Google CEE Agency Titans 3rd Session Feedback

October, 15, 2015
Author: Liudmila Kiseleva Category: CEE Agency Titans Program, Google, CEO

The 3rd session of Google CEE Agency Titans program took place on September, 24. David Spinar, the former CEO and owner of H1, a leading digital agency in Czech Republic, and now a Googler, spoke on a very important HR topic. The topic of David's presentation was "HR: Making the best people work for you with passion and loyalty".

David's expertise in building strong teams and supporting them along the business growth is obvious - he grew his agency from a company of 4 people to the company of 50 employees in 5 years, and then to the industry-leading agency of 100+ people and 200+ clients in 9 years.

David openly shared his agency success story; here are the highlights of growth factors which impacted David's business: 

1. They wanted to be different and made this the core business philosophy and idea.

2. Focus on custom digital solutions - no selling boxes, no factory approach - neither to clients, nor to employees).

3. No active sales in the strategy - the company didn't have sales people, only RFX team.

4. Focus on people - they wanted great people only and worked hard on becoming the best employer for graduates right from the start.

5. Clear idea on growth options - David and his partners wanted to sell the company one day to a big media group.

David and the team chose the following strategy to build and market their brand:

strategy to build and market a brand

First, they focused on Topics  - the areas where they wanted to become experts. Then came people as the key branding asset and driver. Supported by Influencers (key people in the industry), the company/brand got maximum value from all marketing and PR activities.

David and his company used each and every opportunity to promote the key topics (basically, services offered by the agency) - from speaking on the events, teaching at the university, and publishing books and e-books to speaking on TV and running public courses on digital marketing.

Along this way, David gave special attention to promoting his employees as his brand ambassadors. His team got personal branding on the company website, his colleagues spoke a lot at the events, so it wasn't only David in the news, but rather his company’s experts sharing both burden and glory of showcasing their expertise to the market.

The key takeaways from this strategy for a company leader, as per David, are as follows: 

1. Let your people believe in what you believe. It's extremely important to share your vision and your understanding of both core values and the context to your team.

2. You need to have a very strong vision and a very strong concept behind your business - this keeps you and your team rest assured that the chosen direction is the right one and you all stick to the same goals.

3. Make sure your team is aware of what exactly the company is doing - why, what for and what happens next. Such transparency lets you share common grounds with your people and eases the tension when thighs get boiled.

Apart from the above insights, David gave special attention to his expertise in managing senior people in the company. His key message was to develop senior employees and don't let them feel undervalued. Here are the principles David openly shared: 

1. Don't "reward" top people with more work.

2. Let them get more compared to the rest of the team.

3. Let the do more than their core job.

Eventually, David worked out 3 core roles buckets for his team:3 core roles buckets in team

There's a set of responsibilities, KPIs and rewards for each of the buckets, and there's a clear way of progression from one role to another. This structure establishes a transparent career track within the company and sets clear guidelines for the employees on their roles in the change progress.

For senior roles, David suggests three key roles to progress: unit/department management, product management and key clients supervision. This approach balances workload with personal and professional growth, and builds mutual loyalty between the company and its employees.

On a final note, David encouraged us to run an in-house event promoting key brand values and ideas to the team - I believe we can work something out :-).

 My Feedback

This was a highly valuable session for me as it addressed not only the HR side, but also a bigger picture of building a strong and successful business based on shared values.

My key takeaway from this session that we plan to adopt at IM Action is to make people not just the "core asset", but involve them deeper in the context, so that they become brand advocates and ambassadors (if they'd like to). It is one of the growth cornerstones. This is really motivating.

And we are already moving this way forward: 2 out of 5 Google Certified Trainers in Belarus work for IM Action. Anton and Oksana rock on Google training events, and will be speaking on our upcoming event for exporters.

P. S. ...and I believe we can borrow some of the ideas on corporate rituals that David has shared:-)

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