Presentation - Four Strategies to Solve the People PuzzleJun 26, 2022
VIDEO: 55:40 mins
AUTHOR: Gareth Healey
In this GYDA Expert Seminar, Gareth takes you through four strategies to help you with your people puzzle. It includes: 'Enabling and encouraging people to achieve greater knowledge, capabilities and performance.'
Click here to email Gareth and chat further on the subject!
Robert Craven 00:00
All right, so this is a masterclass from guided grow your digital agency and small discreet audience, which is fantastic to listen to and watch a Gareth Healy, who's going to be talking about four strategies to solve your people. People seem to be the bigbig thing we'll talk about forever and ever. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to hand over to Gareth, he's going to present for about 25 ish minutes, any questions, put them in the q&a, and then we can have a good chat and conversation afterwards. And we'll sort of wrap up before the clock. So, over to you, Gareth, you should have control. And you should be able to share slides when you're ready.
Gareth Healey 00:53
Thank you very much, Robert. Can that's shared? Can everybody see that?
Robert Craven 00:56
Gareth Healey 00:58
Good. Fantastic. Thank you very much for that intro. It's great to be here, Robert, with you. Great to see we don't see much of each other these days. They're not seeing each other in person for well, 18 months, but it's always good to see it. And thank you, everybody else for joining us. Today. I mean, Robert gave me an open brief here to talk about exactly what I wanted, as long as it was to do with growing digital agencies, of course. So I've chosen people. Just a little bit about me first, before we get into that I'm an agency coach and mentor, I'm based in North Yorkshire and in Harrogate in the UK. Have that despite my youthful good looks, 25 years experience in the sector, have bulk of those back 15 years, I ran, owned and ran my own agency, worked for it for a bit longer. We did a management buyout. So I bought an agency and then ran it for 15 years go up to 12 million turnover. 175 people. So big, big old number of people exited that business in 2017. And since then, I've been working with Robert and unfirm, with my own clients on helping agencies growth. So that's that's enough about me, but like say Robert gave me on brief, what do I want to talk about? So I chose the what is the second biggest headache for agency owners? In my opinion, it's the second it's the thing that takes up the second most amount of air time in my meetings, probably just behind new business, of course, for many people, but it's people the challenges, joys of managing, motivating, recruiting retaining people is sort of often on the agenda with my meetings and my clients. And the reason for that, well, I think that over the recent years is, has become even more prevalent, really, because there are more and more employment opportunities for people, as we've touched upon, just now than ever before. There's when I started having agencies, I mean, there wasn't just agencies to work for and freelancing was of course a thing. But even back then, but it's more, it's far easier now to be a freelancer, it's far easier to set your own business up. We all know about the the sort of proliferation of agencies of all different types. And of course, in housing in recent years has become even more and more on the radar and more and more job opportunities in brands have become available. And we've got, you know, massive changes in attitudes to work since I started out in agencies, the desire for more work life balance, of course, has changed not just in agency well being in business and the world in general.
Gareth Healey 03:46
And more more recently, of course, the increased demand for digital skills and COVID has obviously hit and I'm gonna talk about too much about COVID today, but it's changed how we know we can work. And it's changed how a lot of people want to work. I talk to agencies every day, not all of them. But every day somebody talks to me about the currently about the challenges they're facing in getting their stuff back to the office, even though it might when it is we're able to morally right to do so people have adapted very, very well to working from home and want to retain that flexibility and that in many instances not get back to the office. So huge challenges. I have to admit something here. Actually, I never have a crystal ball. But about 12 months ago, I was I predicted a couple of things and was talking open about a couple of things. I thought there's never going to be a positive from COVID. Of course that was there has been a horrendous experience resolved but I thought maybe a slight silver lining to the economic fallout. If you can look at Silver Linings and look for positives. I thought there might be a bit more of an opportunity to get some better people on board. I thought those agencies that survived would have are a bit more of an opportunity to pick and choose some decent staff who sadly might have lost the jobs or for whatever reason, been out of work. And I thought that there'd be more loyalty, I thought people would hunker down a bit. And, you know, try and write things out a little bit in the job they're in. So the bit less of changing roles and less and more loyalty. And certainly what I'm seeing a massive generalisation, of course, but how wrong I was. Because it in certainly in the people I'm speaking to in the world, I'm operating in with agencies, you know, the key skills in particular, the technical skills are more in demand than ever, as other people as victims just search to been there in the midsection in recruiting people, people are throwing money at people.
