Is Your Digital Agency Team Empowered to Make Decisions?

By Jason Swenk on February 1, 2021

Does your team come to you for every little decision? Not sure how to empower your employees to take more initiative? A lot of agency owners find themselves in this frustrating position. There’s actually an easier fix than you think. The answer may be as simple as setting a clear vision.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • How to build a cohesive agency team.
  • How to create and fulfill your agency’s vision.
  • How important are core values during an acquisition?

Today I sat down with Luke Kempski, president and CEO of JPL, a marketing communications agency based out of Harrisburg. Luke started at the agency 30 years ago as a production employee and took over the agency roughly 15 years ago. He’s here to talk about some of the mistakes he has made along the way and how he has created a team that supports the agency vision.

How to Build a Cohesive Agency Team

When I asked Luke about some of the mistakes he has made at JPL, one of the first things he brought up is his team. Luke says when you run an agency, you have to be careful about creating hard lines and segmenting departments. Instead, you want everyone on the same team, working towards the same goal.

When you divide goals and incentives by department, you inevitably create competition. While a certain level of competition is healthy, it becomes a problem when it interferes with the agency’s goals as a whole. Luke says he uses profit sharing based on the agency’s profits (not each department) to incentivize his team. This way, each department is more apt to work together instead of against each other.

How to Create and Fulfill Your Agency’s Vision

Do you have a clear vision for your agency? If not, you’re not alone. Luke says it took him about 5 years before he realized he needed to create a vision his leaders could follow and buy into. One of the main reasons so many agency owners put off creating a vision is they don’t know where to start. The truth is, it’s a lot easier than you think.

When your team knows and believes in the vision, it will be easier for them to make decisions without you.

Luke decided to look at multiple resources to create his agency’s vision. Not only did he involve his team, but he also talked to his clients. Luke meets bi-monthly with his team regarding initiatives and progress. Every two years, the agency brings in a third-party to interview the clients about what they expect from the agency, what their experience has been, and how JPL stacks up compared to other agencies the clients work with. Luke says this insight is invaluable because it gives the team a different perspective and makes the agency’s vision less arbitrary.

How Important are Core Values During an Acquisition?

Core values and vision go hand-in-hand. To grow as an agency, everyone has to be on the same page. This is easy when you’re building your own agency, but what happens during an acquisition? Do core values of the two agencies have to align?

Having gone through several acquisitions, Luke says there does need to be good alignment between the two. When you’re bringing creatives together, it can be difficult to find cohesiveness and build collaborative relationships. The more your values align, the easier this process will be.

Your success as an agency will be based on the strength of your team and their ability to follow your vision. But your team can’t do their job if they don’t know what the agency’s vision actually is. When you take the time to create and share your vision with the people in your agency, you’ll find everyone’s job becomes a lot easier.

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