How we empower our people at Sojourn to drive client and team success

April 22, 2022 Claire Robinson

Claire Robinson is the Global Head of People, Culture and Strategy at Sojourn Solutions.


My new role as Global Head of People, Culture, and Strategy was created because Sojourn has undergone significant growth in the last few years. We seek to be intentional about how we continue to grow and how we empower our people to drive the success of our clients and themselves. Sojourn’s organizational culture has always stood out for me – I've become passionate about how and why we do what we do, which is why I took on the new role. 

The new role embraces our people strategy, which includes figuring out who we hire, why we hire them, and how we train and enable them. In terms of culture, the role seeks to ensure that everyone at Sojourn understands and can embody our culture in their daily work. Both culture and people connect with our vision of driving client success. 

A team culture of service and achievement 

We've identified Sojourners who are “champions of our culture” internally, and we're creating cross-functional, cross-regional internal groups that spread our service-oriented vision and values across the company.

We've clearly defined our values as achievement, teamwork, and adaptability. We're continually celebrating the success of our clients and our Sojourn people as they demonstrate those values. 

As Sojourners, we're all about driving client success. Internally, we want every Sojourner to be able to articulate why we’re in business, which is our service-oriented purpose and values – achievement, adaptability, and teamwork. We’ve worked hard over the last few months to develop and communicate what we’re all about as an organization, so that everybody is on the same page and working together from the same playbook.

Empowered Sojourners, driving more client success

We measure our people’s success through many factors, firstly by measuring client success. We also have success metrics internally around our culture and our people. We measure employee retention and employee engagement across different functions and regions. The goal is to collect quantitative and qualitative feedback, and listen to what's making our people happy or unhappy. We use employee well-being surveys and other surveys: we have an array of benchmarks that we constantly strive to meet. 

Our culture champions are also on the ground continually collecting and sharing feedback from other Sojourners about how we can better empower our people. We've also formed an employee advisory board to help us develop and execute ideas around our people and culture.

We believe a great employee experience leads to a great client experience. If our people are happy, they will drive better client outcomes, bringing that “wow factor.” Happy people also push themselves and others around them to grow, achieve and adapt.

Enabling and developing people

We approach enabling and developing our people in multiple, interconnected ways. Manager enablement has been one component. We want to ensure that every Sojourn manager can facilitate coaching and development conversations with their teams. Managers are tasked with helping people identify their skill gaps and determine how best to close them, while helping people advance in their career aspirations. 

We’re giving our managers training, materials, and scripts to enable these important employee conversations. Another people development initiative is our “career matrix framework.” It's a series of documents that helps managers and employees understand exactly what's expected of them in their current role. We also make it clear what skills and knowledge people will need to be promoted into their next role, which creates a clear path and career momentum. Transparency and clarity matter a lot.

Promoting learning & development

We’re in a business where knowledge is power. Sharing our know-how and expertise internally is a key driver of client success. We have multiple processes, knowledge base platforms, and other tools to promote the sharing of internal knowledge. We also work to foster a culture of sharing know-how among our people, both formally and informally. We encourage Sojourners to talk to people outside of their departments and areas of knowledge. We need the capacity to work cross-functionally, both internally and as we collaborate with our clients to drive their success. 

More formally, we have a skill tracking database so we know who our internal experts are in each subject-matter area. Tapping into the expertise of our entire team, and being able to easily leverage all our team’s talents, is a critical part of how we drive client success.

On the same page, focused on “better”

When I think back to the process we recently went through in developing our mission, vision, and values, it was truly employee-led. We asked our people: What do we want to do and represent as a company? What do we want to do and represent as Sojourners? We involved everyone and we saw so much passion and engagement around answering those foundational questions. 

What’s been happening since has been amazing. Our people have been demonstrating the vision they collectively defined, they're talking about it to their teams and to their clients. Our people embody our mission, vision, and values – they make them real every day in what they say and do. 

A big part of my new role is asking our people to give me continual feedback on what we’re doing to empower them and foster our culture, so that we can make it better based on what they're sharing.

It’s been so inspiring for me – and it all comes back to our people caring enough to share ideas and help us take action to keep improving. Our culture isn’t a “set and forget” proposition: we need to build it every day in what we do. 

I view my role as keeping two-way communication flowing, keeping those “improvement conversations” going. We’re building trust, building relationships where people share feedback openly. We change, we measure results, and we keep on building together. We’re working outside of the usual boxes, the functional and departmental silos. As a result, we’re having these amazing, collaborative conversations. I'm really excited to see where we go.

Many of these strategies and techniques can be used to improve how you empower your Marketing Operations team to drive success. If you're interested in learning more, we'd enjoy talking to you about it - reach out to us today. 

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