Gareth Healey 05:41
And as I'll touch upon later, often, it's people that even I look at and think, you know, they're not worth that money. And they're experienced enough to command that salary. And people are moving jobs more frequently than ever before. A lot of people are not people that have actually changed jobs during the pandemic, and never actually set foot in the business they've been working for. And before they moved on, so you know, how wrong I was there? I think we can all see that. Well, I would say, I've ever talked to somebody in an agency owner this morning about this, there's the seemingly almost a transfer of power from employer to employee. I'm sure it's not just the agency sector experience in this, but just like consumers started to sort of wrestle some control away from brands, the employer, I'm finding myself and a couple of people have commented on this to me, in the last week or so that employees have got the power now employees are demanding salaries, demanding flexibility, you know, negotiating harder. People are taking up a lot more time and the issues around recruitment, particularly taking a bit more time. And there's this arms race of sort of perks and benefits that people in agencies are trying to match what is either literally have on offer, or their agencies have their competitors, or maybe it is rumoured and the media suggests there's an offer at bigger companies, Facebook, and Google and all the usual sort of suspects. There's this arms race to sort of match the perks and benefits of unlimited holidays, complete flexibility, gym memberships, Netflix subscriptions, what you know, where's it going to end. But I do think already that the thing that worries me the most is not that it's the fact that I'm already seeing lower standards in people and lower standards and agencies, recruitment people, sets of people joining agencies on higher salaries at high level, who I believe wouldn't have been recruited 12 months ago, 2 years ago, at that level on that salary, because they don't have the experience might be great people, but they don't have the experience to demand that salary, but because of the shortage because of the urgency, we see I'm seeing that lowest standard where people are grabbing people, whereas you know that's not a good place to be. And I think, overall as well, I think there's the what worries me is our connection as employers, with employees, it's becoming in danger of becoming quite transactional, and just about how much money, how much perks, how much holidays, how much flexibility, what can you offer me, and that's a real danger as well.
Gareth Healey 08:21
So, you know, engaged people are our biggest assets. In a business, every digital agency is working with technology, of course, every single day, but our real assets, and it's a bit of a cliche, but it's a true thing and get people in particularly engaged people are our biggest asset and an agency we need to protect that, you know, we sell knowledge, we sell expertise, we sell client relationship building skills. And that's what we sort of sell really most agents is over there, even over the technological solutions. And I certainly know from my background, you know, again, it's sort of one of my favourite quotes. The Peter Drucker culture eats strategy for breakfast quotes. You know, I certainly, it's one of the things it's an oldie but it's a good it's one of the ones I stand by, because it work culture was one of our, certainly, if not our competitive advantage. In my agency, we managed to create a culture that people moved mountains for us, and for our clients. And that was a secret really, in trying to keep as many people as we could at that time. We create culture through engagement, and not through buying people Netflix subscriptions and various other things. It needs to be nurtured. But just looking just quickly on. I'm a big fan of these surveys that are done that are everywhere on LinkedIn or back on what people want. And of course, there's the usual suspects here. This is a source breaker one a recent one I saw flexibility features quite highly on the top of this list. We'll go through Oh, we've seen these before the wire company Peter chaps benchmark stuff, which is I'm sure you've seen this fabulous flexibility, which is highly in there, I thought was interesting leadership at the top of that were featured very heavily, which I was quite pleased to see. So because I did it, I think we'll come on to in a second, there's a major sort of factor for me. So that's what people are wanting. But what's the solution to our people challenges? Well, as a friend, the bad news, I don't think there is one solution. But I've got four strategies that I sort of always stick by. And I've always worked for me, in my previous life as an agency owner, and they're all centred around, actually giving people to people, but not giving as in bequeathing perks and benefits here, there and everywhere, about giving people what they want, but also what they need. And the four sort of strategies are there on the screen, but their growth, a recognition, their experience, and it's and leadership.
Gareth Healey 10:59
So I'm just gonna go through those four individually and just touch upon each one of them. Before we move on to some questions, a bit of a debate if we want to go there. So I think you know what I mean, by growth, well, clearly, this is enabling people to achieve greater knowledge to grow in their role to grow as an individual, to better performance for us as an agency, but also to grow their skills. And quite frankly, it took me a long time as an agency owner, to get to grips with this. But of course, the individuals usually want to grow so that they can potentially move somewhere else and advance their career somewhere else, which is, it took me a while to really sort of understand not understand it, but to acknowledge that, but I think it's truth. But we've got to cope with that. And I think the growth is fundamental to what everybody and particularly younger people. Dare I say somebody younger than me, wants out of a job in an agency. And the four sort of cornerstones of growth, I sort of upgrade this the four Cornerstone principle. And there's four cornerstones quickly. And I think, well, one is learning and development. And absolutely crucial and more important now than ever. That what people want from roles. Of course, when I started in agencies all those years ago, I wanted to learn I wanted to develop, I wanted to learn new skills. But this is absolutely, if we don't provide people with learning and development, whether we're a 10 person agency or 2, 3 person agency, 100 person agency, if we're not committed to growing them, and helping them grow, then we're not, they're not going to last very long with us, I see the best agencies I talked to work with, and then come into contact with are obsessed with this and grow that learning and development almost to the point actually, where I sometimes look at it and think you're more obsessed with that than you are the clients. And there is a balance there. But I do see that it does work from that success. So you've got to have commitment to growth, you've got to give people resources in terms of time, and financing courses, or books or whatever they want to do. But I think it is that commitment from the day they walk in your business. So the day they leave, whether that's in six months, or six years, then you've got to be committed to help them grow. And, you know, the vital.
