Inside The CleverClicks Company Culture:

By Steph Von der Heyde | Culture

Apr 03
Obstacle course in mud

We do things differently here at Cleverclicks. You might even go so far as to call us a little weird…

Just spend 5 minutes in our office and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

On a normal day you’ll see our CEO wearing board shorts, a meeting starting with the question “would you rather have no knees or no elbows?”, people logging in from locations like Barcelona or Bali and a junior member of the team working alongside our most senior strategists on any given project.

And that’s just the beginning.

For anyone not accustomed to scenes like these it might all seem rather strange, but ask any member of the Cleverclicks team what they love about the company and they’ll answer: ‘the culture!’.

Company Culture

Just another day at the office with Phil, Ant, Naeem and Steph (can you spot her?).

What is a company culture?

A company culture is like a company’s personality. It’s the ‘vibe’ or ‘ethos’ that permeates the entire company and everyone in it.

Every company has one (mostly unintentionally). Unfortunately, few companies have a culture that is well-defined and even fewer consciously cultivate their cultures to improve the quality of their work and the work-lives of everyone in it.

Creating a company culture involves two main steps: the first is about defining the company’s values, and the second (harder) step is about finding ways to ensure that those values are exercised in everyday office life.

And we mean every day. Values are no good to anyone just stuck on a notice board, only to be looked at on your annual ‘team building’ day…

Generally, it’s step 2 that trips people up. We hope that by taking a closer look at how we do it you’ll see that it’s not only companies like Google, Zappos, Infusionsoft and Atlassian that get it right – you can do it too!

The CleverClicks Company Culture:

The cornerstones of every company’s culture are its values. Here are ours:

  1. Growth
  2. Care
  3. Enthusiasm
  4. Trust

Incidentally, our list of core values were decided by our entire team – not just the top brass.

One hallowed night we all wrote down our most important values – and then compared notes. The values that were mentioned most often were put into a list, which we then discussed and debated until we had settled on the ones we truly felt reflected Cleverclicks’ soul.

But that was the easy part. Now comes step 2.

We didn’t just write them on the wall and never really engage with them again, we made, and continue to make, a concerted effort to incorporate them into the way we operate.

This involves settling on actual, tangible practices that infuse our values into our daily lives. Have a look at the examples below.

1. Growth

As a business, we’re very focused on growth: the growth of our clients’ businesses, the growth of our employees, the growth of Cleverclicks. It’s all about constant improvement, progress, expansions and positive growth.

Here’s how we’ve made infused growth into our everyday lives:

Learning:

Every week, each member of the team dedicates half a day to learning something new. This usually involves doing a course, attending webinars, reading articles or even going to conferences overseas.

The expense is covered by the company (and we’re given time off work), which allows us to expand our knowledge, gain new qualifications, learn new skills and grow as individuals.

Team members at a conference in Boston, USA.

Personal Growth:

Every member of the Cleverclicks team gets regular meetings with a personal coach. These 1-on-1 sessions are a chance for every employee to reflect on their current trajectory and sit with an experienced professional who’ll help them set a clear plan for achieving all their work and life goals.  

These sessions are all completely confidential and considered pretty much sacred among our staff. They help us achieve the growth we want, both personally and professionally.

Client Success:

We measure our client success by growth in their businesses, not by the minor goals related to the work we do on their websites.

It’s easy to get caught up focusing on things like website traffic or engagement rates, but while we’re doing all that we remain mindful of the fact that our real success is business growth.

After all, what good are a million website visitors if they’re not affecting the business’ bottom line? We try very hard to keep the big picture in mind.  

Celebrations:

We mark all our successes, big and small, with celebrations. Drinks, dinners, lunches, announcements – we ensure that every victory is celebrated.

Some memorable celebrations have included team surfing lessons, half-days off work, paragliding, go-karting, weekends away, wine tastings and more!

This keeps the team focused on improvements and prevents any part of the project from stagnating. If it’s growing, we make sure to encourage it.

Paragliding

Philip celebrating a productive week

Clear goal setting:

We’re a goal-oriented bunch here at Cleverclicks.

Every individual has quarterly KPIs, targets and goals that they’re constantly working towards, and everything is carefully tracked and measured.

You only have to see our massive goals wall in our boardroom, or hear our weekly milestones meeting, or sit in on our health goals tag question (yes we track our health goals as well!) to know that we’re slightly goals-mad.

Every action is based on a goal, and every goal is about business or personal growth. This obsession with goal setting is part of everything we do, and it ensures we’re constantly growing.

2. Care

We care for ourselves, our clients, our work, our team and our results. Here’s how we’ve infused the value of care into our everyday lives:

Health:

Every employee at Cleverclicks gets a health allowance to spend on things like yoga classes, a personal trainer or a gym membership.

We also give our team regular wellness coaching sessions with a wellness consultant and our whole team participates in exercise events like team marathons and extreme obstacle courses.

Mud

The CleverClicks team dominating The Warrior Challenge

If you’re in the office on a busy day it’s not uncommon to hear someone shout “who wants a green smoothie?” instead of offering coffee – although we’re not afraid of a little almond-milk latte either – we can get free coffees on the company account at the local cafe too…

This focus on the health and wellbeing comes from the fact that we care about the individuals in the company, not just about the work they produce as a team.

