People and Culture are Your Only Sustainable Business Advantage

Bob Macdonald

As I look back over the past four years to when we launched Bond and began our separation from a U.S. holding company, I’m amazed, and so proud of our team and what we’ve accomplished to become an industry leader. I’m also extremely grateful for the growing list of global brands who have chosen to work with us.

We are in the business of creating long-term success for our clients, and doing that takes a lot of work. Insights, expertise, innovation, agility, and executional excellence all come to mind, but it’s really about people—the people who represent the brands we serve and our employees who inspire them, solve their challenges, and help them grow their business.

We’re all familiar with the saying, “Change has never happened this fast before, and it will never be this slow again.” Clearly, technology has enabled people to connect faster globally, which has led to a rapidly changing marketplace and evolving customer expectations; we believe that human experiences continue to matter most when it comes to building lasting bonds.

What excites me about the rapidly changing customer journey is the opportunity to help brands differentiate and win by focusing on their culture and re-humanizing their business to ensure they are building meaningful, personal and lasting relationships with their most important and valuable customers.

Bond Kickoff 2017

Your people can make all the difference

If you’re like me, you’re constantly evaluating your brand’s human and digital experiences. Do they accurately reflect your brand promise? Is your front line reflective of how you differentiate your service offering? As we continue to grow and expand Bond globally, we lean on our culture to help us provide the best experience for our clients and their customers.

Culture is the source of strength for our growing organization. It has become the unifying voice that anchors our employees to a greater purpose. But, as with any company, there comes a point where you can lose sight of what sets you apart.

As we’ve seen with many companies out there, there’s a natural tendency to become fragmented and eventually succumb to the silo effect—the lack of communication and cross-departmental support needed to grow and thrive. Leaders can also lose sight of their brand promise and employee performance can be impacted, putting the customer experience at risk.

Ultimately, people are the differentiator and make it almost impossible for competitors to replicate.

First and foremost, culture transformation takes work and commitment from senior leadership, middle management, and basically every single employee. It also does not happen overnight and is not about employee training and manuals. It starts with having a clear understanding of your brand, where you stand today, and where you want to go tomorrow. It’s about having a shared sense of purpose and aligning the values of your people to your business success and the contributions they need to make to achieve that.

A journey of transformation

Just over a year ago, Bond set out to re-align our culture to do what’s best for our clients and the future of our business. We started by opening our hearts and our boardrooms to include our clients in co-creation sessions to help refine our culture. We focused on the external value we create for our clients, we realized our cultural strengths, and we built a plan to mobilize against those strengths.

Next, instead of just asking our people to “work more effectively together,” we made a commitment to re-invent and personalize the employee experience to ensure our growth would be successful. But with growth comes change, and not everyone is prepared or a fit for the journey ahead. People changes are a painful but very necessary part of the process, so it is crucial to be prepared to deal with the questions, negative chatter, and employee morale issues that come with it.

Through our transformation process, we are learning what matters most to our clients and what sets us apart. How we show up and what we do for our clients are vitally important, so we built a playbook to help guide our employees as they bring the Bond Experience to life throughout the entire client relationship journey. The goal of our playbook is to be the tangible manifestation of our culture, how we interact with each other and with our clients. It reflects our values and actions, and inspires our team to embrace change and be catalysts of ideas and actions.

Today, I am so proud of our evolving brand and all that it stands for. Our name evokes a dual meaning: the connection between people and a brand, and the commitments people make to one another, ultimately striving for an unbreakable Bond. Over the past four years, our team has created a brand, in Bond, with a great reputation, and on a scale well beyond our humble Canadian roots. I am so proud of everything we have accomplished to date, and confident in the bright future ahead of us.