Resilient teams perform better

Marketer and their agency teams have become more resilient over the last decade, but there are still opportunities to improve this business-critical attribute.

Analysis of Aprais’ global database of more than 25,000 client-agency evaluations, show that resilience was one of the lowest-scoring behavioural attributes of marketers and agencies just 10 years ago. The other behaviours studied and measured are: Accountability, Challenge, Communication, Functional, Goals and Trust.

But in the last decade, scores for resilience have leaped by 9 per cent, demonstrating that agencies and clients alike are better able to respond to crises.

Given that the last decade has encompassed global crises including the Covid pandemic, the ‘always on’ nature of digital media and increased competition meaning companies have to respond faster, it is perhaps not surprising that agencies and clients have been forced to rise to the challenge and demonstrate greater resilience.

But the data also shows there are still opportunities to improve, and for agencies in particular, improving resilience scores is one of the greatest overall areas through which they can boost relationships with their clients.

What we mean by ‘resilience’?

Rapid response to crises has always been a defining trait of the marketing and communications industry.

To be truly resilient, businesses must be able to adapt to disruptions whilst maintaining continuous business operations and safeguarding people, assets and overall brand equity.

At organisational level, this could encompass McKinsey’s six dimensions of resilience: Institutional, Financial, Operational, Technological, Organisational and Reputational.

For marketers and their agencies, this can be translated as being prepared with tactical responses to competitive threats, or anticipating a market reaction. Team leaders however need to be mindful that the need for resilience and an ‘always on’ culture can be at odds with the welfare and mental health of teams and individuals.

This calls for preparation, planning and a resilient mindset among team members.

When it comes to individuals, academic studies demonstrate the mutually enhancing relationship between resilience and positive mental health in the short term, meaning leaders who expect resilience from their team need to encourage and support the physical and mental health of team members.

The importance of resilience

Our data shows that for marketing clients, resilience is the third most important behaviour for lower scoring clients behind communication and functional (ability to do the job). And for agencies, resilience is even more critical, ranking second only to functional among low performing agencies.

Resilience scores improve rapidly with a regular, formal management program.

These scores are not surprising, given that speed and flexibility are both vital qualities of resilience and often demanded by clients of all service providers, including agencies.

How to improve resilience

For agencies:

  1. Be engaged, passionate and show commitment to the client’s business.
  2. Demonstrate initiative to anticipate the client’s needs and manage their expectations.
  3. Be prepared to evolve plans quickly in response to a changing market.
  4. Constantly review internal processes to make sure the agency is best optimised for the times.
  5. Manage resources efficiently to ensure sufficient depth and quality of staff to work with the client team.

For clients:

  1. Promote agency participation in planning discussions both internally and with other agencies.
  2. Provide regular and timely information about the market, business and sales situation.
  3. Give thorough, accurate and timely responses to agency requests.
  4. Communicate any changes to project scope and client team quickly and clearly.
  5. Manage internal approval procedures effectively, including early senior management buy-in and direction.