If you believe your agency’s culture is critical to its success, what can you do about it?

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

Marina Lumley and Libby Child

In June of last year, we asked 30 agency leaders, from 15 countries the question - to what degree is agency culture critical to its success?

Not surprisingly, 100% of respondents agreed that it was indeed a key driver of agency success (93% strongly agreed,) but it became clear that how these leaders were defining and then managing their culture varied significantly.

Michael Watkins facilitated a discussion on LinkedIn asking for definitions and quickly received over 300! The short piece he wrote in the Harvard Business Review is well worth a read.

Perhaps the best and simplest definition is that it’s “The way we do things around here”, but that also means culture is well…everything. It sums up the internal health of a business, how it really looks and feels like to work there.

Culture can be a source of competitive advantage and a driver of improved performance. It can be defined, it can be measured, and then it be actively managed.

But is Culture just about the people? We asked the leaders what they believed were the factors which drove their culture.

They answered the people – and so they saw investing in capability and skills, empowering employees and ensuring team work, as important cultural drivers.

But, somewhat surprisingly, most did not rate the company’s vision, mission and direction as being key. Less than half of agencies believed it drove the culture of the agency. And ways of working were even less important, with only 25% of leaders suggesting that reaching agreement and effective decision making was important to success.

Culture is more than the people who work in it. It is the way that they work, the sense of direction and vision they have. It is how they learn and adapt as well as how they reach decisions. It is the style in which they manage and are managed.

Managing Forwards: Why shaping culture drives future success

Metrics of profit, growth, employee retention, client satisfaction are all useful scorecards, but they are measuring what has already happened.

Measuring culture means you are measuring the proven drivers of overall performance-those aspects of corporate behaviour proven to drive business health. And so it enables you to manage forwards- to put in place actions which will improve your agency’s future business success.

Your Cultural Future

Ask yourself whether, within your agency, you have: -

1. A common and shared understanding of culture

2. The metrics in place which measure your organisational culture

3. An up to date diagnosis of your strengths and weaknesses

4. A plan to change what matters most

5. Commitment to action

6. And to measure the impact

During The Drum Network’s next Business Jam event on Tuesday 24th January in London, Greengrass will be holding a workshop to explore how you can influence your culture and shape the future of your agency. So, if you think you could know more about your current culture and should be doing more to drive its health and strength, come a long and join in the discussion and debate.

This workshop event is FREE to attend for members of The Drum Network, so what have you got to lose? Click here for more details and tickets.

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