Welcome to another Going. Ahead. With Gage interview! I had the privilege of interviewing Annalise Coady, President of Twist Mktg. She was recently moved into this position having spent nearly two years overseeing W2O Group operations in EMEA.
I hope you all gain some valuable insights and enjoy the read!
What are you doing to ensure that W2O Group is at the cutting edge?
Being focused on our clients business challenges, encouraging inquisitive thinking and partnering internally and externally is how I ensure we remain cutting edge.
This means developing approaches and solutions that are focused on our clients, their business and challenges, and what they need to do to be successful now and in the future. We need to be their partner in navigating the ever-changing business environment we’re immersed in today thanks to rapid digital convergence.
To me, the starting point for sales – be it for established clients or new prospects – is always to be consultative. We have great products and services, but we find the greatest traction from being problem-solving first, solutions-oriented second. I always encourage the team to take this approach when tackling a brief.
We have to challenge the status quo, ask questions, and test current theories and orthodoxies to determine the right counsel. To do this you have to establish and fundamentally encourage an inquisitive environment. We’re not hierarchical, everyone needs to be able to question and challenge assumptions to remain relevant, and we encourage this discussion to take client engagement to the next level.
No one person has all the answers, so we actively encourage partnering within the W2O family and beyond to ensure we’re bringing the best thinking, solutions to solve our client’s business problems – some that they know about, and others that we don’t even know about yet!
Thinking of your most successful current employees, what characteristics do they share?
I think our successful current employees share the following characteristics. They:
- Enjoy and strive for success for their clients, team, company, as well as themselves. They take pride in all that they do and strive to be experts in their areas of focus.
- Are in inquiry mode, always asking questions and challenging the status quo, but in a respectful and constructive manner that makes the sum of the parts considerably greater than the whole.
- Tend to be self-starters who are great team players, with an edge of competitiveness that drives them and the team further.
- Are highly collaborative, supportive and respectful of one another, colleagues, clients and partners – and time! Doing new things in new ways can be hugely time intensive, and we need to deliver to closely-scrutinized budgets as well as innovate.
How do you empower your employees to do their best possible work?
Empowerment comes through ownership, so I actively encourage employees to take control of their career, seek opportunities that meet their career aspirations, guide them to ask for ongoing feedback and clarification on their performance. It’s all about freedom within a framework, accountability with a safety net. We offer our team support by providing:
- Access to great work. That means working with the best brands and clients in the business, the brave ones who want to push ahead, challenging the team to give them more opportunities to expand their experience. Our recent employee survey showed this was a key reason people loved working at W2O Group.
- On-going support. I’m not a micro-manager. I like to let people find their own way to move forward and solve challenges. That said, the safety net and nurturing environment also provides access to the best coaching, training, mentoring and resources. This is key for people to be able to do their best work.
- Clarity and benchmarks. To do your best work I think you need to know why you’re doing it, what’s your role, clear goals and ultimately how it leads to your ongoing career progression. So I’m a fan of focal reviews, goal setting, and clear context on roles and responsibilities to provide employees with structure than lets them grow.
How do you encourage creative/innovative thinking within your organization?
I think we have the most success creatively and thinking innovatively when we bring an integrated team together from across the business and around the world, to focus on a challenge or question that either a client has, or we’re seeing, or sensing in the market.
Silos kill creativity! My role is to ensure we continue to create the forums for diverse groups of people to meet and bring their experience, expertise and creativity to focus on solving problems. This doesn’t mean everyone doing everything. It requires understanding how your contribution fits into bigger picture.
What is the most difficult leadership decision you’ve had to make in the recent past?
Recommending that we should not pursue a piece of new business that would have been a great brand to have on our roster. Given the resources/ budgets available we would have put ourselves, and partners, under undue pressure to deliver within the expected KPIs. It would have quickly degenerated into a no-win situation for us, and our partners, not to mention our prospective new client. All we have is our people and our reputation, both of which would have suffered.
What did you learn from that experience?
Remain focused on what makes good business sense. And one of the definitions of good business strategy is about what you choose not to do every bit as much as what you choose to pursue. Hope is not a strategy!
Cross-post on Twist Mktg Blog.