Gareth Healey 13:21
Second one is goal setting and measurement. And I find the better people, the more goals, the more measurement they want. If they don't want the goal set, they don't want to be measured, that tells me a story. And I see a lot of agencies, we're of course, we're used to goal setting. Now that would be KPIs or OKRs, or whatever format you want to adopt. We're used to that. But I see a lot of people setting them but not many people, as many people, monitoring them, and measuring them and working with them. It's easy to set these things and set people with goals. But it's a lot harder, particularly when you're busy with other things, to monitor people and help people work with them and measure them against those goals. So KPIs or KPIs OKRs definitely but not just that, but having clear clear job descriptions actually come into contact with a few agencies recently that have been recruiting without a clear understanding themselves of exactly who they want. So I would say you know, if you don't know how when this person walks into the door, that they know, either what they're fundamentally what their job is about, but how they're going to be measured what they need to deliver. So it's got to be providing that job description. And Robert mentioned this a few moments ago as well. But you know, in small agencies, small businesses in particular, you can't necessarily give people the vision of where they can get to in terms of a job ladder as you can in a big organisation as to what they could achieve in their careers with you. But you can certainly give them a bit of paint them the picture and set them some goals as to where they might get to and where you want them to get to in that business what people need. Thirdly, autonomy. This amazes me every single almost weekly that, particularly people nowadays, young people want more responsibility want quicker responsibility, they crave autonomy. I think that's fabulous. But I also have to stop people. And again, I did it this morning with a client, and then sort of just say to the people, the owners of the agency, give them that because they need that. But please set them some boundaries. And don't just leave them to it. Because people believe often their own hype, and sometimes they don't always live up to it, that often they do, but they don't always learn they make mistakes. So they need that safety net of a manager. And if that's a, somebody has a report to you, as the agency found a fine, or if that's you, and a smaller business, because you are the manager, great. But make sure you set them some boundaries and make sure you monitor them to make sure that they are doing what they say they're doing and doing what you want them to do, and delivering for the clients in particular. And finally, interested in challenge obviously, there will people on interesting and challenging work. And I've come across a couple of instances recently where, you know, people have been quite despondent about this, and our clients aren't interesting. Now, the work isn't particularly interesting or interested in anything else, the quiet door, bog standard clients, and what people want interesting, challenging work. And I think that the solution to this for me is always to look at it ourselves and say, you know, I believe any work can be made interesting. And the key to doing it is raising the bar, raising your own expectations, raising standards. You know, we see quite a lot of sloppy standards, working with agencies, frankly, and, you know, sloppy work feeds no one's ego really not, then it doesn't any certainly doesn't pay the bills in the long term. So if the work and the clients aren't particularly interested in, take a look at their thing, how can we raise the bar, we set higher expectations of ourselves here, so that we can, you know, we can be more demanding of ourselves, and I think that instantly makes work more interesting.
Gareth Healey 16:58
Second piece, for me is recognition. You know, we our society is now sort of conditioned for affirmation and recognition from well, practically the day that people are on these days, you know, we grow up on gaming, and unlocking rewards, every sort of level of stuff we do, and you don't have to be playing games, you can be using apps and banking apps, or whatever the hell it is to sort of get these rewards. So ensuring your team feel valued and appreciated for their efforts is, of course, absolutely key for areas to this and natural remuneration, and pay and package and health care. Of course, you know, that still forms the core of this. But I would steal yourself to make sure that you're not overpaying people, and just paying people to get people in through the door. Because I see that quite frequently now. And I think it's a slippery slope. And I know it's difficult. But I would make sure that you recruited the right level filler, I pay. Appreciation, acknowledgement. This one for me, we were fantastic at this in our agency, I thought we were and this was you know, some years ago now. You're not using sort of apps or various things to do it doing it very personally. But I thought were amazing. But one thing I learned was, you can never do enough of it. Because even though I thought were fantastic. Every time we asked people for feedback, one of the three key piece of feedback that always came back where you need to appreciate and acknowledge there's a bit more and reward and say thank you a bit more. And we were aghast as a management team every time because we thought that we did over and above what anybody could ever do. We were thanking people all the time. But you can never do enough of that. So it's becoming harder to do. Now, of course, I'm not talking benefits here. By the way, I'm talking just you know, levels of appreciate not talking perks and buying things, necessarily. I'm talking about thanking people and talking about, you know, maybe rewarding people but on a sort of framework of it is a reward and the peer to peer recognition, social recognition apps are sort of becoming quite involved now. And peer to peer rewards where you get sort of acknowledgment from your team is cited as being far better than somebody, something from your manager, or your boss, your leader, or whatever you want to say. But I think it's absolutely crucial that as a, oh, agency owners, we continue to acknowledge people and it's harder to do now because if you're particularly if you're working from home, or people are, you can't sort of catch people doing things and doing things well and just pat them on the shoulder or just say a word of thanks because they're at home doing the work. So you've got to work even harder at it. So rewards and incentives. Of course, you know that these sorts of the start about how it's becoming sort of very common for people to list out several awards and socials and what can we give people and there's the sort of social recognition apps like 15/5 work to human and these sort of platforms that can all help.