Remote working & flexi hours:

The Cleverclicks team get to work from home a few days a week (or more if you need it!) and if you have a dentist appointment or a yoga class during the day you can just waltz on out.

Pretty awesome, right? We believe in work-life balance and care enough to give people the freedom to live their lives. If you’ve got a personal matter to attend to during business hours and would rather catch up you work at night… go for it.

Office view

Nicole demonstrating remote working done right

Client Relationships:

We care about our clients as individuals. Any member of our team can tell you who’s bought a new house, who just won a business award, who’s just been skiing in Italy…

We care about the people we work with and what’s going on in their home lives as well as their work lives.

We had an instance recently where our team were up until 3AM helping a client with a website that’d been hacked – it wasn’t within our scope, but we felt for the client and we were only too happy to do what we could.

Our team prefer operating that way and we’ve seen it have a real positive impact on our work as well.

As a company, we know that a little care goes a long way – especially in a digital industry.

3. Trust

Trust is a cliche in business, but cliches become cliches because they’re universal truths, and it’s true that you can’t have a great company culture without trust.

Trust in individuals, trust in the team and trust in the company as a whole. That’s why it’s one of our core values, why we’ve infused it into our everyday lives.

Wine tasting with Ant, Naeem, Steph, Nicole and Philip

Trust in the individuals:

As we’ve already mentioned, we give our employees flexi hours and allow them to work remotely.

This requires a lot of trust, but we’ve found that the more trust you place in people, the harder they work to earn it. There is no micro-management.

All our employees love the flexi hours and remote working perks, and we’ve never once had to threaten anyone or even considered taking it away.

Customer relationships:

We don’t make our customers sign contracts. That may sound crazy to some, but it makes perfect sense to us. Why would we want to lock a client into a relationship?

Our customers stay with us because we’re doing a good job, not because they’ve signed a 6 or 12 month contract.

No bullshit:

Transparency is paramount to the way we operate, and it’s been a core focus of ours since day 1.

Sadly, there’s a lot of skullduggery** that goes on in the SEO industry, and we wanted to shatter that mould.

** Think you’re a victim? Take this test to find out.

We share all our strategies with clients upfront. In fact, we hand it over. If they want to take it and run, so be it. We’re confident in the fact that no one can execute the strategy better than our team can.

We also make sure we’re open about everything and that our entire workflow is open to clients to scrutinise – in fact, we encourage it! Nothing is off limits.

No smoke and mirrors. No bullshit!

4. Enthusiasm

We. Are. Excited. About. Our. Work. Yes, we can pretty much hear your eyes rolling, but honestly – we are!

In fact, we recently gave our team an anonymous survey to complete, and the question: “How super pumped are you about your job right now?” averaged a 9.7 out of 10!

We are an enthusiastic bunch who are committed to keeping team energy up at all times, and have a number of ways to do so.

Soaking up marketing wisdom from the legend, Seth Godin, along with 10 000 other digital marketers in the U.S.

Meetings made fun:

We start every team status meeting with a “tag” question to get everyone fired up and ready to go. It’s just a quick question, but it gets everyone engaged, lifts the mood and often gets the meeting started with a bit of a laugh.

Some of our recent ones have included:

  • Share a picture of yourself as a child.
  • What’s the last awkward moment you had?
  • Tell us about the worst boss you’ve ever worked for

These questions never fail to get the team going and ensure meetings always start on a high note.

We also conduct many of our meetings standing up to ensure they stay short, sharp and to the point (and better for your back).

If we do have to have a lengthy meeting, we do a “30 Seconds” card between every agenda items and sometimes (often) we drink beer.

30 Seconds Card

Naeem with his record-breaking 30 seconds card

Debating is encouraged:

We encourage passionate debates in our office, and there’s no one you can’t take on! Whether you’ve got a new idea, want to challenge someone’s logic or want to make a rousing speech about why your 1 Thing article idea is the best one, anyone from interns to managers are encouraged to take the stage.

In a team that’s as fond of all of its members as we are, nobody minds having their ideas questioned or shies away from a little healthy competition. It’s all part of being an enthusiastic team!

Mistakes are a good thing:

In a team that’s passionate about the work they do, new ideas are raised constantly. In order to ensure this culture never subsides, we don’t dwell on things that go wrong.

We love Mark Zuckerberg’s quote: “Move fast and break things”.

If your idea doesn’t work or your new plan blows up in your face, we’ll never hold it against you – at least you tried! All our managers and staff see mistakes as an ingredient of success, so we make sure no one is afraid to give their ideas a chance.  

We recruit for culture:

When we’re looking for a new member of our team, the cultural factor counts every bit as much as skills and experience.

Skills can be taught and experience can be gained, but passion, enthusiasm and a thirst for knowledge are something a person is born with.

If you want to be a part of the Cleverclicks team, there’d better be a lot more to you than your resume!

Tim Burton fancy dress party

So, what do you think? Not just your average digital marketing agency?

The examples above are just a few of many ways we ensure our company culture isn’t a set of values that gather dust in the ‘about us’ section of our website.

We hope that by sharing our story you’ll see how our culture is part of everything we do and be inspired to do the same!

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