Updated: Jul 5, 2021
Just down the street from my home is Madwire, the largest marketing agency in northern, Colorado. They erected a new building just 2 years ago, all 100,000 square feet of it, to provide room for their 100+ employees. Madwire founders, brothers JB and Joe Kellogg, built the mammoth building thanks to the tremendous growth of their digital marketing agency.
Although I have limited knowledge of Madwire's internal atmosphere, I do know management is a fan of team building and motivational exercises in an attempt to draw inspiration and productivity from the staff. I once toured the new building while I was considering hiring a marketing agency for support. I remember walking past a group of employees arranged in a circle around what I assumed was a manager. They were clapping in unison and loudly reciting a corporate anthem of some sort. I cringed at the idea of being forced to participate in this conceited ritual. I don't remember the chant exactly, but it probably had something to do with raising the bar, giving 110%, or taking the "I" out of team. Yikes.
I do give the Kelloggs props for the effort, but these tactics are likely more for them than anyone else. Maybe it gives them confirmation that they're progressive. Maybe they refer to their employees as a "family" but - with the exception of the brothers Kellogg - that sentiment is surely not reciprocated.
Talking about being a motivator and actually being one is two different things. Corny motivational sayings are insincere and the staff know it.
Leadership and corporate culture is about relationships, not team building exercises and motivational chants. Knowing your staff, their personalities, and the qualities of each is key to managing. Everyone is motivated differently. I wonder generic, cookie-cutter, bonding exercises do more harm than good.
Madwire's website states their staff are motivated, hard-working... compassionate and fun-loving. That's a bold way to describe to 100+ unique individuals.
My guess is each is unique and has different qualities, deficiencies, and personalities. And that's okay. No need to refer to them as compassionate, fun-loving or a family.
Jon Mullett, Freelance Marketing Services
Fort Collins, Colorado