How we’re building a strong inbound marketing team at Blend

Sean Sweet

Sean Sweet

May 27, 2016

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We've always known that having a team of committed and dedicated people would have a direct impact on Blend’s success. Developing the right culture helps us recruit and retain the best marketing minds and makes work a rewarding place to be.

Knowing is one thing. Achieving is another. Thinking about what makes a good culture helps us focus on the real priorities.

Companies with great cultures have several things in common:

  • They employ better people, more quickly
  • Their people feel empowered and take more responsibility
  • Employees promote and evangelise about their employer
  • There’s a collective pride in the company and its products and services
  • Attrition rates are much lower.

Blend is no Google or Facebook; we couldn’t compete with those enterprises. But we can strive to create a culture better than those in our space.

Here’s how we’ve geared ourselves to create a culture worth preserving:

We focus on our roles

We want each and every team member to feel important and valued. We create positions that focus on specialisation first.


So far this has had a dual effect:

  1. Selecting successful candidates is easier because we can test specialities and use the results to evaluate the best applicant comparatively
  2. Specialisation, by definition, means that other team members have to lean on the
    employee for specific knowledge and skills, improving self-worth and building confidence.

We value each position

Every team member we add brings something special to our business. We only hire when there’s a definite need, and we take our time to find the perfect person.

The value we place on each role directly affects the way those already working here feel about their position. If we care that much about the new roles we’re recruiting for then, surely, we must value them just as much!

A sense of purpose helps the entire team take collective responsibility for outcomes and joint responsibility for failures. Much better to have everyone working together to solve problems than working against one another, pointing fingers.

We strive for transparency

Collective responsibility also encourages better communication within the business. And better communication leads to greater transparency.

The following have really helped our communication:

  1. Slack, the instant messaging service. Everybody loves it and it's created an open line of communication for the entire team who can segment discussion threads around clients, subject or even nights out.
  2. Jira, team collaboration software. We manage our work using an agile methodology, supported by the Jira software platform. It really helps everyone know what is being done, what's coming up and work completed.
  3. A daily stand-up. Each morning at 9:30 we each, in turn, share what we’re working on and what may be standing in our way. It keeps everyone in the loop and provides an opportunity for collaboration and support when it’s needed.
  4. Encouraging shared views and opinions. Expecting shared responsibility for outcomes means accepting and encouraging everyone to voice opinions while maintaining the authority of the ‘expert’ in the team.
  5. Regular social activities have played an important part in the building of our team. As with any evolving culture, while this began as organised events by the company, nights out, BBQ’s and pub sessions now tend to be arranged by individual team members.

Keeping lines of communication open and uncomplicated directly benefits the team and, as a result, the client too.

We celebrate success and have some fun

In some companies, there’s an attitude that because staff are paid it’s all the recognition they need. It creates a negative culture because the reaction tends to be, “fine, I’ll do my work and no more”.

There will always be failures and hard times in business. But celebrating successes brings everyone together and encourages the team to strive to be the best, take pride in the work and support one-another.

It’s not just successes that we can celebrate; birthdays, milestones reached and personal achievements are just a few additional things that can add the glue that bonds our team.

We also introduced a football table which has been a huge success. Spending extended periods in front of a computer screen is not great for the health. Now we all have a good reason to get away from our desks; there is healthy competition and plenty of banter as well.

A positive environment makes for a happier workplace.

We recognise that growth could threaten our culture

As a small business, we know that our culture is delicate and easily disrupted. Growth is the biggest threat to the happy environment we’ve created. How we could grow further and protect the team spirit was an important consideration when we were planning how to expand.

This is what we knew:

  • Adding more expertise means there will be inevitable overlap in knowledge – this could breed competition, we’d have to make it healthy
  • More employees could lead to internal politics – we didn’t want that
  • Communication could become more fragmented the larger we became – we would need to maintain manageable team sizes.

The reality of our business meant that most clients would only need support from six key areas:

  1. Strategy
  2. Copywriting
  3. Development
  4. Social media
  5. Design
  6. Account management

If we built our teams with these elements, we could maintain clear communication between everyone. Each team member would continue to play an important and valuable role within the group, and the team structure could be replicated as new clients came on stream.

It’s not a new concept but this solution would work well for us. Each group, otherwise referred to as a ‘hive’, could cope with some client accounts. New hives could be added to support the growth we anticipated without damaging our high culture.

Great people will attract more great people

Individuals who are good at their jobs want to work with similar people. Having an excellent team not only attracts better calibre staff but also deters those who may be looking for an easy ride.

Part of growing a great team at Blend has been our determination to hire some outstanding people. We want people to help our boat go faster; there is no room for those unwilling to work hard.

Conclusion

We can’t dictate our culture but we can encourage the right environment for it to develop. A clear vision of the type of company we wanted to be and then planning how to achieve it, has helped us on our journey to become a place great people want to work.

We are always looking for additional people to bolster our team and details of the roles we recruit for can be found here: https://www.blendb2b.com/jobs/

If you, or someone you know, would like to work in a positive and rewarding environment then please get in touch.

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