May 30, 2024
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Striking a balance between performance and company culture isn’t always an easy one to get right.

In this exclusive interview with Production360, Ben Swanton, director of 808 Talent, provides an in-depth analysis to explain how senior leaders, CEOs and private equity investors can do it.


Upon reflecting on IBC, and many discussions with clients and senior contacts across the broadcast and sports media technology landscape during the past three months, the biggest talking point has been about reducing costs amidst the impact of the downturn in the world economy, rising interest rates, and the writers’ and actors’ strikes in the US.

In the dynamic landscape of the broadcast and sports media technology industry, the relationship between performance metrics and fostering company culture has never been more critical.

Our industry thrives on innovation and being customer-centric, with organisations gaining traction with customers through problem-solving and being client focused, even more so with the adoption of cloud-based technologies and introduction of SaaS sales models.

However, a common challenge arises when the need for rapid scalability prompts an investment-based approach, often involving private equity or venture capital firms, whose ‘modus operandi’ is often incongruent with a customer-centric approach and focus on company culture.


The dilemma: performance metrics vs organisational culture

Private equity and VCs, driven by their focus on sales metrics, often bring about a shift in what is deemed as good performance. While this may initially boost growth, it can erode the very culture that made the organisation successful in the first place.

Throw into the mix a downturn in the economy and rising interest rates, then all of a sudden a growth approach following their investment changes to a more conservative profitability approach, often with drastic and immediate timeframes, with the first move being to cut costs, which almost always means a reduction in the workforce.

The result is a dwindling morale among employees, not to mention an unease amongst current and prospective customers, particularly as roles heavily impacted by these changes tend to be those that are on the “frontline” with their customers (sales and support).

This year, some prominent organisations within our media tech ecosystem, have faced challenges due to aggressive growth strategies pursued during a period of low interest rates.

The subsequent rise in interest rates, economic downturn, and industry strikes have since forced them to make drastic cuts.

While trimming excess may be necessary, particularly with the backdrop of excessive hiring for growth over the past three years, the manner in which these cuts are executed can have far-reaching consequences.


The human element: communicating change effectively

People understand that such economic circumstances lead to redundancies, which means that effective communication and a considerate approach to staff reductions are paramount.

Failing to do so not only affects those let go but also impacts the morale of the remaining workforce. This, in turn, leads to a toxic culture that drives away the very talent the company needs – in order to thrive.

Sadly, over the past 12 months or so, there have been numerous instances of companies falling short in this regard.

Whilst you cannot underestimate the pressure on senior leadership when having to make these decisions, companies still need to remember that ultimately businesses are successful on account of the people within them.


A moral imperative: balancing investment and care

This dilemma poses a critical question for business owners and leaders: Is the pursuit of profit the sole priority, or is there a duty of care towards the investment and the people driving the organisation forward?

Striking the right balance between growth and maintaining a healthy company culture is paramount, and without doubt the biggest challenge companies face in our ever-changing industry.


Navigating the future: a call to action

As we look forward, it is imperative for senior leaders, CEOs, and investors to reflect on this crucial dynamic. The delicate balance between performance metrics and company culture is the linchpin for long-term success in our industry.

There is no denying the investment in the market by PE and VC firms is essential for our continued growth, but maybe a balance between realism and idealism when it comes to growth potential goals needs to be adhered to so we can steer our industry towards a future marked by sustainable growth, innovation, and a thriving, happy, and engaged workforce.


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are based on industry insights and observations, and individual experiences may vary.