Sally Henderson
Powerful change from the inside out




Imagine your business if every person in it behaved as your best people do? 

I love helping people love what they do at work.  It’s the best thing in the world when I see clients to go from frustrated to thriving, stuck to fast-tracking success and transform from being on auto-pilot to being connected and inspired by their world.  And I am on a mission to reach as many people as I can to stop wasted potential, missed opportunity and stalled careers / business growth.

Through my work as an Executive Mentor, I quickly see in creative organisations the impact of missing out on real engagement with their people.  What do I mean by this?  Imagine your business if every person in it behaved as your best people do?  How would your performance increase, your creativity flourish and your profit soar?  Yet the sad reality is often people are getting by on autopilot, looking for that greener grass and not fully engaged or committed to where they work. And the craziest thing of all is that it needn’t be this way!

Too often people development and leadership growth is THE MOST UNDER RESOURCED part of an agency, yet ask any creative business what’s your best asset and they will all say our people.  I know, it confuses me too!

Creative agencies are missing out on maximum performance and engagement with their people because:

·      People problems and challenges are not proactively addressed. Direct line managers don’t posses the people skills or management confidence to call things out and manage them well once they have if they do. Why? Because they have probably never been well trained on this in the first place, make mistakes, get burnt and in kicks the path of least resistance via the avoidance strategy

·      Reviews in creative agencies are often ineffective.  Dreaded by all as a time sucking beast and seen as only massive admin exercise or the only way to get a bonus or pay rise

·      Career planning and succession planning mainly happen by default, luck, bad luck or, only as a result of being poached by the competition. (Counter offers rarely last past 6 months in any case)

·      People in leadership positions have lost access to the full fire inside them as the more they have successfully climbed the ladder the further away from their passion and natural talents they have become and no-one is pro-actively recognising this or addressing it with leadership development or what I term ‘healthy challenge”.  A lot of assumption is made around senior folk and career development due to the misbelief that senior = sure, especially when it comes to personal needs and investment

So, how can we expect to access the full potential talent has to offer a business if creative agencies often aren’t getting the basics right?  From my work, I have seen people gainfully employed who are 20% engaged and motivated yet are left to fester in the culture because no-one wants to open the Pandora’s box, unless forced to.  And by that point things have often gone past being salvaged. The business then has a much bigger performance challenge to solve requiring more money and investment than if they had proactively worked with the need in the first place.

Based on the insights I have gained from my past recruitment experience and current executive mentoring focus, here are a few ideas how you can connect with your people to take performance from good to great, and keep it there.

1.    Understand your people well in the first place. Take the time to work out what motivates your key people and create development plans that meet these needs.  (Motivational Maps is a great tool and approach to achieve this)

2.    Invest in leadership development so your leaders are confident in their own skills and abilities to lead others effectively

3.    Recognise and reward contribution.  People like, and need, to feel valued at work. Do you know what this means to your key talent on an organisation, team and individual level?  Does one value a bonus yet another would rather have extra time to invest with family or a passion outside of work? Or does one need to see the impact the work is having in the world yet another craves more personal brand recognition for their contribution? Investing in gaining this crucial knowledge will save thousands later on as your recruitment costs go down, staff retention goes up and the agency culture/employer brand improves as talent is more effective and fulfilled

4.    Put in place internal mentorship and coaching programmes to transfer knowledge and vital agency EQ, around values and purpose.  The more your people are connected to your “Why” the more emotionally invested they will become and the more they will willingly give of themselves

5.    Measure performance effectively. How will you flag up what the difference is between “good” and “great” in your organisation, and motivate people to strive for it, without a base line to compare performance and contribution against?  How will you know when performance is thriving over stalling outside of commercial indicators (which often only show up well after the rot has started to set in).  And bear in mind one company’s high performance expectation can be another base entry requirement so stop making assumptions when new people start that performance DNA is the same!

We all are the masters of our own destinies and the experiences we have at work, and in life; so, let’s commit to bringing out the best in ourselves and others and not settle for less.



Sally Henderson is an International Executive Mentor helping aspiring creative organisations and leaders achieve greater results faster. Or put another way it’s my mission to make sure we all feel great to do great at work.  We can all achieve this so let’s stop tolerating less.