Commercially-aware team

Do you wish your team had a more commercial mindset?

Do you wish your team had more commercial awareness? It’s a powerful boost to any business if its team members are not only skilled and motivated but also grasp that the enterprise needs to be profitable and that their actions can make a difference to that.

But many businesses never achieve anything close to that. For them, it’s hard enough to keep generating new business, keep satisfying clients, keep managing projects, keep scheduling resources and keep finding and retaining good employees. That's more than enough to bother about without worrying whether the team understand the commercial implications too. Yes?


Having a commercially-minded team

So is it possible to achieve employee business awareness in a practical world and an extremely busy environment like an agency? Without having to run training courses?

Steven Clark, the Finance Director of branding and design agency Tayburn, implemented Synergist and discovered that it did indeed have an effect on their business culture.

How? Everybody can see exactly where their project is up to. They can see the implications of a missed deadline, or over-servicing, or a delay in getting client approval, and so on. Their project is suddenly seen not as an isolated piece of work but a contribution to the business itself. Steven says:

“It gives so much more knowledge to the account directors, for example. It’s increased the financial knowledge to non-finance staff tenfold.”


Top-down or bottom-up?

Very many successful companies are finding that a bottom-up approach involving real employee engagement is more effective that top-down directives. How can Synergist help this to happen? It’s because using the system lets everybody see their own project’s progress, who is involved, what the next steps are and how their own decisions make an impact.

This level of business culture change is normally notoriously difficult to achieve. We all hear of so many top-down company initiatives that simply don’t trickle down at all.

Sara Blannin, Finance Director of ECUS, told us how they avoided that:

“We have a growth culture here. Before Synergist the drive for growth would mostly come from the top, but now it’s more a part of the culture across the company. It’s having the data to make better decisions that, in turn, help growth happen. We couldn’t have made such a shift without having the infrastructure in place.”


Treating each area as a business

To so many people, doing a job can feel like being a tiny cog in some great wheel that is invisible and unfathomable. One solution is to use a project management system that makes it easy to plan for small teams.

Phil Robinson, Founder & CEO of search agency ClickThrough, told us:

“[Synergist] has helped us change our culture. [Our FD’s] job has become more strategic, and people are empowered to run their own departments like proper little companies now.”

Steven Clark says:

“We give transparency to our teams, so they have the information they need to manage jobs properly. Today, designers, art-workers and account managers are knowledge workers, even mini-entrepreneurs, for us. The days of them doing isolated tasks in the dark are over.”


Career acceleration

Usually the greatest lack of commercial awareness is with young people joining the business.

But young people can learn fast. They respond well to seeing that they are an active part of something.

Says Gary Winder,

“You have to encourage people to progress. When consultants become managers they sometimes don’t like to let go and delegate. That’s a constraint on growth. Synergist helps: The manager can delegate and see that everything’s reassuringly under control, and it helps them see their area as a business, making their priorities and decisions clearer.”

Phil Robinson said:  “When young graduates join us and work on small clients, the data now lets them be strategic. They understand the money side of things right away.”

Says Steven Clark: “You could say that Synergist is a career development accelerator.”


The results

Peter MQueen, Finance Director, Mediablaze said: "Compared with where we were a few years ago regarding commercial awareness, financial controls and processes, and maximising profit potential, we are in great shape. Synergist has played a key part in that from a project management perspective. The platform is central to everything we do. Without it, we wouldn't have had the level of success we've had."