Beth Freedman is the Managing Director of gyro:UK, a leading global B2B creative agency, and has spent her career working for some of the biggest agencies in the world, including Saatchi & Saatchi and Fallon.
Beth believes real business momentum happens when service-based businesses invest in the growth and development of their people. It’s the human part of the business that agencies often forget. She attributes her own upward mobility to those who nurtured her talents throughout her career. And as a result, it is an imperative that she is championing in her leadership role today.
Fostering employee potential will help you get the most out of your business
Beth believes that the best client-service oriented organizations are the ones that recognize and invest in the people who truly do the work. Building this bench strength takes being a great manager which requires one to make that mental switch from being a doer to a coach. Because when you manage a team, department or a company, your job is also making everyone better at their own job.
Even though you may have to run lean, it’s never good for any senior leader to be doing the day to day work and yet try to elevate themselves. You have to learn how to get out of your own way. As Beth tell us “you are selling the resource of the humans that she employs because the agency is really the diversity of people and personalities and backgrounds and skill sets that comes together to create some magic thing that I can give to a client and say see aren't you glad you worked with us. And if you don't have that wonderful magical human mixture of insanity, you won't have very high-quality product.”
However, Beth also believes that it is a two-way street in that the employees need to show their commitment to listening and observing to optimize their own learning.
Team-centered vs. Self-centered
Another crucial ingredient in creating the right culture is the notion of teamwork and playing in position. Those players have earned their spot regardless of their age and regardless of the path they took to get there. The focus is on having the best team as “you can only do great work with great people.”
Further, providing the the best possible support system for your employees serves as motivation and encouragement to help them feel more comfortable in terms of being pushed out of their comfort zone and challenging themselves
It’s important to not forget that a business needs to be human as it can possibly be because it comes down to the people - it has to be authentic and hold true in the small moments and big ones.
Agencies are selling the resources of humans who are employed there -- so investing in employees benefits clients as much as the agency.
It’s critical to make time to really train your junior people to be performing better and performing up particularly if your agency runs incredibly lean.
You need to look at the business from the lens of ensuring you understand the value of everybody that works for you otherwise they will leave because it is about being the coach and not necessarily the star player.
Employee development isn’t all through mentoring. Your people need to understand that it also through listening and observing which is one of the critical ways to learn.
Working with a diverse, multi-generational workforce may come with different expectations and work styles, but at the end of the day, anyone at any age who is mature and has a strong work ethic can be cultivated into a leader with the right mentorship.
It’s important for employees to know how to play in position. Teamwork works best when employees focus on fulfilling their designated roles before contributing to other ones.
Creating a human-centric culture is about making sure that the people who work for you are getting the benefit of the strongest support system, in a way that both drives them and lifts them up.
If you're smart, hardworking, and have got enough humility to have to admit, especially at a senior level, that you don't know what you don't know, you can probably learn almost anything.
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