Smart Agency Podcast: The #1 Digital Agency Podcast for Social Media, SEO, PPC & Creative Agencies

Is your growing team in need of more structure? Do you feel like you're too caught up in the little stuff? Or does the small stuff turn real big, real fast? Too often, as owners, we hesitate to give up any sort of control out of fear. The truth is, when you are willing to delegate and bring in support, you free up time to focus on your agency's growth.

In this episode, we'll cover:

  • Does your team have the tools to succeed?
  • Is it time for your agency to hire an HR person?
  • How transparency builds trust with your team.
  • Do you need to learn how to trust your leadership team?

Today I sat down with Ben Askins, owner and managing director of Verb, a full-service agency based out of London. In the six years since Ben has been with the agency, Verb has gone from a project-based structure to a retainer-based model. The agency has subsequently grown from a small team to a team of about 65. Ben's here to discuss how he keeps such a big team motivated and what he's doing now to make sure they feel comfortable about the agency's future.

Does Your Team Have the Tools to Succeed?

Any good leader knows, your team is your biggest asset. So it makes sense, if the team is unmotivated or disorganized, you're going to have a problem. Ben says one of the best things his agency did was create an HR department. Here they were able to develop their brand pillars and create incentives to keep their team motivated.

While individual programs like peer-to-peer recognition and limelight awards help build morale, one of the biggest investments has been in manager training. Ben says, no one ever sits down with you and tells you, "this is how to be a manager, this is how you train, and this is how you can increase morale." So, when it comes time for annual reviews, there's a disconnect between what the manager expects and how the employee thinks they are actually doing. Verb devotes half of their training budget for the employee to spend on enrichment programs of their choice and half on what the manager deems necessary. This helps everyone be on the same page and allows for self-improvement and re-investment.

Is it Time for Your Agency to Hire an HR Person?

Not enough agency owners recognize the value of a strong human resources presence. While we often look at HR professionals as paper pushers who deal with insurance and employee discipline, HR is actually a vital part of any organization.

Think about it this way, as an agency owner or CEO, you may have two, three, or even four layers between you and your lowest level employee. This makes it hard to know what's going on in your agency. Something may start as a minor problem, but by the time it gets to you, it's too late. The purpose of HR is to sort out these problems and identify them before they become something bigger.

So when is the right time to bring in HR? Ben says if he could do it all again, he'd bring on HR as soon as there was more than one layer of seniority away from the team.

How Transparency Builds Trust With Your Team

Like so many other agencies and businesses right now, Verb has furloughed several members of its team. And while this is never easy, Ben says one of the things that has really helped is transparency. Everyone at the agency has complete access to the business financials.

At a time like this, there is no benefit to hiding information. Your team needs to make decisions just as much as you do, so knowing a layoff may be coming can help them prepare. The same goes when you hire people back on. When you support your decisions with margins, your managers can better understand your decisions and what benchmarks they have to meet. Margins become less arbitrary, allowing your managers to appreciate these guidelines are designed to promote agency growth, not pad profits.

Do You Need to Learn to Trust Your Leadership Team?

Bringing in HR and being transparent only go so far if you are constantly being a toll booth for your team. I've worked with many owners who think everything needs to go through them for approval. Give your team autonomy and let your managers run their departments. When you do this, you'll have time to focus on growing the agency and doing the things that will help your agency succeed.

Trust in yourself and the team you've built. When you do this, you'll find everyone is more motivated to help the agency continue to grow.

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Direct download: Is_It_Time_to_Hire_a_Human_Resources_Role_for_Your_Agency_Team_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am MDT