Episode 8 of Working better, together features Rob Stokes who chats to us about growing a company by treating people like adults.
Rob founded the digital agency Quirk in 1999, one of South Africa’s earliest, most award-winning and now largest digital agencies, with five offices across Africa and in London. The company was acquired by WPP in 2014 and then became Mirum Africa in 2016. Nowadays Rob heads up Red & Yellow, the Creative School of Business (they are also the new co-organisers of DisruptHR Cape Town).
“Sure, we’re a little crazy, a little nerdy, a little mad scientist and a lot obsessed with cats… but it sure does make for an interesting ‘day at the office.’” — Quirk / Mirum Africa
Inspired by books such as Maverick by Ricardo Semler and How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams, Rob grew his successful startup Quirk on the principles of treating employees like adults; giving them the freedom to work flexible hours & measuring their productivity through performance and output rather than ‘face time’ in the office.
“The world has changed a lot and keeping those outdated mindsets is a disadvantage.”
Rob believes that we’ve never seen such a cultural mismatch in the workplace as we do today between management and staff. Currently, most established companies are being managed by senior members from previous generations.
“When millennials hit senior management, things are going to change pretty quickly.”
When it comes to building a team, Rob argues that it’s better to build a small, tight team (“the best people win”) over a longer period of time than to hire the first person you meet in the street because you’re too busy.
“People are the № 1 source of both pain and pleasure in an organisation.”
It’s also important to give people a well-thought out & well-documented career path, which does two things:
This not only leads to their personal growth, but also makes them more valuable as employees.
6.50 — Input vs Outcomes when it comes to work & attracting talent.
9.50 — Rob’s learnings through managing people over the past 10 years.
15.37 — Rob’s recipe for success: Skills + Motivation + Expectation = Success (guaranteed!)
18.35 — More books that have inspired Rob: Mindset by Carol Dweck
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