Gareth Healey 20:03
But I think, you know, for me, the rewards and incentives are our rewards and incentives. And they're things that are not just benefits are not Netflix subscriptions. They're rewarding. Great work, great attitudes, great sort of approaches to things. And then fourthly, in this section, the feedback, yes, people want feedback. Yes, they want appreciation, acknowledgement. But they also want to get to give two way feedback. So I think you need we need to be seen to be listening to people more and acknowledging that their opinions matter. And they've got a voice. And this is something again, that wasn't particularly prevalent during my career in an agency, but it absolutely is. Now, you know, if people don't think they've got a platform to say, what they feel and how they're feeling, and what they believe, you know, the agency should be doing, and then if they don't feel valued, so we've got to give people that two way communication.
Gareth Healey 21:02
Thirdly, it's what I call this sort of experience, which is, you know, the employee experience, CX is becoming a bit of a sort of buzzword now. And I do see it as increasingly important and almost a balance with customer experience, to get the employee experience, right, creating the right environment where people can thrive. And, you know, key to this is, of course, one of the key constants. This is, of course, flexibility. So, you know, we all know that we all know that people are asking for more flexibility, have sampled it, and probably want more and more. And it's something that if anybody was here, thankfully, that didn't know me, when I run an agency, they would think that quite unusual, or they would have a wry smile, because I like to think I suppose the flexibility, but I was a massive advocate of getting people, not only to beat people to people's desks, but getting people in the office, you know, we were the culture and the band, the atmosphere and the banter. And the buzz of having people in the office was a key part of my business. So it for me to embrace remote, working flexible working in the way that I believe I have to do now is a big step. But I'm seeing it as just inevitable, I think it was this week or last week Deloitte have said to all their employees in the UK 20,000 people that they can use, they can work flexibly forever, they can choose if anybody's seen that the news and if delights are saying that as an occur as one of the wild cable and the big four accounting firms with Deloitte saying that, then that's a message to resolve, I think to say that we need to absolutely support that as well in some way. But it is a service business, of course, an agency. So I think we've got to have some sort of framework or an understanding or a plan to make that work, because we can't just as a service business, give people free rein to do whatever they like. Because we are in the business of serving clients. So that's a real challenge. Secondly, a support. And, you know, we all know doesn't mean need me to sit here and talk about well being and particularly mental health, the supports where we can and the structure where we can offer our teams, employees a mental health support when it's needed, or wellbeing, sport, it used to be that sort of stuff, a point of difference, I think it's an absolutely necessity now isn't it which, you know, if we don't have something in place on that whatever size of business we are, then it's absolutely wrong.
Gareth Healey 23:34
And then environment has structure. I'm not talking just about if it's nice to work in a nice physical environment, of course. But it's not just the physical stuff. I think having structure and policies in place and good management, having not just physical environment, but having an environment of course where we are mindful of diversity and inclusion and equality. Even if we're not maybe hitting the mark in terms of our own business and how that is constructed. We are mindful and working towards it and mindful of sort of acknowledging that that's a real issue and something that we are facing us it's been a lot of agencies, particularly the tech guys that are very heavily male dominated Of course, and I think you know that we've got to have an eye on that. And environment does include perks does include benefits, but I always think the best benefits and certainly my own experiences where people value benefits Of course they do but I have massive traction in my business on providing perks but helping people so help making people's lives easier. So we did silly things work a little back in it now but we got car washes to come in and wash people's cars. We got dry cleaning picked up and delivered back to the office. Easy data things that people were weren't for free that people paid for if they wanted the car washed, but the key was that it made people's lives easier. They didn't have to think about it, they didn't have to take their dry cleaning to the place down the road and pick it up and all that messing about. So think the real key is if you're not going to pay for it fine, but at least try and have an experience where every touchpoint, we try and make people's lives easier, so they can make our business better and our business easier.
Gareth Healey 25:19
And then finally, pride. And I think, you know, we're living in a comparison culture, as it's called offer where everybody compares themselves on social media, a lot, particularly younger people, lots of people on social media compare themselves to other people every single day. And like, it translates into work. And we're seeing that people are comparing their job, their agency, their agency profiles with other agency profiles with other agency jobs. And I don't think we can ignore that there's when we need as agency founders to step up and make sure that we build our own profile, and celebrate everything that we possibly can, and make sure that we're promoting our business, not for our own benefits, because of course, it's got benefits for us as a business, but also to help people sort of, you know, point to their business, look what we're doing, which includes, of course, CSR things of giving back, and charity work and volunteering, you know, if we can, even if it's not winning your business and winning awards and growing and we can point to stuff that we are doing in the community, maybe that makes our business a better business than our friends down the pub. And then finally, leadership. You know, leadership, absolutely vital, I'm really pleased to say on that benchmark report, actually, because I think there's often a misspelling, I see a lot of leadership leaders of agencies, of course, I've had to step up during the pandemic massively. And I see many people doing an absolutely fantastic job of that under extreme circumstances. But I think the danger is now that we will not forget all about that. But we back off as the agency leaders, we sort of, we revert to maybe type or revert to sort of not leaving the business and the way that we did during the pandemic, and that would be understandable, provided an a vision, sorry, and an inspiration for people is key. And it shows in those surveys, that's important to people. And, you know, providing inspiration. We're not all natural inspiration people, inspirational speakers, or motivational leaders. So it's got to be done in the right way. But I think it's been around a long time now at the Simon Sinek stuff about sort of start having a why, I think people often see that in the people I talk to as something that it needs to be we're changing the world in some way. And I don't think it needs to build up, for me having a why is about having a purpose, having a vision, having a story or a narrative about why we're here, and commune making sure that everybody knows that and even telling people, we used to get great engagement from people when new people join my business.
