How To Fix It

There are lots of blogs written, and consultants with sites who work with / write about agencies and in-house marketing departments. These experts assess and refine your business skills, coach leadership, or even define your brand. Most are highly qualified and very successful – plus they’re really nice folks.

They work with Owners / Partners, EVPs, SVPs, VPs, Accountants – all those guys and gals who lament, “There’s something wrong.”

When your car doesn't start do you get out, take a look, and decide it needs a wash and wax? Nope. Instead, you have someone get into that…place…under the hood, where you never look.

I am automotive technician. I check out the moving parts of your agency or department. Disassembly and observation tells me what is wrong. Management usually doesn't go there.

I work with the day-to-day everyperson (which probably represents, a large percentage of your staff), and their seemingly drudgery-related stuff that can sap your organization of…joy.

I know joy exists in advertising, because I have witnessed it. In between crises.

Joy: things that make you want to go to work. Like doing awesome creative, bonding with appreciative clients and turning a profit.

I have done the work myself, dealt with the powers-that-be, and know exactly what they’re thinking:
We’re always over budget (not making money on X client), or late, or employees are hatin’ on one-another – as in, no joy. Fix it.

I've said it before and I’ll say it again – if you want to know what’s going on, or going wrong – ask the people doing the work.

Well, for God’s sake, do not crowdsource a solution. Because like any committee, they meet; issues get discussed (interminably); ideas cheered; a task force is assembled; a manifesto written; then everyone gets busy and nothing changes.

The suggestion box is for management who doesn't want, or is ‘too busy’ to take a little time and have direct contact with staff. And, have you ever read the suggestions? “Let’s have Stone IPA instead of that lame Bud Light. Trust me, I have seen that.

If it sounds like I’m beating up management – I am. Quit thinking you know everything and listen to your employees. Incessant whining is one thing, complaints are something completely different. Let the whiners go elsewhere to spread their gloom; listen to the complaints because those can be fixed.

I invite you to descend from that throne and pay heed to your employees’ ideas, complaints and solutions – all the time. The complaint department is a laser-quick path to enlightenment.

Give those ideas/complaints/solutions some air time. Ask that person to flesh-out the idea, provide a simple plan, and bring it back. Then give it thoughtful consideration – right away – and act. They did the work, you owe them. And it just could fix the problem. Then you wouldn't need to hire a consultant.

Back to process.
Most agencies have competent accounting staff. That’s because they have learned to follow strict rules - there are specific procedures for that role. There are amazing programs out there that will give you every kind of report you can imagine. And if you have good process in place – a process for the other 90 percent of your agency – you will be able to rely on those reports. Imagine, getting rid of Excel.

But a lot of agencies – and in-house marketing departments – don’t have a good process for managing (e.g. documenting, tracking) the day-to-day that feeds those important reports. You know, the ones that tell you if you are making money – or not.

The problem usually is this: management doesn't like to hear whining about process, so they forego structure for just a little quiet. This stuff doesn't just go away and fix itself.

As an aside, if your staff doesn't have the time to assess, define and implement process and tools; and you (managers) don’t want to field the, “why are we doing this?” I can help. Short term / long term solutions are available.

So all those things you hate, and your staff says takes too much time – like process, forms, schedules, budgets/estimates, and – timesheets. You need them. And to be effective, they really should be accurate – like updated – real time.

It isn’t drudgery if you define your process, put good tools in place, and ensure compliance.

It will become a habit. Like having Beer Fridays. You will experience joy.