That's a wrap
Every year as we race towards the year-end finish line, it feels like another 12 months has passed in the blink of an eye. It’s why I like to take time out to look back and see what we’ve accomplished, what we’ve learned, and what we can share that might help others too. And this year has been extra special, as we head towards our ten year anniversary.
Here are some of the changes we’ve made, and lessons learned in 2021:
Moving from HR to Talent
While we’ve always recognised the value of having a team of people with aligned values, this year made me realise how much the mechanics of how we do this is changing.
It seems most industries have already felt the impact of the Great Resignation, and it was no different for us at Connected. While we had some of the team move to other industries, we also had new roles to fill to accommodate our growth. We’ve been fortunate to find some fantastic people to join the team in a competitive market, but it’s also made us re-think our approach at the same time.
In a subtle yet not insignificant switch, we’ve decided to bring on a Talent Partner in our team to help us continue to hire with aligned values in mind and develop our team. The switch from HR support to in-house Talent Partner reflects our renewed focus on creating a strong culture that can withstand whatever changes come our way.
Managing burnout and exhaustion
I don’t think anyone needs reminding of how exhausted we’re all feeling after the past two years. But one thing we found we did need reminding of is the importance of taking a break. With travel off the cards and nowhere to go, it’s been easy for work to seep into our down-time and quickly lead to burnout.
Taking our learnings about this from last year and seeing the impacts across the wider digital marketing industry, we’ve been extra conscious of the signs of burnout. To avoid this, we’ve been encouraging the Connected team to take proper breaks, we’ve ensured workloads are balanced across teams, and we’ve implemented new flexible work practises that are here to stay. On top of that, we’ve had regular team building activity such as the Amazing Race, Murder Mystery night, Mt Kilimanjaro charity relay and Zoom offsites when working from home.
Changing client needs
This year we’ve had several clients impacted by lockdown, staff movements, and changes in customer spending. As a result, they’ve been seeking more strategy and advice from our senior leadership team.
In response, we’ve expanded our consulting services to now combine strategy and creative as well as execution and performance. We’ve also re-worked our business model to ensure our clients get more access to expertise from our leadership team. It means we can help fill any gaps in their marketing team and provide end-to-end value creation to optimise performance.
Welcoming new clients
While we began the year with plans to grow the business through pro-active new business efforts, we continued to grow through word-of-mouth referrals. We’ve since switched focus to onboarding and setting the foundation for performance success. Working in industries including ecommerce, financial services, education – and more – we’ve started work with 12 new clients and have continued our charity partnership with Forever Projects.
Nailing our positioning
For the first time since founding Connected almost a decade ago, I was able to carve out solid time to work on the business this year.
We began the year working with Nathan from Customer Returns to nail how we talk about our business and how to articulate the value we bring to our clients. He’s helped us clarify who we are, what we do (and don’t do), and what makes us different. We found the experience invaluable, particularly when having discussions with potential new clients and partners.
Being a Google Partner, we’ve also had the opportunity to work with a business coach to help get our entire team focused on common goals. Using the Wildly Important Goals framework, I can already see the renewed focus within the team and the impact this is having on performance.
Our plans to overhaul operations continued throughout the year as we began rolling out our Salesforce solutions across the business.
We’ve completely switched our processes from manual to digital, streamlining internal processes from quoting, to operations, to reporting. It’s helped us internally from an accounting and business performance management perspective but importantly, also helped our clients. Our onboarding process has been made easy and we can also provide powerful reporting of results with customised dashboards. It’s helped save a lot of manpower that we can now spend on insights and strategy, which is exactly what our clients want.
There’s been a few other exciting developments such as entering our first ever Industry awards (and becoming finalists) and taking the first steps to build our brand-new office, but if I had to pick a highlight, it really comes down to the people I get to work with every day.
So, thank you to the Connected team and our amazing clients for getting through another roller-coaster year with persistence and positivity.