If your team is going to spend 40+ hours a week working for you, you’d better make it a good time. Here’s King Kong’s Sabri Suby on infusing the right team culture – and why everyone in Australia’s fastest growing digital marketing agency ended up in Bali.
There’s a myth that business success comes from putting your customers first. That might work when you’re a startup, but if you want your business to grow, your team is the most important thing to get right. Hire good talent, treat them well and give them a reason to be happy when they step into the workplace and they will look after your clients for you.
If you’ve secured talent with the right skills and attitude and they’re well compensated but still not firing like you know they can, you might be missing the X-factor that helps them gel as a team. Scaling while retaining the culture that brought you your initial growth and success can be difficult, but there are a few ways you can grow without losing your mojo.
Making it onto a list like Australian Financial Review’s (AFR) Fast Starters two years in a row,or winning an award without acknowledging your team’s contributions along the way, is like taking home a Grand Final trophy without cheering each goal or celebrating each winning game all season. When you’re in a fast-growing business it’s easy to grind on without looking at the scoreboard, but it’s important to recognise wins and celebrate them together.
On a small scale, we focus on success regularly. Every Monday each division has a team meeting where they review the past week, noting where we’re going, how we’re tracking, and what we can do better as well as highlighting recent success. That way we’re not only transparent about what’s going on in the business, we can attribute our progress to respective team members.
For major wins, we make sure the whole office knows it. We have a massive Chinese gong in our office and when a new client comes on board, we hit it. We also have a cowbell we ring when a client gets a new lead or a first sale, or their new campaign goes live and their first lead comes through; we celebrate our clients’ wins, because they’re ours too. If you’re busy at your work and a gong or a bell goes off and there’s a standing ovation in the office, you’re going to stop for a moment to celebrate that win. It brings people together.
A lot of people think a fun workplace is about beanbags and breakfast, but if you zoom out you’ll realise that your team spends 40+ hours a week together at work – that’s more time than I spend with my wife and daughter – so they’re going to smash it if they enjoy coming in.
It starts with the people you hire. Yes, they should be really good at what they do, but they need to be able to get along as a team. I want everyone in the office to come to work looking forward to seeing their team.
And the team that plays together, stays together, so on the first Friday of the month we finish at midday and go have fun, whether it’s a team lunch or laser tag.
Invest in your team
So, if you’re doing things right, you’re celebrating small wins and working towards some big targets. How are you going to reward the team if they hit those?
Last year when we reached our goal I took everyone – from the heads of department to the admin team – to Bali for a week. I won’t lie: it cost a lot of money. It wasn’t just the travel expenses, but everyone’s salary and the lost revenue of no one being around for a week. And this year we are all going glamping – and we will be doing it big!
But I want to say you can’t afford notto invest in your people like this. Not only does it rally your staff and serve as team motivation, it means people want to stick around and help you succeed so you kill it with great retention rates.
Investment also goes beyond fun rewards: you need to support your staff in their careers as well. Team members should be able to see a future for themselves in your business, which might look like further education, more responsibility or honing their leadership and management skills. Investment is a long-term thing and by investing in your team you’re telling them their future is bright if they stick with you.
With the culture we’ve grown and the right structures in place to scale I know we’re ready for the next 12 months. I’m looking forward to doubling headcount once again – and taking the team to Thailand.
Sabri Suby, founder of King Kong.