Shifting from Strategy to Survival

Posted on the 21 May 2020

Shifting from Strategy to Survival

Lisa Eaton is the Managing Director of Unwritten Group, a fully integrated communications agency with a customer focused approach. From founding and selling a successful dance business during her early career, to driving year-on-year growth at Unwritten, Lisa has two decades of experience in leading marketing campaigns for a range of prominent UK brands. As well as being an excellent strategic thinker, Lisa is a strong business leader, a fierce advocate for wellbeing in the workplace and proudly mentors young women across the region.

With projects on hold, deadlines cancelled, and traditional targets put on the backburner, the marketing industry is experiencing a phenomenal shift in purpose.

Like many others, I have found myself leading a team in the most uncertain time of our generation. What I’ve learnt so far, is that it requires resilient leadership, clear communication and interconnected teamwork like never before.

Whilst I have every faith that once the crisis is over, we will all return to some sort of ‘new-normal’, currently I have a set of priorities that I’m trying to ensure we achieve in order to survive, both in the business and the personal sense.

1.  CREATING A SHARED PURPOSE

At Unwritten we have always had a shared purpose: to deliver work that achieves results and has a positive impact on the world around us whilst supporting each other along the way. This underpins everything we do, however we’re currently striving for a whole new shared purpose, and this is simply survival.

2.  BUILDING A STRONG CULTURE

My top priorities for business survival, are to protect jobs and ensure we have a strong agency to return to. Something I’ve always been proud of at Unwritten is that everyone in the team feels part of our journey. They’ve helped build this business over the years and its success is as much theirs as it is mine. That really showed when we shifted to remote working a week before the lockdown, as the whole team worked tirelessly to ensure we continued to provide the same amazing service to our clients, and that we make it through these tough times together.

3.  SHOWING APPRECIATION

A shining light through this time has been the team's total appreciation for each other and how the business works as a whole. It has been important for me to ensure that everyone is clear on what we are trying to achieve. Everyone understands the importance of their role and the part it plays in the business process, and the team has continued to deliver the standard of work that has been imperative to ensure we deliver on our promise to clients. Although our goals have shifted temporarily, I believe that setting objectives and delivering on them keeps focus and productivity high.

4.  INVESTING IN LEARNING

Ready for a full return to business, our team have not slowed down in our mission to build an agency of life-long learners. Within their specialisms, each member of the team has embraced the opportunity to continue training with a new-found motivation. Some have also been volunteering their time to organisations where their skills are most needed. It’s an opportunity for us all to learn, coming back stronger than before.

5.  PRIORITISING WELLBEING

I’m also very conscious of personal survival for our staff. Staying safe and keeping mentally and physically healthy, is vital. We are each experiencing a unique set of circumstances, but everyone has made an incredible effort to look after each other. Whilst some are having good days, others are having bad. For me, it’s been a huge challenge to recognise those who are struggling whilst we’re physically separated and to learn how to adapt to supporting one another through the tougher days.

6. COMMUNICATING EFFECTIVELY

Continuous communication has been the key factor in keeping us connected. I have put an extra emphasis on us communicating with complete honesty. It’s so important to know how we’re managing workloads, the ups and downs of coping in quarantine, when we’re doing well and when we’re struggling. It’s been incredible to see everyone rally together and offer support and empathy at every opportunity.

7.  ENCOURAGING ETHICS

Ethics have never been more important. I’m determined to keep doing the absolute best by my team as well as our customers, partners and suppliers. I think the key to coming out of these uncertain times stronger than before is being flexible and willing to adapt in order to protect our relationships at all costs.

I look forward to reflecting on this and remembering how we all pulled together to cope with these extraordinary times. In the meantime, for business leaders like myself, it’s vital to continue inspiring and motivating people. By making sure your team know how valued and supported they are, you give your business the best chance of survival. Strong leadership and great teamwork are what will see us through.”