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‘Ping Pong and snacks do not make a culture’: Klick Communications’ Kim McKay

Mumbrella's Abigail Dawson speaks to Klick Communications founder and director Kim McKay about winning big at CommsCon, why too many businesses confuse perks with culture, and why it's important not to work with assholes.

What has been the biggest change for you since winning PR Employer of the Year Mumbrella’s CommsCon Awards in 2017?

Winning this award for the third year in a row was not only a surprise, but a boon for business. My number one role at Klick is to recruit and retain the best people, so the big change? This has made my job easier.

In your opinion, what are the ingredients to being a good employer?

The thing great employers and leaders understand is that people bring their entire self to work. They don’t just turn off what is happening outside and bring in a sanitised “work” version of themselves into the office. Learning how to train, manage and coach people in all areas of their life will have the most significant impact and will, in turn, deliver you the most outstanding team members.

Klick Communications’ Kim McKay says: “A good culture is one that creates an environment that highlights peoples strengths”

As an agency leader and employer, what is most important?

Most important (for me anyway) is the desire of those around me to grow both personally and professionally. They need to be curious and always demanding opportunities to grow, change and excel. With this mindset everything else can be taught. It’s also important not to work with assholes.

How do you implement and then sustain a strong agency culture?

Implementing a culture is done with clarity and conviction around what the expectations and signature behaviours of the team will be. Sustaining that is the role of every team member to hold themselves and each other accountable. I think too many businesses confuse perks with culture. Ping Pong and snacks do not make a culture, nor do they make anyone accountable for living up to the expectations of a strong culture. A culture needs to be built around the ‘Why’ of your business and translate easily into signature behaviours that are demonstrated in all interactions.

What makes a good agency culture?

A good culture is one that creates an environment that highlights peoples strengths. Giving individuals the chance to continually demonstrate their unique abilities and not be compared to others in a cookie cutter environment will deliver a team that are focused on what they are good at. When this happens, internal competition is diminished and your skill set is embraced and utilised by the entire team. This level of teamwork will ensure an agency culture stands apart.

If you could give one piece of advice to other agencies striving for a strong or improved culture, what would it be?

Three things are needed for any culture to improve or thrive: Clarity, Consistency + Communication. Leaders need to have clarity on the expectations they have for their team and their business, that needs to be consistent in action and continually communicated. Your culture doesn’t sit in a handbook on a shelf. Oh and one more thing: recruit those that fit will thrive in your culture – not everyone will. Choose carefully

What have been some of the challenges you’ve faced leading an agency?

Too many challenges to count! The big one for me personally, is aiming my efforts with a laser like focus. Knowing where to apply my own strengths and make the big moves is the challenge that I focus on, making sure I’m working on the most important and impactful area of our business.

What importance does winning and entering awards have on the culture of an agency like Klick Communications?

We place huge importance on winning agency and culture awards. We know how great our business is but being recognised for your work is always, always a great reward.

Looking to 2018, what are your goals?

Our goals are BIG. But it wouldn’t be Klick if we weren’t striving to change ahead of the curve. We are focused on creating and rolling out big changes in our structure and internal systems. We’ve always been a small team and that has been our strength. Into 2018 and beyond small teams will make the biggest impact. We are creative, smart and nimble. We have the ability to scale up if needed and our partners value these traits in the business landscape we are currently in.

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