Teamwork truly does make the dream work and System1’s SEM (search engine marketing) team proves it. With toxic work environments under the microscope, SEM shows us how building healthy team relationships can work like glue to not only make employees happier on the job, but more successful.
We caught up with SEM Team Lead, Maci McElroy, and SEM Buyer, Adam Alkalai, to talk about how the team stays close, even while remote, and the success they’ve seen as a result.
What do you do on the SEM team?
ME: “I manage a very small team of one person. But basically, we just direct and create strategies surrounding search engine marketing.”
AA: “Working on a lot of different accounts, verticals, and doing daily optimizations and analyses for each and going in, kind of seeing where we can explore, where we can expand and boost growth.”
How big is this team and how did it get so close?
ME: “We are separated into smaller groups of two to four or five. So, on the team, there are about 15 to 18 but hiring more — Honestly, the bonds are really natural that were formed so we do just get along personality-wise but we put a lot of effort into team bonding over the years. That’s one thing that’s really important. When one person is coming into the office that we haven’t seen for a while, we all like to be there. We all like to hang out together; happy hours, lunches, game days, so a lot of effort and energy put into that. At my previous company, nobody said a word. You would walk in, sit at your desk, do your work, go to lunch by yourself; literally didn’t speak to anyone the entire day. I can’t imagine doing that here.”
Why is bonding so important to the team?
ME: “I think the way we were trained made us really, really take into account the bonds that we form as a team and how that really carries over. So, trust obviously is important and so once you feel that camaraderie with your teammates, you start to trust them more; you’re more willing to talk to them about issues or problems you’re having and it just becomes a more cohesive unit.”
What was it like joining the team during a pandemic?
AA: “It was interesting. So, this was my first full-time job coming out of school and to onboard fully remotely was definitely a unique experience, something I was obviously a little worried about at first — wasn’t sure how that was going to go. But continuously and really impressed by how well System1 was really able to onboard and welcome me into the company, even being fully remote. Just regularly hopping on different Zoom calls with so many different people in the company, everyone was constantly reaching out, trying to help where they can and give me a good groundwork of understanding the business and really learning all the ins and outs of what we’re doing on a day-to-day basis.”
How has the SEM team dynamic impacted your work?
ME: “I think us being so close helps us really execute very well — we really trust each other with advice, we really listen to each other and always take into account other people’s feelings. It’s not just business for us. Like we always say, ‘we are family,’ which is cliché, but we really do care about each other. Like respecting PTO — nobody wants you to work on your PTO. Like, if we see you online, we’re going to Slack you to get off.”
AA: “I really never thought I was going to be this close with a team that I was working on on a day-to-day basis and really just kind of starting off with that foundation and being able to know that everyone’s that close and consistently communicating with each other — It was very helpful and comforting for someone coming in for their first job and kind of being able to know that at any given moment you can reach out to whoever, whenever, and they’ll be there to kind of walk you through, direct you, for whatever you need. Even things like, right off the bat, we were doing virtual happy hours; just really making sure, as regularly as we can, staying close to each other and really just everyone being on the same page. And it really was a huge value or something I really appreciated coming into this company just how close everyone is. You could really see it and it translates into the work.”
Michael Spears is a 3x Emmy award-winning journalist, storyteller and content creator who spent 10 years in TV news. The Seattle native, who has an affinity for sunshine, is happy to now call Los Angeles home.