Creative Talk with Jerry Beale from Tickled Pink
This month we talk with Jerry Beale from Tickled Pink. Tickled Pink works with businesses to boost bottom line performance and staff engagement by understanding how staff can experience more happiness at work, aligning the whole organization to a meaningful purpose, then creating a workplace culture that supports both of these.
How did Tickled Pink come about?
I first became involved in organisational culture about 12 years ago when running my own creative agency. We were approached by a number of clients saying they wanted an internal communications campaign to strengthen how their brand was delivered. But in every case, we found out that what was missing was a core belief or purpose at the heart of their business. Something that all staff could get behind – which then could potentially flow outward to drive better customer experiences - which in turn grew the business.
That discovery stayed with me. I’ve been part of independent agency True for about 6 years as a senior creative strategist. A couple of years ago, Craig Pethybridge, the founder of True, and I got talking about differentiating brands from the inside, and the sheer power of a passionately aligned internal purpose and culture. The idea clicked and so Tickled Pink was born!
Has this been a personal passion of yours?
I have to say yes, absolutely! I love finding innovative ways to help brands transform and grow. By working closely with the people inside the business, from the leadership team to the warehouse team, I get a real feel for their passion. Why they work where they do, what makes them happy and what they need to become even more engaged and productive. We do a lot of listening, most of it confidential so we really understand what’s going on. We’re looking for shared sentiments – what’s working and what’s not. We always tie our processes to commercial goals as well as engagement. And the best part is seeing the change in the people as we work our way through. Relationships get stronger, teams pull together. There’s a lot of honesty and a lot of genuine gratitude.
Do you feel that New Zealand & Australian businesses recognise the impact of internal alignment and culture on bottom line performance?
Some definitely do. Air New Zealand is a good example. So is Les Mills International. But many focus all their resources on consumer messaging, yet do nothing even when they realise there is a disconnect between what they’re saying and how things look inside the business. Some of this is legacy thinking. But consumers are too savvy now. There’s absolute transparency and many expect the brands they buy to have a healthy internal culture and an authentic, more meaningful purpose beyond profit. Millennials especially want to know what it’s like on the inside of their brands – as both consumers and potential employees.
What are the tell-tale signs that a company really needs your help?
It’s not just about identifying businesses in trouble. There are many, many case studies that show when a business focuses on growing their people and invests in discovering and aligning their entire team to a deeper purpose that commercial performance measures transform dramatically – from bottom line to increased innovation ability. We talk to companies looking for an edge that’s not external marketing – as well as those going through change. And some CEOs that simply care that their workforce is as happy as possible. They take immense pride in creating an employee culture that’s the envy of other businesses. What’s most salient is that transformation from the inside leads to a more sustainable performance culture, which in turn means the business gains are more sustainable.
Does Tickled Pink have a prescribed programme or is it bespoke for each company?
We’ve shaped our Happiness, Critical purpose, Values, Alignment and Culture methodologies around a consistent delivery template of scope, discover, immerse and expand. But because every business is different, we do a lot of customization for each assignment. What we do must reflect the nature of the business and the people that work across it. That’s vital!
Do you work with companies across all sectors / industries?
To date, we’ve worked over a range of companies from travel to retail, digital media to health and wellness. A key part of the scope stage is genuinely understanding each business from the inside out. What’s the CEO’s vision? What the existing staff culture? What’s missing? How can we work closely with HR without treading on toes? As I said earlier, we do a lot of deep listening and enquiry at the beginning so we truly recognise the potential.
What about company size – is the programme the same for a team of 5 through to 500?
We follow the same basic methodologies, but with all organisations we collaborate on how we stream the work through the business. We don’t want to cause unnecessary disruptions to workflow. So we regularly adapt programmes to suit both circumstances and company make-up. Plus we’re open to working with other internal / external teams to create an even more beneficial impact.
What is the timeframe for the transformation?
Again that depends on the size of the company plus factors like geography and the pressure upon their team at the time. But usually we expect to be involved and actively visiting their premises for anything from 10 weeks to 6 months. Obviously it rarely happens in a continuous sprint. We plan, agree with leadership, conduct experiential workshops, report then agree the next window. At completion, we always set a 6-month check-in to gauge how the benefits are delivering to the business.
Where do you start with the process of transforming a company?
By listening to what the leaderships says, doing some thorough discovery ourselves then having entirely open and candid conversations on what’s going on, and how we can create significant change through increased happiness, alignment to a meaningful critical purpose and installing a vibrant, differentiating staff culture that’s owned from the bottom up. Sometimes the opportunity is to focus on just one area. Other times we flow from process to process. But it’s always hand-in-hand with the key people in the company. When we work with you, we ask permission from everybody to become one of you whilst we’re working together. To build real trust. I’ve got no time for the ‘consultant effect’.