The owner of a 25-person digital agency in the Western U.S. reached out after two of his employees had quit. He was concerned that other employees were thinking of quitting, too—but he couldn’t just ask them.
What I Did
Concerned there were underlying concerns that went beyond individual employees, I ran a custom version of my Employee Culture Survey. In the anonymous Culture Survey, I asked employees, key contractors, and recent former employees about what’s working and what’s not working. I also got feedback about the leadership team, including their strengths and weaknesses.
In this particular situation, I learned that the largest concern was around the lack of a career path with the agency. Not having a defined career path was fine when the agency only had 6-8 people, but now the agency had grown to more than 20, and everyone wanted to know what their next step was. If they didn’t see a next step at the agency, they started looking elsewhere.
The culture survey also showed me that many of the employees didn’t fully understand the agency’s new positioning and direction. Some employees were unclear on even why the agency chose their particular niche and specialization. These were topics that were clear to the agency owner from our conversations—but he hadn’t made sure his team understood his rationale, too.
Ultimately, the Culture Survey provided a lot of insight into what was going on at the agency—and what employees were thinking but not saying to the agency owner.
After completing my analysis, I shared my findings and recommendations for next steps with the agency’s owner and executive team. I then scheduled time to visit the agency’s office in person for two days.
During the onsite work, I led a lunch-and-learn training for his team on improving their client relationships. After the training, I shared highlights from the Culture Survey, reviewed my recommendations for next steps, and set the stage for the CEO to share his plans. This showed everyone that he was taking action to improve the business and employee situations. I also led workshop sessions with members of the management team, to help them solve some of their most pressing problems on team structure and services.
Results for the Agency
The agency has stabilized and employees are seeing the results of their recommendations. Employees get regular status updates on the company’s new strategic initiatives to act on the culture survey results. The agency owner received an acquisition offer, but decided that he would continue running things for a few more years, to sell when he’s ready.
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