Our MD Adrian is often asked how he manages to create such a great culture here at Blueleaf and how he keeps the team motivated. Here's a few insights into how he's grown and developed Blueleaf from working alone in the back bedroom of his home, into a multi-skilled, loyal, award-winning team of over twenty based in a smart new HQ. It's been written many times, but people are the most important part in a business, so why is it that so many companies brush over this crucial part? As an owner of a Digital Agency the predominate focus for me is making sure we get the right people on board, we look after them and that we all focus on the company road map. So how do we do it here at Blueleaf?
When you go on holiday, you know where you are going, what time you are leaving, what is needed and who to involve. With business, we need even more clarity yet so few have it. A map is essential, but what does it entail? At Blueleaf, we have created a vision of what the future will look like and therefore it was easier to create a map of how to get there. As MD of the business, and Captain of the ship so to speak, my role is to guide the team and steer in the right direction, ensuring that when we are knocked off course we ALL know the way to correct the steering. The captaincy is driven by our primary question -“What would the best Digital Agency in the world do right now?” This is a mantra, self policed by all and written in huge letters on the wall as a visual reminder. It’s a statement that drives all of our actions towards doing the best we can.
2 – What’s my primary question?
Once clarity within the business is achieved, it's then possible to spend time with each of the team individually to ensure they know where they fit within the big picture. It can be pinned down to an individual's primary question such as “What would the best Creative Director in the world do right now?” and each person in their role can answer this with their own thoughts. Since this was introduced at Blueleaf, standards have risen, accountability has increased and ultimately the business has ramped up significantly. This is because each of the team members know what they are doing to make a difference in the overall objective of the business.
3 - Gaining new team members
Now we have a plan and a team of people on board championing the cause, we now need to recruit more team members. Over the years we have tested various routes for recruiting the right people and we find that this one works the best for us - in its simplest form, because we care about the person that we are meeting, we aim to figure them out so we can see if the role we have is suitable for them. There is a big shift in thinking here, which makes a world of difference. It’s not about having a role to fill with someone; instead it’s finding out what the person really wants and if the role we have is right for them.
4 – Do I know my team?
Do you really, really know your team? Where are they most passionate, and what is it about? Is it work-related or is this a different personality than when they are doing something else? How do you know if they are not feeling quite right, if you don’t know them? I spend time every single week with some of the team. It isn’t just the heads of department, it can be any team member.
At the start of the year, we spent time meeting with each person and asked them to share their 3 words that they plan to focus on for the year. By gaining an insight into the 3 words, it was then my role to listen to what their rules are for the words. Do they make it hard to achieve success or easy? For instance if they say 'Focus' is a key word for the year and their rule is that they must stay focused all day, is this easy to achieve or hard? Of course it's hard, and therefore likely to bring about a feeling of failure – even on day one.
So here’s the cool thing. The team get to write their own rules….the rules of what they want to achieve. If it’s 'Focus', then why not have a rule which is “Every time I focus on one project at a time, I feel great" or “Every time I switch email off and focus I achieve more.” These simple rules allow the individual to succeed, many times in a day and therefore start to feel great about themselves, which in turn generates better outcomes for all. The 3 words of each individual are highly visible in our office so that everyone can help and support each other along the way.
What are your three words, and more importantly, what are your rules linked around achieving success on multiple occasions every day?
It's focusing on things like this that Adrian believes have led Blueleaf to achieving Investors in People Gold Standard (only 1% of businesses awarded IIP achieve this level) and Employer of the Year in the 2011 Cheshire Business Awards.