Dept Agency: "Soft skills are getting more important to us."

On the website of Digital Agency Dept. we read the following quote: “This morning you woke up in a new digital world”. Utterly true of course. It is crucial your staff has the required soft skills to be able to work in this new digital world. HR manager Sandra van Heeswijk explains why soft skills are becoming more important to Dept. 

A digital agency where social attributes and other soft skills, like mentoring, advisory skills, open mindness for other (business) cultures become increasingly more important. Isn’t this contradictory for a company which core function is analyzing data?

In the last years, Depth has undergone a fast growth which requires more soft skills. Van Heeswijk: "Our recent clients are triple A clients like Bol.com and we support them with large and more complex projects. To support such customers you need to have a feel for the organization and sometimes power of persuasion."

Last but not least the company culture plays a big role. Van Heeswijk: "We deliver services to our clients and work closely with them, often on location. Because agile working is part of our culture, we thrive on consultation and (fine) tuning. On every level we are in contact with our clients. Next to this we value an open and transparent culture within our own company. A culture where people work hard, foster their own responsibilities and give each other continuous feedback. This requires a good level of your soft and social skills."

Own responsibility 

The educational program of Dept is called Dept College. "We deliberately decided not to opt for the name of Dept Academy as this name is quite stilted and corporate, which does not fit in our flat and transparent organisation", says Van Heeswijk with a smile.

The courses which New Heroes offer form are an integrated part of Dept College. “Every staff member may sign up for the entire program of New Heroes, whether you choose a single course or sign up for 5 to 10 courses. Staff members are free to choose a course of their interest. Even if you are not a manager, you can sign up for a course in that area. It fits in the philosophy of Dept to take responsibility for your own development. As Van Heeswijk stated, Dept finds it crucial to create continuous feedback between all staff members. Continuous feedback is one of the subjects which is of special interest to Dept. “Staff members will receive an introductory training on Feedback at New Heroes, followed up by an internal course with an actor to simulate a situation. For us this is a good example of blended learning.”

Van Heeswijk will promote the total offering of New Heroes internaly. “Now we are offering the complete range without any obligation while we see the importance of it. Some people are working very actively and hard on their personal development while others haven't even logged in. 

There is sometimes a tendency that staffmembers are prioritizing the delusions of the day instead of investing in their personal growth. This is the reason we will organize special New Heroes introductions. HR will line management how to establish an active dialogue with their team members on interests and development needs. We want New Heroes and their learning journey to be on top of mind with all our employees.

These are the 5 most populair courses at Dept: 

  1. Consultative selling
  2. Giving feedback
  3. Me? A manager?
  4. Time management
  5. Influencing

About Dept Agency and Sandra van Heeswijk 

Dept Ageny is an agency which combines creativity, technology and factual data. Over 1000 professionals work in design, marketing and commerce. Dept works for -amongst others-, OXXIO, Bol.com, Rituals and Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. Dept shows a steep growth due to acquisitions.

Eleven years ago Sandra van Heeswijk started at Tam Tam, predecessor of Dept. Six years ago she transferred to the HR department. “My first reaction was super excitement. The only issue was that I had no HR experience and training. TamTam made a conscious decision to hire someone with business knowledge and not necessarily someone with HR skills. Case by case I acquired experience and knowledge and feel comfortable in this field. "My learning curve is super steep, also due to the expansion of Dept abroad and in The Netherlands."

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