A group of people pose together on an outdoor patio balcony

Building a People-Centric Culture

As Bell­mont Part­ners has been nav­i­gat­ing record-break­ing growth — we’ve grown more than 60 per­cent over the past three years — one of the pri­or­i­ties we’ve been focus­ing on is ensur­ing our agency’s pri­or­i­ties and needs align with our team members’.

As if on cue, a few weeks ago the Minneapolis/St. Paul Busi­ness Jour­nal (MSPBJ) ran a roundup of insights from lead­ers of Twin Cities adver­tis­ing and PR agen­cies, includ­ing me, on how we’re mak­ing sure we have the right peo­ple in the right seats.

My response? Inten­tion­al com­mu­ni­ca­tion. It’s been real­ly impor­tant to check in with each per­son on our team reg­u­lar­ly, eval­u­ate the role they’re play­ing and adjust accord­ing­ly. “We do our best to align what our indi­vid­ual employ­ees are most pas­sion­ate about with our agency’s broad­er needs,” I said, “Whether that means shift­ing client team roles, mov­ing some­one from one prac­tice group to anoth­er, or adding an agen­cy­wide respon­si­bil­i­ty (like lead­ing our data and insights work) to their plate.”

But that’s just one part of the puz­zle. For us, pri­or­i­tiz­ing putting the right peo­ple in the right seats is an authen­tic part of a broad­er phi­los­o­phy we embraced when we began build­ing a team back in 2011: cre­ate and main­tain a peo­ple-cen­tric organization.

We’re obvi­ous­ly not per­fect, but we have been mak­ing deci­sions aligned with that strat­e­gy for the past 12 years, and our hands-on approach to align­ing indi­vid­ual and agency needs is one of the pri­ma­ry rea­sons behind our agency’s success.

Last sum­mer, I gave the keynote at Next­Up Twin Cities’ “Men Who Get It” event and out­lined three approach­es I believe any-sized orga­ni­za­tion should pri­or­i­tize. They con­tin­ue to hold true today, espe­cial­ly as we con­tin­ue to assess and improve our process­es in order to sup­port our peo­ple-first philosophy:

Flex­i­bil­i­ty: Our lead­er­ship works hard to prac­tice ser­vant lead­er­ship, and one of the key ele­ments in mak­ing that work is by embrac­ing flex­i­bil­i­ty. We had a flex­i­ble, work-from-wher­ev­er-and-when­ev­er pol­i­cy for years before COVID, for instance, which made it much eas­i­er for us to tran­si­tion to vir­tu­al, and now to hybrid. And because we are a small­er inde­pen­dent agency, we’re more like­ly to try new things to prob­lem-solve – because we can.

Col­lab­o­ra­tion: This is the most com­mon word that keeps com­ing up when peo­ple describe our agency and peo­ple. I strong­ly believe that the fact that we have mul­ti­ple voic­es is a key to our suc­cess. Our lead­er­ship is gen­uine­ly inter­est­ed in hear­ing people’s per­spec­tives. What should we do or not do, how should we do it? That was true when we were five peo­ple. That’s true today when we’re 25. And it will be true tomorrow.

Invest­ment: Align­ing work and life – includ­ing our men­tal health – is a major pri­or­i­ty. We make deci­sions based on what’s best for our team, and not the bot­tom line. We’ve sac­ri­ficed prof­it for our peo­ple over the years, but it’s paid us back again and again. One of the ways we put that approach into action is with our Bell­mont Gives Back pro­gram, where we pro­vide hours dur­ing the work week to vol­un­teer for orga­ni­za­tions that have par­tic­u­lar rel­e­vance for our team mem­bers. Last year we spent about $250,000 worth of time in the pro­gram, which aver­ages to more than a week and a half of vol­un­teer or pro bono time per person.

And I would add one more impor­tant ele­ment that both sup­ports and is the under­ly­ing rea­son behind the flex­i­bil­i­ty, col­lab­o­ra­tion and invest­ment we’ve embraced: empa­thy. Lead­ing with empa­thy and a mind­set of grat­i­tude build the foun­da­tion for every­thing else.

So how do we know we’re on the right path? There are a few met­rics that tell us we’re head­ing in a pos­i­tive direc­tion: Our agency has been named a Minneapolis/St. Paul Busi­ness Jour­nal (MSPBJ) Best Place to Work for the past four years, and an Inc. Mag­a­zine Best Work­place for three, all based on employ­ee feedback.

And per­haps most telling is the fact that in four years, our turnover rate has been zero. Over that peri­od, not a sin­gle per­son has left the agency – for any rea­son. I’m excep­tion­al­ly proud of that, and of what we’ve built together.

I’m for­tu­nate to be part of this amaz­ing team. Here’s to 2023!

Leave a Reply

A woman tends to a flower garden
Greener Living: Bellmont Partners’ Top Five Sustainability Tips of 2022
December 30, 2022
Bellmont Partners Gives Back 365
November 21, 2022
What's Brewing designed graphic with coffee cup and headshot
What’s Brewing? with Jack Sundstrom, Chief Product and Marketing Officer, Kevari
November 18, 2022
Five Lessons Ant-Man and Ted Lasso Can Teach Marketing Pros About Fundraising Events
November 14, 2022
Two women sit in a lounge chatting
Q&A with Bellmont Partners’ New Account Strategist, Stacey Robertson
November 7, 2022
Two women sit in a lounge chatting
Q&A with Bellmont Partners New Senior Account Executive, Amy Moon
November 2, 2022