The late Austro-American wasn’t arguing for the avoidance of strategy. I like to think Drucker’s view was that no matter how impressive your organisational plans may appear on paper, without the support of a buoyant culture, populated with motivated, happy people, making it come to life is going to be one tall order.
As well as fuelling strategic vision, organisational culture is similarly a prerequisite to breathing life into organisational values too. Chalk + Ward make our living helping clients oxygenate their own vision, so, we understand our obligation in not losing sight of ours.
As a team, we knew we had a good culture and values, but each of us welcomed the opportunity to reaffirm and refresh our philosophy and to take it to the next level. Gemma’s skilful, process-driven facilitation created a safe space for an abundance of debate and discussion with every agency member having their say.
Finally, the team established three values that succinctly capture the Chalk + Ward way, while also tapping into the character of team individuals. We agreed on Genuine, Strategic and Creative.
As far as living and breathing this level of integrity, there was no retrofitting required, because reliability and trustworthiness were already pillars for the agency. What the exercise helped us to do was to sharpen our focus on the things that matter to us.
Next, the team made sure to double down on the adage that ‘values should be in the people not on the walls’ and in the next part of the session we focused on how to implement them in the day-to-day.
Culture and staff wellbeing emerged as our key priorities.
As a direct result of Gemma’s dexterous guidance, the willingness of our directors to continually evolve and the enthusiasm and ingenuity of our team, here are just a few examples of what we have made happen since.
Smelling the roses
Whether it’s the confirmation on an exciting new project, success stories and positive feedback from our existing clients, a new creative project, inspiring new business opportunities or a piece of work reaching its zenith – it’s our convention to share and celebrate the good news across the agency.
We get out and about
Whether its lunches on the lawn, coffees on the green, power walks around the town, Friday night drinks on our sunny balcony, or planned activities like canoeing, cycling, or team barbeques – we make sure our energy and spirit aren’t confined by the agency walls.
Each team member has been gifted with a custom-made Chalk + Ward voucher book containing a set of lifestyle benefits such as meals out, coffee with colleagues, lie-ins, learning opportunities and so on. Each voucher is hand signed by our Managing Director Robert Chalk, who promises to ‘honour the bearer’, with the fruits of each coupon.
Wellbeing Coordinator Barbara Chalk has helped us reshape our physical space. Every room in the agency, without exception, has been re-purposed for maximum cosiness, creativity, and practicality. For example, our old samples room has become a space dedicated to enabling us, as a team, sub-set, or individual to step away from the workflow into a neutral, comfortable, egalitarian and relaxing space, furnished with creative resources. Work talk is banished, allowing for reflection, tranquil conversation and the absolute absence of anything resembling a pecking order! We affectionately refer to our demilitarised chill-out zone as ‘Switzerland’.
We’ve even been recognised externally for how great our agency culture is, winning Employer of the Year 2018 at the Devon and Cornwall Venus Awards.
The team are connected to our core values, because, they mirror their own values. We all play our part in ensuring that Chalk + Ward is a great place to work because we understand that positive agency culture places us in the strongest possible position to deliver the very highest standards of service and achieve the very best business results for our clients.
That’s why on Wednesdays, we wear pink.