Although tempting to leave it at ‘beers and beanbags in the office’, culture is about depth, consistency and, most importantly, your people.
Get it right, and it can accelerate your growth organically and attract the best talent in the industry. Those are the benefits to your business but never lose sight of the positives for your team.
Get it wrong, and you create a negative workplace and poor creative output. Toxic workplace culture has been the death of agencies and businesses the world over, which is why fostering a positive culture is so pivotal to your agency’s success and growth.
Your people are the foundation of all that you do, so treating them well and giving them the best possible workplace underpins the work you produce.
A north star
Your values can often define your culture, and they act as a north star for all that you set out to achieve. A solid set of values should also define who you are and what you stand for, making it easy for your team to get on board.
Culture is not only your values, though, but also an examination of how you interact with each other, your people and your clients. This means that it’s tangible; you can see and feel it.
By being able to see the results and effects of your culture, you can tell if it’s working or not. Sounds obvious, but how many companies set their values or create a workplace culture that doesn’t work and then do nothing to fix it until it’s too late?
Fostering a Culture for Growth
A unique and positive culture is a springboard for growth. Your team, if onboard, take the culture and run with it – implementing it into everything they touch.
When a team is fully behind a set of values and lives and breathes them, you’ll notice it in the work they produce. The business will naturally grow and become more than the sum of its parts, with positivity breeding positivity.
There has to be depth to the culture; that means more than plants in the office and extra perks. It has to mean something, and that’s communicated in the values that are practiced from the top down.
The culture has to be consistent, too; live and breathe it every day of the week, keep showing up and practicing what you preach.
The best cultures naturally encourage behaviours from the team without prompt. This is where you can see organic agency growth, as your team promotes the brand without doing anything out of the ordinary.
And I don’t mean that in a lazy sense. I mean that in the sense that if the team go about their business in the same way they normally would, whilst practicing brand values, good things happen naturally.
The positive behaviours borne out of a solid and well-defined culture propel an agency’s growth, especially when complemented with a growth mindset instead of a performance mindset.
Empower the team to grow themselves, and the agency will grow, too. Too much focus on the numbers, the general performance or the finer details will distract from what they love doing – which nine times out ten is pleasing the client and enjoying their work.
Create a solid foundation
To encourage the positive behaviours I’ve already touched on requires a solid foundation, putting meaning into the purpose and values of your organisation
You have to define what it is exactly you do, why you do it, and how you do it. Find your purpose and drill down to what drives that, and you should find your values.
Create a solid foundation of a well-defined purpose and set of values, and the behaviours should come hand in hand.
Improving workflows with culture
Great culture fosters growth, which can only happen if things work seamlessly in the background. With everyone pulling in the same direction, united by brand values, workflows improve, and the general output is far better than it would have been otherwise.
While encouraging your staff to foster a growth mindset and grow themselves, they will naturally become the best versions of themselves. With a growing team, performance improves, as do workflows.
Create an inclusive culture
In a world that insists on tearing itself apart, creating a workplace where employees want to come has never been more important. Teams want to feel safe, wanted and part of the gang – especially in the fast-moving agency world.
Creating an inclusive culture is the key to this and will only serve your organic growth well. In addition, an inclusive culture can unify employees and help them to work better together and harder together.
Build your culture from the top down – some final thoughts
It’s easy to forget that the culture of an agency should start at the top and trickle down, not the other way around. You can’t come up with a set of values and expect the staff to live and work by them without any example being set.
That’s why it’s so crucial that your values are personal to you, reflect who you are and mean something to you. If you can’t identify with them, and they don’t reflect your company, then what’s the point?
You should spend time on your values. Talk to your clients, past and present. Find out what they liked, what they didn’t, what you could do better. Then, go one better than that; talk to your team about what the company means to them and learn how you can do better every day.
Coming up with a set of values is more than a brainstorming session around a whiteboard with a coffee. It’s a period of self-reflection, learning and communicating with your team.
With a clear and identifiable set of values, you can create a culture that’s worth working for. The two go hand in hand and drive organic growth when implemented correctly.
Workplace culture was swept under the carpet for so long, but now employees are demanding more of their workplaces and employers. They’re willing to work hard and do wonderful things, but they won’t do it in a place they don’t feel comfortable.
Create a culture that you’re proud of and watch your business grow with your team leading the charge.