Why your team, not your customers, should be number one.
You can’t eat noodles with one chopstick and a piano can’t play itself. In the creative industry, you can’t build your business and service client relationships without the right team to support you.
Look after your team and your team will look after your clients
Building and maintaining relationships with your clients takes time and effort but if you don’t find the time to work on nurturing and building relationships with your employees, it’s unlikely that they will work to the standards you expect and certainly won’t look after your clients the way that you do.
One way or another you will probably part company, leaving you to have to focus on recruiting rather than running your business.
Get it right from the start
As with any relationship, you need an initial bond and connection. You will be spending hours each day with them, often more than with your own family, working late and working through stressful situations.
Make sure that you employ staff who share your passion for your business, who understand your vision and who genuinely want to put in the time to get to know your clients and ultimately treat them in the way that you sometimes feel only you can.
Appreciate and incentivise
Who doesn’t thrive on praise and encouragement? Bosses who scream and shout to push employees may get short term results but will likely have a high staff turnover resulting in clients lacking consistency and being unable to build the trust required to move forwards successfully. The client may also start to question your ability to manage your team.
To incentivise your staff is fine, but incentives are transactional, and results driven. You need to combine this with appreciation as this recognises their hard work and how they have achieved their success and the effort they have put in, not just what they have achieved.
You and your goals
To set up and run a business, you have goals and aspirations that you work hard to achieve. You give task lists and set deadlines for your employees and expect them to meet these to keep up with the pace of the business. It’s all about what you want. But what do they want?
They will have their own goals in their work life and as a boss, take time to find out what these goals are and work out a plan so that you are both achieving and therefore both happy. This should be a two-way relationship if you want to get the best out of your staff and help them to grow and develop in their role.
Let them see that you are human
Don’t just bury your head in your business. Look around you and see where your team is at. Is there a weak link? Can you sense ill feeling or despondency? Hit things head on and don’t let it fester. Keep the channels of communication open and create an environment where they can come to you in confidence and with confidence.
As you need to understand your client and always be on the same page with them and communicate almost daily, do the same with your staff. They have a life outside the business, take an interest in their twins and 3-legged dog as this will make them feel that you value them as people and not just as a commodity.
If you have created a strong ‘family’ with your staff and given them responsibility and autonomy with the clients, this will encourage them to build their own, important relationships with them.
You can’t manage everything so you are effectively training your team to reflect how you work, to treat the clients as you would and to take pride in your business that you have worked so hard to build.
As Richard Branson once said; “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to”
Gayle Carpenter is Creative Director at Sparkloop. Two of Gayle’s founding clients were Red Bull and The Prince’s Trust who she has managed to retain for 15 years.
The Power Of Team Culture