Digital moves fast. It's difficult to hire good people quickly. So, what do we do about it?
It was my pleasure to host a roundtable for senior digital and marketing leaders discussing the challenges of structuring digital teams and maintaining culture whilst scaling at pace. These are my key takeaways from the evening.
Since the needs of the business flex as you scale, it makes sense that the digital team's structure will do the same. However, this is easier said than done when it comes to recruitment. How do you hire for now, but still bring in talent who can deal with what's round the corner - identify the Mr/Ms Rights rather than the Mr/Ms Right Nows?
Many digital teams are seeing increasing movement from silos to cross-functional teams in the OKR framework. This is Silicon Valley's approach to goal-setting, used by Google, Amazon, LinkedIn and Twitter to create organisation-wide alignment and facilitate rapid growth.
With digital teams increasingly expected to deal with anything from automation to performance marketing, it makes sense to hire flexible people with an aptitude for learning who are prepared to tackle the breadth of what digital can throw at them, rather than striving for a perfect skillset whose relevance might expire in six months.
If and when attrition does occur, regard it as an opportunity to reassess what the team needs, instead of automatically hiring into their space.
Given it can take 3+ months to hire a good person, one attendee also highlighted the importance of partnering with a good agency to ensure these decisions are made to the extra-tight time frameworks which a growth environment inspires.
Onboarding At Pace
Scaling at pace means a lot of newbies, which throws up complications. Not only do these members of the team need to be got up to scratch with how the team functions, but they also need to be brought into the values of the organisation in a way which feels authentic.
In a study carried out by Rungway, over half of employees in the UK can't recite their organisation's vision. The report demonstrated that, though senior leadership generally strongly believes in an organisation's values, this drops off from middle-management downwards.
Furthermore, one attendee raised the complicated relationship between values and diversity. The downside of strong values is they have the potential to perpetuate a homogenous culture – particularly in founder-led businesses, where hiring can sometimes remain focused on "people like me." This is bad news for businesses in every regard - companies that champion inclusivity consistently deliver better customer service and perform better financially.
Interestingly, the same Rungway study found that whilst 39% of UK employees surveyed want to be more involved in contributing to the vision and values, this proportion rose to 74% in IT services. Involving individuals across the organisation in discussions about what your values mean in day-to-day is an opportunity to foster greater engagement, whilst ensuring that your values remain flexible enough to deal with the organisation as it is in the present day.
This is further important as the historic values of an organisation need to be negotiated when driving a digital-first culture across the whole organisation. It's difficult to not get bogged down in the quagmire of legacy behaviours when operating at pace, so flexibility is key. As one attendee put it – "if your company purpose is right then that can live on. How you achieve it may move on."
Millennials and Gen Z
Values-led thinking is particularly important when appealing to millennials and Gen Z, who are purpose-driven and expect a less hierarchal workplace environment than previous generations.
Their entrance into the workplace has shifted the dynamic, not least because they enter it as "digital-natives" – sometimes with more inherent knowledge of digital channels than those above them who are shaping the strategy. These individuals are used to holding multiple roles and eager to learn, but are also demanding more of their companies.
One attendee suggested that engaging with this new workforce is about shifting the mindset from hierarchal engagement to a two-way relationship, with each person owning their responsibility to bring 50% to the table.
Lucie is the coordinator of the Driving Digital roundtable series is and Digital Marketing Recruitment consultant at La Fosse. If you'd like to learn more about the meetup, or how we advise on recruitment and hiring processes here at La Fosse, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 02079321645.
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