Gareth Healey 27:58
And they were new to the business we're about telling them where we came from in terms of where how we bought the agency and why and what were the reasons behind it and the connection that we established with people just by telling them the backstory that nobody that could bothered to tell them, you know, was often amazing. And people took the most out of meetings with the directors have Yeah, I know where you why you did that now, and Gareth told us this and you know, the backstory, but where are we going in terms of not just growing the business, but in terms of what we want to do and what we're about is crucial. And you've got to do that in an authentic way, of course, and lead by example. And as often means showing the human side. So leadership in terms of not knowing all the answers and admitting sometimes you're wrong, or you made a mistake. Just like I'm now looking at this slide and thinking I made a mistake there because it's spelled communication right in the top corner. So we always make mistakes. Are you still with me, guys? Yep. Robert frozen, I'm looking for people not in sorry. Thank you. So you know, we're leading by example. Communication is even though it's when it's spelt right is particularly important. Again, I don't think you can underestimate or shouldn't underestimate the importance of communicating with your people. Even though it's when it's tough, even when the it we're busy, or we're remote working to have community regular communication town are all agents, emitters, townhall meetings, whatever you want to call them. absolutely vital was a cornerstone of what I did in my business, you don't always feel like doing them. There's not always a great amount to say. But I think when you got other candidates consistency of communicating with people in person wherever possible. So I see a lot of people jumping on Slack and emails, of course and saying, oh, we'll do a zoom call. If we can, if and when we can all get together, you know, do these things in person and be as transparent as possible because, you know, transparency gives you that personal connection with people, and builds trust, and not only connects and engages people with the agency, what engages people with you as a leader, and you as the sort of head of the agency, and that's what I think often really motivates people, and makes people perhaps a bit more loyal than they would be normally when they know that they're part of your team as much as they are part of the agency. So that's just a minute to finish. This is a very probably a very old quote on November, the Doug Collins was the Chief Exec of Campbell's Soup, so I'm guessing he's about 70, something years old. So I guess it was again, it was another oldie. But I think it's, as they often are these things quite relevant and prophetic. Now to win in the marketplace, you must win in the workplace, I think it's very important that we try to remember that I'm trying to do our best every day every week to make sure we do provide our teams with the best experience, wherever possible. Thank you for listening in. That was my piece.
Robert Craven 31:05
Brilliant, thank you very much. That's great. No harm to my video. Thank God, I've got a little reserve one.
Gareth Healey 31:11
Sorry, you threw me a bit because I was I just haven't advanced to you. And you were frozen as everyone in the same boat.
Robert Craven 31:16
A couple of questions came in direct to me, but I'm sure that you can take them up. And the first one is one about the tail wagging the dog, which is half puff woke, staff woke employees think they own almost at the point where they're starting to take sort of managing directors, you know, to the court saying you were too friendly with someone else or you weren't friendly enough with me. I mean, do you think there's some sense that it's gone too far in terms of staff thinking that, especially young staff, thinking that they own everything?
Gareth Healey 32:00
But I mean, I can see that. See why you mentioned that. I think it's definitely a theme, isn't it? I don't think as so I would say yes. I'm worried about that. But as agency people, as agency owners, as business owners, can we stop that mentality as a society? Individually, I don't think we can. But the one thing I do think we can do, is be tougher on people. And I don't mean, be more aggressive. I mean, I see people or I talk to that sort of agency owners, and they hate the way they talk about their stuff. And I know they're not as close to them as they shouldn't be in terms of what they're doing. And I know that they there's that people want this responsibility and trust and autonomy. But I think that the key thing for me as an agency owner is to say you can have that, but you've got to be there in the background, monitoring what they're doing, not in a big brother way, not checking up. But I guarantee that these people that have come in most of them that have come in with an attitude of you know, we can run this business in the next six months. It's not true. And they were making, they'll make mistakes, and they will be making mistakes. And if they're not making mistakes, they can improve. And as you as an agency owner, and as a more experienced person ultimately can pick them up on that. And I think that does two things. It sort of it helps them improve that way. She does three things. It helps them, improve them, helps your business, but it stops clients walking out the door because they've not been serviced in the right way. And it also hopefully makes them realise a little bit as an individual as people that you know what, maybe I don't know, everything, maybe Gareth was right, or Kevin was right, or Tim was right in I should have done this in a different sort of approach that in a different way. I didn't realise you had to do that. I didn't realise that report needed to be done in that format. And, you know, so it wrestles some sort of form of a better empower and away from the individual and just makes them wake up a little bit really.
