Scaling culture is a challenge. But in my experience, culture isn’t a castle in the clouds which just magically appears. At times it’s a gut feeling you listen to when you hire; but this feeling should come from a clear place – it’s set of attributes and behaviours which are consciously built into daily business practices, from the CEO through to a team of technical consultants.
In the past year at Emark, we have hired 45 new talented marketing strategists, consultants and technologists, with 65 more to come in 2019. We’ve also fostered what is fast becoming a treasured company culture of close collaboration and co-learning.
What’s the secret? Just like Emark’s approach to marketing, it’s about scaling what’s personally relevant. Here are a few self-growth practices which we see scaled in our company’s cultural practices.
1. Scaling something personal: A boutique agency approach, but with an international footprint
Size-wise and strategy-wise, we sit somewhere between digital agencies and big consultancy firms. This is deliberate, and it really matters for our organisational culture. Everyone wants to work with global brands like Scotch & Soda, IKEA, Takeaway.com, Marks & Spencer,Bugaboo – as well as with Salesforce’s leading technologies. It gives the scale and the quality stamp to how you approach customer experience.
As the leading Salesforce partner for EMEA, we can offer brand names and big campaigns. But we’re also a boutique agency with a ‘start-small’, pragmatic approach to the way we work and add value for our clients.
2. Learn by doing: Take a more hands-on approach to innovation
We dip our toes into new techniques and technologies together internally before recommending them to clients. Emark encourages a practical, test-and-learn approach to trialing the latest solutions, without making grand plans and commitments based on pure market trends like some of our global consulting cousins. We roll up our sleeves and get started immediately, ready to learn whilst doing and working closely with colleagues by organising workshops to see what truly works and what doesn’t. Then, we advise our clients accordingly.
3. Pass on what you personally learn to shape the growth paths of others
This means we also centralise our time spent with one another internally. Many agencies spend the majority of their time on-site with clients – and this is an important balance to strike. We emphasise the importance of learning from one another and keeping a consistent sense of community by being in the Emark office 2 days per week.
Sometimes this is difficult, but it’s a cornerstone of our way of working – and one which we’re avoid to compromise. Our ability to learn from one another as an agency unit and community is what helps us stay ahead of the curve, creating value for our clients by helping them build better customer experience.
4. Success goes beyond how good you look on paper
A pragmatic approach, a communicative working style, and an energetic, solution-oriented attitude are as important to us as marketing competencies and technical skills – if not more important. We have hired people who perhaps knew less, but had a clear interpersonal click with the team which translated into a desire to learn, and get things done right. We’ve also chosen not to hire people who look great on paper, but don’t possess that crucial eagerness to improve themselves, or tendency to help those around them to become better versions of themselves too.
5. Failing fast and learning from your mistakes is part of the territory
What we want to scale is that one-to-one trust you get with a colleague when you feel at home, and have enough confidence in one another to understand that it’s OK to fail – as long as you’re learning. In an innovative co-learning culture, failure doesn’t equal personal incompetence, as long as you’re using it to improve yourself.
Pausing and taking the time to reflect on what we value is important – for both self-growth and collective growth. If we’re intentional about the way we want to move forward, learning as we go, and caring enough to encourage others to do the same, then we can grow in the right way.
Do these principles and points of reflection about company culture resonate with you and match up with your own personal growth ambitions? If you’re interested in working in the fast-moving field of customer experience, steered by Salesforce Sales & Service, Marketing, Commerce, Datorama or DMP solutions, please connect with me on LinkedIn and we can discuss further over coffee.