people first

Put Your People First to Be Successful

If you have ever worked with me, you’ve probably heard my philosophy:

People. Then process. Then product. This should never be in any other order.

Why should your people be first?

If you don’t put your people first, everything else will fail. People drive process. And, if you think about it, your people are your product. It’s their ideas, their words and their art that you are selling to clients.

If you get the people part right, making them your most valuable asset, the output you deliver will be over and above anything you’ve ever imagined.

On the other hand, have you ever worked for a company that was constantly changing, but the changes only lasted for a short time before everything went back to the way it was before? That happens because people weren’t put first. (And because they had the wrong leaders in place.)

Visionary Richard Branson said, “It sort of should go without saying — and it’s surprising that it still doesn’t go without saying at some companies — if the person who works at your company is 100% proud of the job they’re doing, if you give them the tools to do a good job, they’re proud of the brand, if they were looked after, if they’re treated well, then they’re gonna be smiling, they’re gonna be happy and therefore the customer will have a nice experience. If the person who’s working for your company is not given the right tools, is not looked after, is not appreciated, they’re not gonna do things with a smile and therefore the customer will be treated in a way where often they won’t want to come back for more. So, my philosophy has always been, if you can put staff first, your customer second and shareholders third, effectively, in the end, the shareholders do well, the customers do better, and you are happy.”

How do your put your people first?

Value them.

As an employee, there is nothing more demoralizing than feeling that you are replaceable, just a number.

As leaders, it should be one of your top priorities to make sure your employees feel valued and appreciated.

Be generous in praising your employees’ strengths. That includes recognizing them as a part of a high-performing team and recognizing their work as individuals. Then, and only then, will you be able to discuss their blind spots, because you have shown them they are needed and they belong.

Of the tips for valuing your employees that Lolly Daskal shares on Inc.com, one of the most rare is to trust them. Give your employees responsibility and refrain from micro-managing them. Let them rise to the challenge and prove to you and themselves that they are more capable than anyone knew.

Listen to them.

Every good relationship includes effective communication between both parties. The best leaders ask their employees how their experience could be better, listen to their responses and take action to make improvements.

Consider creating an employee survey, holding a company meeting or creating an online form for anonymous responses. Your team members need to feel heard in a safe space. Only then will you find out what is most important to them.

Keep them informed.

Every team member must be well informed to make them a more valuable asset to the team and overall mission. When there is too much secrecy and a lack of transparency, human nature takes over and negativity runs rampant. This leads to disconnect, half-hearted effort, agency gossip and rumors.

When you are open with your team about challenges and future plans, there will be no fodder to discuss around the water cooler.

Train and develop them.

Investing in an employee’s development conveys that you see them as valuable to the company and you want them to excel. This increases their job satisfaction and loyalty to the company.

An added benefit is that you are improving your employees’ skills, which translates to higher quality work.

I will elaborate on this topic more in next month’s post.

It cannot be said enough that an agency’s greatest asset is its people. Put your energy into your people, and you will see your company prosper.

What is one thing your organization currently does to invest in its people? Send me a message on LinkedIn, Twitter or email me at kimberley@kf-strategies.com and let me know.


At KF Strategies we specialize in helping creative agencies maximize profits through process refinement. Whether it’s software, training, or personnel development, KF can help you get the best out of your resources.

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Kimberley@kf-strategies.com