Robert Craven 33:57
Another I mean, not another one of the questions here is how does one actually do this? Do you actually set aside, you know, half a day, a week or a month? Or do you just become part of KPIs? How do you actually do this culture thing?
Gareth Healey 34:16
Well, I think spending time with people depends on the size of your business, of course, but I used to run one to ones with my family. My mom has a big business. So there was an I had sort of too many reports at one stage, but for a long time, but 10 direct reports are one stage to many, but I couldn't possibly reach speak to everybody in my business with my direct reports have sort of one to one meetings regularly and unaided with and I encourage them to do that with their team. And I'm talking regular I'm talking weekly for that time, maybe fortnightly or push but certainly more than once a month. And, you know, I think that those meetings are important because they're important to sort of get face time with people but they're also the key for me is asking questions and asking and not again being big brother and digging around and sort of entity trying to trip them up. But satisfying yourself that they are performing and they're doing what they need to do. And if you get always get good answers and the right answers, that's fabulous. But if you spot something that Oh, hang on a minute, that's not quite how I expected it. There's a next non Exec of ours used to say, don't expect what you don't inspect. So, you know, make sure you inspect thing, make sure you lift the bonnet a little bit, every now and again, and make sure everything's okay. And if it is great, shut the bonnet. But if it's not, then there's the opportunity there to put things right. And again, that's not about chastising people or criticising people, it's about helping them, you know, get improved and helping them grow and just pointing out anger now that this is the way you should be doing this not that's not acceptable. That's not to the standard way to eat or that's not right.
Robert Craven 35:57
Cool. Nice. Tim, Tim Butler's got a question. Do you want to post the question, Tim? I'm sure you're not that shy that you need me to answer the question.
Tim Butler 36:05
You've known me, you know how shy I am don't like speaking up ever. So the question is, how how'd you get the soft benefits to outweigh the benefits? The hard benefits of money? Like higher basic when you're pitching the agency in a recruitment scenario?
Gareth Healey 36:30
Yeah, I mean, that is the crux of a lot of this, isn't it, Sam? That's a great question. I think independents are familiar with your business, sadly, but the size of it, we can't all pay top dollar we can't, as agencies, despite size, compete well, with the big brands, usually. So high a bit higher salaries. I always think that thing we need to be competitive, but can we compete with higher salaries? Probably not. So I always think that it's important to point out some of the things that and sell the business Yeah, as hard as we can to recruit people. But rather than focus on perks, I guess the whole point of my deck was rather than list out the perks, as I've seen people do and say they, you get the x salary, and look at all these perks. If the paint a more compelling story, you know, it's a campaign event. And we're on a mission here that Timbuk was agency to do this, to do that, we want you to be part of it. Because even we recognise you might not be with us in 10 years time, in 5 years time even. But we think you can help, we can help, you can help as a sort of employee. So get us from A to B in the next 12 months, and you'll learn a load, and we'll get a lot from you. So, you know, engage them with the softer benefits, but not Netflix subscriptions, just massaging their ego and being jet and being honest and genuinely say, you know, we want you on board, we're really interested in you as an individual. And I'm really impressed with what you've done so far, and what you can bring to us.
Robert Craven 38:04
So how do you differentiate your employee proposition from anyone else's? Because everyone's saying, look at our ping pong table, look at our dartboard. If we beer on a Friday night, how does one differentiate, especially if you're not necessarily playing that positive game?
Gareth Healey 38:25
But I think that's a great point. But that's the crux of it for me actually just crystallised, perhaps on my whole presentation in one sentence, Robert, because that isn't the employee. If your employee proposition is dark boards and beers and ping pong tables, you know, shut the doors. Don't forget, because that's not actually the employee. Everybody can offer that employee proposition. It's got to be something. And I know You've asked these questions to be provocative and you're laughing, Robert, but yeah, as you know, it's more about, you know, what can we create some sort of mission here and get people engaged in a bit of a journey, and trying to create something. I was with somebody last week, and he didn't have anything grand. But I asked him, why did he start the business? And What's he trying to do? And he didn't have anything groundbreaking to say, actually, he didn't wasn't Simon Sinek sort of changed the world speech. But he just said, I started this business because I was just sick of working with agencies as a client, and they're not doing a very good job and asked that this business to do a better job. And he's hungry, his whole sort of been a proposition around where we're doing better here. And if we don't do better, every single day, that's probably right, because it's impossible, but we aren't we strive to make a better experience for our clients. And therefore all our people are here to try and make our clients lives better, but also learn more and create a better, you know, more compelling agency. And I think that sort of mission is a simple one, but it's something more than just ping pong tables.
