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Create a culture of possibility to drive your employees upwards

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As the managing director of a creative business I would say we are slightly ahead of the curve in this regard, but by no means where we should be. I also believe that we need to address the issue of diversity at every level of our organisation to ensure a progressive, thriving, creative culture in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.

Like a lot of organisations, we employ people from all over the world with different cultures and different attitudes to the workplace, and this is gradually breaking down many of the ‘accepted norms’ in a very positive and progressive way.

The integration of technology and design and the need for real insights from around the world means that collaboration and cross-discipline teamwork is absolutely critical. This also means it’s becoming an extremely fast-paced and demanding world.

Working internationally means working with different time zones and working with technology means it’s harder than ever to really focus on one thing at a time. Net, net, our work lives are eating in to our personal lives more than ever – we need to adapt to this new world.

I believe that there are three very important areas for organisations and managers to pay attention to: 1) The recognition and development of talent, skills and leadership qualities 2) Empowering people to take control of their own careers, and 3) Flexibility: we must advocate a better work/life balance for a happier and more productive workforce.

We call this ‘creating a culture of possibility’. To achieve this it must first be an inclusive and collaborative culture – this is critical for creativity. But it’s an ongoing and evolving process. We look for specific characteristics in people, rather than the standard level of experience and/or likeability of the person.

We also ensure our people are developed through a programme of learning, recognition, responsibility and joy. Focusing on the soft skills can grate in a climate like this, but my experience so far is that it considerably boosts morale, encourages better teamwork and so improves overall productivity.

It is important that everyone in the company buys in to this, not just the management team. So everyone creates their own 100 day plans to share and align with their line manager, that include business and personal goals. These encourage a more frequent dialogue around short- and long-term ambitions.

We encourage our highest potentials and peak performers to define their ‘personal purpose’ and how that might integrate with the agency. Through this process they may find they want to do something entirely different – and that’s great –defining your personal brand helps you appreciate the value you can personally bring to a business and this is very empowering.

Success means different things to different people, and achieving personal success happens when you take control of your career rather than leave yourself at the mercy of circumstance.

Above all we believe in a spirit of “nothing is impossible”. Every individual can be transformational and nothing gets in the way of a great idea. 

It sounds like a cliché, but I have only seen truly great things happen when teams of people are driven by a shared dream and purpose. Without this, driving the business forward will feel like trying to drive a car with a faulty engine.

Rachelle Headland is the managing director of Saatchi & Saatchi X.

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