People often ask me if I’m going to have more children (I have 3 year old Frankie and 1 year old Beau) and I say, my family is big enough with my business and employees being my other children.
When you spend 40 hours or more a week together it’s important that you enjoy the company of the people you work with. I’ve found that by applying some basic family values you can keep your team driven and engaged in the business, improve staff morale and increase your ROI.
At Straight Up PR, we prioritise the fostering of relationships and building of communities internally and externally. This is the essence of what PR is all about, but also this sense of belonging and connection is a human need, much like food and water. Feeling that you belong is how we place value on our lives and has been linked to the improvement of motivation, health and happiness.
It was important for me that we built a culture that felt like a family – supported and safe, a place to really be yourself and excel at your dreams. I’ve worked at other agencies where it hasn’t felt like this and I dreaded going to work, often feeling sick to the stomach and hating Sundays. I didn’t want this for my team.
Here are some of the principles we apply at Straight Up PR so that we don’t see work as a chore, and as a result, we genuinely love Sundays!
Build Relationships with Mutual Respect
I treat my team no differently to how I treat my family and friends – our relationships are built on mutual respect and care for one another. This doesn’t mean work standards slip – it’s the exact opposite actually. I’ve noticed that the more solo responsibility I give to my team to really apply themselves and hold themselves accountable then I find that they thrive at their roles. I’m not into micro managing and believe that we are all adults so should be able to self-manage and ask for help when it’s needed. I absolutely expect a certain level of work and dedication to their job, and my standards are high, but my team know this and because we have a good relationship they don’t want to let me or the team down and they want to do a good job for themselves too.
Genuinely Care about the Individual and their Happiness
The little touches are what make a difference – I’m empathetic and genuinely care about how my team feel and what’s going on in their lives. A lot of employees couldn’t care less, and I don’t get this. I include the girls in my life outside of work – they come to my kid’s birthday parties and are known as their Aunties. I acknowledge their birthdays, special moments in their life and we celebrate achievements both in and outside of work. If they want to do a pilates or boxing class during work hours, they can. If they need a mental health day, they can take it. If they need to get their car serviced or hair done, they can do this too. I show my gratitude where I can and in return they do the same.
Don’t Compete or Compare
I have seen the not so nice way women can be to other women in the work force. We live in a world where women don’t celebrate other women’s successes enough, and feel in competition with each other. Some (not all) compete, compare, undercut and undermine one another. In my experience, I found this to be the case as I was a young professional and successful at my job, and other women didn’t always like this and instead would cut me down to make themselves feel better. I managed this by addressing this head on with the person and with open communication. I was determined not to let this get me down or impact the good job I was doing. I knew in my heart of hearts that their behaviour wasn’t a reflection on me, the work I was doing or the person I was – so I stayed true to my why and remained strong and in my lane. I learnt a lot in the end by how I was treated by some of these women. I learnt the kind of leader I didn’t want to be and as a result now run a successful business with a group of colleagues who love their job and feel appreciated and worthy every day. All things I didn’t feel at times, but now hold them as some of the most important attributes to a job.
Communication is Key
We work in the communication industry so you would think that we would be pretty good at this, and I must say at Straight Up PR we are – it’s one of the skills I look for when employing people. As basic as being able to hold a conversation and ask questions sounds, to a lot of people this doesn’t come naturally. So, if you want to work with us, you’ve got to be able to have friendly banter. We host so many events and we’re always networking and connecting with people that speaking is a big part of the job. Aside from this external skill requirement, it’s important that we keep the communication alive and well internally too. We all need to feel like we are on the same page and host regularly WIP (work in progress) meetings, casual catch ups and are all in a phone message group where we share updates and insights daily (or three, four or more times a day!). Since we don’t always work from the office together and do have the flexibility to work from home, cafes, parks, and wherever we need to get the best out of ourselves, it’s essential that we are in touch with each other often. It’s almost like that best friend of yours who you haven’t seen for ages but when you do it feels like there’s been no time in between. I feel this way with my team. There may be days that go by where I don’t see them, but because we are in constant communication, when we do see each other we always just pick up from where we left off.
After five years in business, I feel blessed to now be in a place where I have a solid team who are family to me. We refer to each other as family and I like that. It hasn’t been easy finding the right mix of staff to achieve this, as it really comes down to personality and attitude and the simple fact that some people don’t see the value in work life integration and would prefer to keep the two separate. For me, I’d have it no other way and feel immensely proud of my immediate and work family and can’t wait to see more greatness come out of our team as the years unfold.
“Speak to your children as if they are the wisest, kindest, most beautiful and magical humans on earth, for what they believe is what they will become.” – Brooke Hampton