
HOW WE CAN HELP
We recognise that agencies will have different levels of capability, time and budget to deal with a specific issue. So we’ve designed all our services to give you different ways of drawing on our expertise and experience to help your business thrive.
We’ll bring all our knowledge and experience - and share it with you throughout the process. You and your team will handle most of the work in line with the programme we’ll agree together. We’ll review and challenge your work and make sure you stay on track to deliver your objectives.
We’ll not only share all our knowledge and experience, but we’ll use our expertise and ideas to actually deliver specific parts of the programme for you. We’ll take on some of the detailed challenges but will always be close to you and your team. You’ll be confident of the best possible outcomes, efficiently and quickly.