Robert Craven 39:59
But I've had three people in the last two weeks come to me and say, I mean, literally, virtually pulling me out of the screen. So I don't believe it, you know, everything, like everything I've done for people over COVID I broken my backside, I've worked the hours in order to, and you know, they've gone down the road for an extra five years an hour or three years, and they've gone down the road. And when I asked them why they've left, it's like, just because they fancy a change or whatever it is. It's almost like, owners are so overworked, you know, so pressurised to keep the business afloat. Now, clearly the staff, you know, they do their 40 hours, they go home, they drink, beers, watch football, or whatever it is. But there's a sense, as you say, about the balance the switch that the employer almost can't do enough.
Tim Butler 41:06
Surely, if people change jobs every four years, for example, you should expect maybe a 15 - 20% churn rate in your staff naturally, right? So lots of people were hunkering down initially through COVID. And so last year didn't see I think most agencies didn't see many people leave, is it that we've got pent up churn, actually, we just need to deal with the churn. Because if we've got 10 people in the agency, we should expect at least two people to leave each year. And if we're expanding at the rate of two, three more people a year, then we're going to need to recruit five people. I mean, we're at the point where we're 18 employees and a few others. And somebody said to me said, Well, if you have 20% churn a year, that's not really very high, you can be expect you're going to need to replace four or five people. You know, what, are you bitching about that to have left?
Gareth Healey 42:10
Yeah, I can say, I have a longer sort of history in this sector than most of you but the you told me a long time to sort of I used to hate it when people left , you know, sort of cutting when people came to the with that white envelope as it did back in the day. But we're probably just an email now. But it may. It never made me happy. But it suddenly dawned on me, it came to terms the fact that people will leave, you know, people won't, there are some people in that business that I box is still exist that actually started before I did in 1999. And they're still there now. So there are people who've got 20 years experience in our business, even when I came in, bought it owned, it disappeared, and they're still there. And I think that's probably a very, very rare now and people with you know, don't see things in that way. So I say you were on a journey with my two year period. It For Me is a sort of, it's not clearly good thing, but is if we can keep people for two years, and get a lot out of them, and they can get out live those. That's fantastic. And keep people for longer than they're still performing brilliant. But if we're 12 months or less, feels a bit, hey, you know what, we've not done a good job there. Unless there's a, you know, people are emigrating or whatever the hell it is. But none of the two years, but people will leave and we've got to sort of come to terms with that and make it easier to recruit replace them. But we've got to sort of face into that and say that, you know, that's how things are these days.
Robert Craven 43:50
So what point does one employ a person dedicated to? Yeah, I'll say wiping the bottoms of your staff. At what point do you do invest in a HR manager, person officer, engagement officer, whatever you wish to call it, someone who's a non essentially, but looking after your staff?
Gareth Healey 44:17
Yeah. I think I've seen recently that this didn't happen with me, but I see recently, people have got sort of got that role in place, but rather than be head of HR, they're more of an operations type director. And you know, that operations person might usually sort of appears or is able to sort of fulfil a role about 20 plus people, isn't it but then when you get to 35 people doesn't demand that you can employ a full time HR person I'm not talking about outsourcing HR policies and things I'm talking about, you know, to me HR these days is yes, there's the technical side of it and the policy, the procedure side of it, and the governance side of it, but there's out there They're the internal market. The good ones are the internal marketing managers, aren't they? They're the people that sort of keep things ticking over that keep people happy. But no, but also listen to people's problems, but also keep on promoting just what a great job and great business we are to work with. So it gets around about usually, for me, that's 30 - 35 personnel more agency of that size.
Robert Craven 45:23
So is there a kind of a checklist or are just quick fixes that you kind of find yourself repeating when you're going into agencies, Gareth, is a sort of stuff that don't believe I mean, another agency and they could have done this, but they haven't. So I'm gonna make a recommendation, they should do this sort of stuff that you find yourself saying a bit too often.
Gareth Healey 45:51
Yeah, it's a good one. What's your employee value proposition? Well, it's pool tables. And we have Friday's off and we do this than the other. There's certainly creating or producing a story and narrative for the agency and having a bit of a cause. However big or ambitious that might be, but having something that engages people as a theme, often talk about values and look at them on the wall in the boardroom and say, you know, do we lift these things? And I think, often our value are very important to leadership they should mean something may have those values, you know, if one of our values is trust, and we should trust people, we shouldn't be talking about this software that monitors people's activity online when they're working from home, as I know, some people, obviously people in this room, but people are talking about that type of stuff. We, you know, so we need to live the values. I also think it's depends on different personalities, different characters that but it's trying to get people out of the mindset of just perks, benefits, socials, I'm not saying that, therefore, stop, we can't employ impossible not to do those things. But I know a few people that are still very much stuck. It wasn't easy ago, when we just used to, you know, Friday afternoon, go down the pub and have some beers and get pissed and everybody used to be happy. And I always say yes, it was but you know, those days are gone. I'm afraid not saying exclusively and we never go to the pub. But in most agencies, people have got different lives, different interests, different locations, don't want to all get down the pub. So you know, get out of that mindset. You know that because if not for everybody, but if you're you've managed to get yourself into a position where you're on an agency, you're probably usually often a little bit older than the rest of the staff. And maybe that's how you got your experience. And you enjoyed that. And I did as well. But accent not same pubs or clubs are gone. Post COVID. But nevertheless, it's not what you can hang your employee engagement strategy on anymore.
