Our culture revolution: Part 16 – Our journey to becoming a transparent agency

Posted by Luke Kyte
Last updated 31st January 2019

We’re just a normal agency. You may own one. You may work for one. We’re ticking along nicely, picking up new business and growing at a good pace. The team size has upped from 1 to 20 in five years, with plans of reaching 50 by 2021. Everyone seems happy.

But we want more.

Day Zero was the launch of our manifesto. Its aim? To revolutionise our culture, attract amazing talent, and be recognised nationally as a great place to work.

Over the course of the next few months we’ll be taking you to the heart of Reddico, sharing our highs, our lows, and our eureka moments. We’ll be honest and open about everything. What works. What doesn’t. Whether you’re here for inspiration, to watch us fail, or out of sheer curiosity, welcome along.

No hours. No managers. Rules set by the team. Let’s see what happens next.

Transparency in any business is key to achieving a full team buy-in. Without it, there are always question marks.

What is every pound the company makes spent on? Are overheads actually THAT costly? Do the owners take home a sack full of gold every month?

In many businesses, you’ll never find out those answers. Accounts are locked up, privy only to the privileged. Talking of finances becomes taboo. Everyone avoids the subject like the plague.

Why?

If everyone in an organisation is better educated on the money matters, and understands what happens to the cash coming in, wouldn’t they be able to make more informed decisions and help increase profit for the business?

Of course, there is a prerequisite. The team have to care about the business. Or, as long as they’re getting their salary at the end of each month, the chances are they won’t give two hoots about what happens to the rest.

We’ve turned around the fundamental concepts of the business to try and promote a real sense of caring from the team for Reddico. We want everyone to be working in the best interests of their team and the company.

And now we’ve achieved (or at least we hope) this, we’re in a position to give more responsibility to the team.

Transparency in our manifesto

Transparency is a major part of our manifesto, released in 2018 and available in full for you to read.

To quote the manifesto:

“At Reddico we want as much information as possible to become open, with the exception of any personal or disciplinary matters. This includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • Company financials
  • P&L and balance sheet
  • Client NPS scores & feedback
  • Internal NPS score (feedback won’t be anonymous)
  • Performance feedback (feedback won’t be anonymous)
  • Team impact votes & feedback
  • Holidays
  • Expenses

It’s important that everyone has an understanding of how the business is doing, be that good or bad.

The intended result is that everyone is well informed of the key financial dynamics of the company and are conscious of the effects of what they do and the role they play in creating profit.”

Opening up the numbers

Numbers make a business go round. Yet many companies don’t share the all-important figures with a team that can make an impact.

As a habit, we’ve always been transparent on revenue. Every quarter we hold a Reddicon event – which includes a company update, followed by fun and festivities. As part of the update we provide the current revenue figures and information on whether we’re ahead of, or behind, our annual targets.

We also have something called the Reddico pound.

This is a simple pie chart, slicing up every pound we earn into all the areas it disappears to, including:

  • Wages
  • Tax
  • VAT
  • Training
  • Marketing
  • Recruitment
  • Rent & rates
  • Software
  • Staff entertainment
  • Profit

However, we wanted to break this down even more.

That’s why we’ve decided to introduce a monthly P&L meeting, run by the finance team. Initially, the whole team had a briefing on how Reddico operates from a cash perspective. We then worked through an exercise prepared by the finance team to try and calculate various costs.

This opened everyone’s eyes to the bigger picture, and what really goes on behind the scenes.

Going forward we’ll be holding these monthly P&L meetings to look at exactly what was spent where, and, as a team, identify ways we can save and make money.

With profit being a significant part of the annual retreat spend, and set to play a role in how much is available for a future profit share we’re looking into, the team have even more reason to be invested in the success of the company.

With this level of transparency, you begin to create a team of psychological owners – the most productive, passionate, determined, motivated and profitable people.

Creating a more effective feedback loop

Away from the numbers, we were also keen to create more accountability in the team. We had been using the much loved NPS system for a while, but often only spoke to key account stakeholders about the scores themselves.

By changing the way we earn the annual retreat (hitting a world class NPS – previously it was revenue based), it was time to open up the results and feedback for everyone to have access to.

This is regardless of whether the client was a promoter, passive, or detractor.

We hold monthly client performance meetings to:

  • Review the previous month’s performance
  • Provide an update to the team on next month’s plans
  • Highlight any issues or achievements on the account
  • Update how confident we are on the client’s happiness

When the NPS is sent at the end of the quarter, the team receive real-time updates for each response. The plan is to have this and more on screens around the office going forward.

Nurturing our internal feedback

In the same way we send a quarterly external NPS, we also have our internal sendout. This is structured in the same way, based around the question of:

How likely would you be to recommend Reddico to a friend?

As always, 9s and 10s are promoters, 7s and 8s and passives, and 6 and below counts as a detractor.

Two years ago our internal NPS wasn’t looking too healthy. We had numerous detractors and there was a genuine concern that a number of issues were affecting people’s happiness at Reddico.

That’s one of the reasons why the manifesto was created in the first place. We had materialistic benefits for the team to enjoy, but that wasn’t enough to create the amazing culture we wanted.

With all the changes over the last 12 months we’ve finally achieved what we set out to do – acted on that feedback, handed responsibility to the team, and created a culture of trust and freedom.

And that’s evident in our latest score – 94. 15 promoters (9s and 10s) and one passive (8).

We also felt it made sense to stop having anonymous feedback. In the past, we’ve not been able to address issues directly with the team, but by making it non-anonymous we can pick up conversations and make sure we’re able to resolve problems as they arise.

We’re trying to create an honest and open environment and believe people will tell us the truth – so aren’t afraid that this change will limit any constructive feedback.

Our team impact award

Every three months we all vote for the person who has made a real and meaningful impact. It’s a highlight from the update and something we all look forward to.

In the past voting has been kept secret, but again, in an age of transparency, a small and subtle change allows everyone to see where the votes went and read the supporting comments.

It’s an extra detail that gives real insight into why someone was voted for – and great for the winner to see too. Plus, even if you don’t win there are usually positives to take away.

It makes you wonder why we kept it hidden to begin with.

What’s next?

With our monthly P&Ls set into motion, we’ll be able to report back on how successful this level of transparency is in a few months time.

Next up though, we’ll be looking at management in the company. With a clear aim to eliminate middle management and micromanagement, we’ve adopted a system that allows someone to choose their own coach.

In fact, we no longer have managers.

Check back next time to find out how we were able to adopt this approach and what we’ll be doing going forward to ensure people have the right skills to lead.

Posted by Luke Kyte