By Kimi Gilbert, Managing Partner, Future Factory
2023 was a big year for me and the team at Future Factory as were acquired by Ingenuity. Like with all acquisitions, culture is an important topic of discussion. Spending time focusing on how to preserve our own company culture provided me with learnings for 2024.
Culture is a word that gets thrown around a lot, yet it’s widely misunderstood. Ping pong tables and a beer fridge are nice to have but real company culture is about standing for something and creating something meaningful. It’s the glue that holds everything together.
I noticed to retain culture it’s important not to lose sight of your business’ original mission. When Future Factory launched in 2011, the goal was to prove that an intelligent, research-based and more human approach to new business would get far better results than traditional sales ever would. We were focused on recruiting and developing the best business development talent in the industry. And we wanted to create a culture of openness by being the types of leaders who could admit when they made mistakes and do our best to improve.
Twelve years on and all of this is as true as it was when we first set up shop, although the stakes are higher. Getting culture right has never been as important as it is now. Gen Z is far more demanding than their older counterparts (in a good way). They’re not afraid to turn down a job or jump ship if they don’t align with a company’s culture. And particularly in a sales business like ours, where there’s a greater risk of staff turnover due to the nature of the job, culture needs to be done correctly.
Born out of 2023, I have a few revolutions to make happen in 2024 to ensure culture is being driven in the right way.
Every new starter should have time with the C-Suite to take them through the reasons the company was set up and what you stand for. We pair up new starters with partners in the business to learn the ropes and our values. We’re 80+ people across 3 locations and having this touchpoint right at the get-go is invaluable.
A clear path to progression for your team also enhances culture as people know where they stand. By rehauling job specs to make them more thorough, setting clearer KPIs and giving more regular feedback there is more structure allowing people to be clear on what their future looks like.
Transparency is the way forward. Businesses should allocate time for teams to ask business leaders about decisions being made and what the future looks like. We’re going to start doing “Ask Us Anything” sessions every quarter to ensure our teams feel included and heard. We’ll also be conducting employee engagement surveys to track how well we’re doing.
The final revolution, is a renewed focus on knowledge-sharing, as well as investing in external training to boost team skills and give them a better grounding in the relevant industries. There’s a lot to be done but culture is never driven by a single person, it’s a team effort and I’m lucky to have an amazing team around me to help bring about these changes.
I’d like to finish up with a confession: I’m a pessimist. People are often surprised to learn this, perhaps because I’ve learnt to hide it well. When I was 10, my parents even bought me a self-help book called The Power of Positive Thinking. This makes me chuckle as it’s an incredibly American approach to child-rearing, as well as proof of what a weird kid I was.
Yet despite being a “glass half empty” kind of person, I can’t help but feel incredibly optimistic, hopeful even, about the year to come. Our industry is resilient. We’ve weathered the 2008 recession and a pandemic. It’s tough out there but there’s a lot to be thankful for.
In times of uncertainty, it’s easy to focus on the things outside of our control. Instead, we’d be better off focusing on the things we can control, such as enacting real change within our organisations by making culture a focus for the year ahead. So roll on 2024 – I have a feeling it’s going to be a good one.