Robert Craven 48:24
Cool, nice a lot. So we're slowly coming up to the end of our time or quick to come out to orange of our time rather. Any final questions from the room? Oh, good question. Not specifically people, but we'll go for it. How do you plan for industry change that is coming in terms of cookieless?
You have these people technical, they've been working on you with everything cookie, and now suddenly, everything is changing and you do a plan, like I'm doing currently for the next three years. And also the last session we have here with you, I asked how do you prepare the staff for this? You were because another issue that we found out in these last two days by discussing with my team is that we have another issue that the clients don't know nothing really about the future. So there will be a new learning curve clients to tell them about the future that we already don't know what it is. So I don't think in this three years, we've been like an industry in a bigger crossroad with more unknowns.
Robert Craven 49:57
Okay, Gareth, rather you go first.
Gareth Healey 50:00
Well, I mean, I think it sounds to me that that's maybe an opportunity for you Valen. Because that's something calculus world is an issue that's sort of preoccupying lots of us. But it sounds to me as if you're thinking about it more heavily and more frequently now than then lots of other people are. It's not the conversations I'm having every week, although, you know, I'm aware of it. So I think maybe there's an opportunity, a link in the thing to people, there's an opportunity to create a mission, their story. So that's where we are going. And, again, I don't know your agency name, for example, Valens agency is where this is coming down the line as an industry in the world. Would it be too bold to say, we're going to be at the forefront, or we're certainly going to be one, the first in the queue at balance agency to address this. So you know, come on board with us, and I'm going to teach you and educate you as much as I know, as we learn more, but also, you're gonna learn a hell of a lot at this business, and more so than you are joining an agency down the road.
Robert Craven 51:05
Yeah, I think that's right. I think there are agencies, I know, Fabian, in Belgium, who probably three years ago, was majoring on this. And he literally had a staff of 10 people, he pointed to people to specialise in, what would an agency do in the future? And he's managed to carve out a niche on that thing. And I think, in terms of we are, there's more change going on in agents as never before. I think you're absolutely right. I think it's about it's your opportunity to say, we're in this exciting moving industry, and this is what we're doing about it, and that you can stand for something, rather than be the wait for the platform to tell you what you need to do. You can strike a position. I think the second thing is saying about clients not knowing about it, that's just such a great opportunity to educate and inform if you look at Tim's agency, he's got a newsletter that comes out. And it's always saying, how will the latest changes in Google affect you. How are you going to respond to the cookieless world. So I think it is your opportunity to demonstrate your authority and your experience and your ability to respond to. I guess it's my feeling. Kevin popped into question, can you maybe give an exact dance? What's better than a ping pong table? Because I didn't understand it. Exactly. Maybe it's my English. My values on the wall seems a bit boring, still important, but not attractive.
Gareth Healey 52:52
I had just written a reply, Robert, on the chat. But I guess I met in terms of the values peaks, I was just reflecting on the fact that does not apply to everybody clearly. But I often come across people that have used values as a box ticking exercise feel as if it's sort of just a something that we must have, we must do, let's tick the box, we've got some values, there they are put them on the wall. But they're not really, they're paying lip service to it really, they don't really truly live them. They not that important to them. They're not a reflection of the founders, values personally, or the senior teams values really, they're just words sounded nice. And let's stick them on a wall or stick them on the front of the website and say those are our values. And I think the real to give my pawn the real value in them is when they are genuinely meaningful. And there's something that we do sort of operate and live by, and we're not against ping pong tables whatsoever. Just ping pong tables used to be again sort of harken back and sounding like a dinosaur ping pong tables in an agency over I used to be a massive thing used to be a real player that we used to bring agents, clients around our business and show them the pool table or ping pong. They all refer to it and all that's wonderful. I mean, amazing. But actually, I've been in so many golfers even better. But I've been integrated. I'm not saying we shouldn't have those things. By the way for people. I'm just saying reflecting on noting the fact that I've been in many clients, many, many client environments in the last couple of years, pre COVID that are far better than agency environments, you know, claim environments. This used to be cubicles and desks and people its eyes. And now there's people in call centres that have got more facilities because they've got more money to spend on mini golf, wasn't a great example.
Robert Craven 54:41
I love it. I love the idea of a mini golf. Brilliant. Okay, so we're coming up to final time up. We'll stay on the line for a couple of minutes if anyone wants to continue having a chat, but I think we'll draw the formal part of the conversation to close. Thank you so much, Gareth. So that's a really lovely presentation. I really like the way you split it up into kind of the four strategies growth recognition, experience leadership, and thank you very much for answering our questions and thank you all for attending.