Your Employees Will Save Your Sorry A**. Really.

Before, during blissful ignorance.

Before, during blissful ignorance.

The other day I wrote about how complaints make their way up to top-level management – and the reason that happens is because complaints aren’t addressed early and that they are just basically lousy managers. And this means you Mr./Ms. Partner, CEO, or Thought-Leader (ugh!).

The direct result of blissful ignorance.

The direct result of blissful ignorance.

If you’re such a bloody visionary, then why are things late, wrong, and over budget in your agency or department?

Disruptive thinking won’t fix what’s not working. Oh, a new paradigm?


Let’s go back in time.

Some guy came up with a thing. A thing that would make the world better and make him a whole lot of money. Like a car.

So this guy started making cars. He figured a way to make them better, faster and cheaper. He made money, his employees made money, and everyone bought a house. Then everyone started applying this amazing process to the way they made cars.


Fast forward to, oh about, 1975. That same company with that guy’s name, was turning out pure shit at a killer pace. His employees didn’t care (well I’m sure some did), as long as they finished their job and got a paycheck at the end of the week. They continued to buy houses.

Then another company started making better cars. Employees cared about the product. THEY gave input on how to make cars better. Management listened and rewarded them for their suggestions. They continued to improve until one day…they were the largest car manufacturer in the world. Their employees bought houses too.

Ask your employees and they will tell you what is wrong and what needs to be improved. And even a little bonus – they’ll probably tell you how to do it.

Because you, up there in your awesome office, don’t have a clue about what’s going on. That’s because you don’t ask anyone anything. And my hunch is that you actually think you know more than they do.

So, once again, a major shout-out to those who do the work. The ones who show up and crank out creative stuff every day despite the lousy leadership, paradigm disruptions and whatever new management philosophy is adopted from the latest thought-leader guru.

It’s so simple. But I’m sure the last thing you want to hear is the truth.

But if you’re tired of complaints, and really want to fix it, at the very least find out what’s going on.

If you have the nerve.

And something else, about this disruptive thinking thing, employees actually do like a little routine. They like to know what to expect, plan their day and get their work done…for you.

Imagine that. Productivity.

New Year Resolution: Make Your Agency Better

6.5 Percent Unemployment, Surge In The Housing Market, Affordable Healthcare, Unicorns & Glitter

Unicorns & Glitter to the rescue!

Unicorns & Glitter to the rescue!

Read on, trust me, I will get to what this means to your agency. . .

I’ve been traveling a lot lately and therefore watching a whole bunch of cable news. I go everywhere from Lean Forward to Fair and Balanced, with PBS sprinkled in.

I know first-hand that the sub-head I wrote is a whole ton of crap. Yes, even the part about Unicorns & Glitter, sadly. And the stark reality wasn't mentioned on cable news.

I live in Las Vegas, Nevada. The giant sinkhole of the Last Great Boom.

The reality is that the U-6 rate (actual unemployment including those who have quit looking) is 21.4 percent.

The reality is that the surge in the housing market is driven by, once again, speculators. That $600,000 home next door to me, that has foreclosed at least three times in five years, sold for less than $200,000 to a company that has a goal of 5,000 rental units.

The reality is . . . Affordable healthcare – the single greatest oxymoron ever. The bills get paid somehow, and whether it’s on the backs of the 20-somethings, or through higher average premiums (or taxes) for all, none of it really makes sense. Who does it make sense to? Perhaps the 12,745 individuals out of the 118,000 anticipated, who have signed up in Nevada as of the December 30 deadline.

The purpose isn’t to leave 2013 on a bad note. It is to enter 2014 on better note.

All of this ‘news’ points to one thing: get your act together.

Your agency. Your marketing department.

Stop all the waste that makes (or should make) you crazy.

  • Eliminate the extraordinary overages in client hours (that you can’t bill)
  • Communicate within – effectively and efficiently (get the documentation process out of email!)
  • Know where every project is at any moment (and who’s working on it)

When your house is in order, you will have time to do stunning creative, attract more clients and hire amazing talent.

Be brutally honest with yourself about your agency or department, because those bullet points are the distractions that will keep you mired in 2013. 

It's such mundane stuff I'm amazed I have to point it out. But then again, you're probably so used to it, you just assume it's part of being in advertising. 

I’m not here to tell you how to do great creative. I’m here to tell you how to organize so you can.

So, by getting organized, you can affect change: reduce the U-6 rate: hire people so they can buy a house; and when you're more profitable, you can offer better healthcare than what's offered on the public exchange - another great way to attract top talent.

As for Nevada? A prosperous 2014. We get drones!

You Need A Project Manager

You need a Project Manager to organize your work. You know, the person who knows what comes next and can prepare for it (planning). To remind everyone there is an end date (deliverable). And to keep everyone on task (not a taskmaster, mind you).

The keeper of progress. Moving forward. Keeping your agency or department from losing its way.

Why? So you all don’t look stupid (negative).

Or, so the Senior Director of Account, the Executive Creative Director, or the Senior VP of Marketing look like heroes (positive). Or at the very least, you don’t have to answer to your superiors because something, very simple, was executed in a very lame way.

No one wants to look bad. But when the daily routine gets done with a lot of internal strife, or delays, or at extraordinary cost (waaaayyy above estimate, or department budget) – it gets noticed. The CFO, CEO, Owner, Partner – the folks who make the decision as to whether that Director or VP is actually worth the big money they are paid – they notice.

In other words, the bottom line is that a Project Manager will save your strategic, creative ass.

This isn’t about telling you what to do, although it can be (if you’re lazy, or off on The Next Big Thing, or golfing, or at yet another conference on how to make your agency more awesome) while active projects languish.

A Project Manager keeps things organized for those who find organization a pain in the ass. Or worse, unnecessary (you are doomed to fail if you think this way).

A Project Manager keeps the team – your team – on task. And that indispensable individual is forever aware of the things that can derail a project (these are risks): an AE who has to have this now (resources). Client changes that affect scope (time + dollars). A creative director who doesn’t know what he wants until he sees it (unimaginative). An Art Director/Designer who keeps tweaking a project until it’s ‘perfect’ – and wrung-dry of available dollars (unsupervised).

If you don’t have a Project Manager, then Account, Creative, Production – and yes you, Management/Owner – are doing the work.

Or actually, doing the cleanup.

Messy. And a huge waste of time.

If you cared about your Agency or Marketing Department, you’d run out and poach the best Project Manager you could find.

Now ditch that personal assistant or life coach and put those dollars to work.

So you can do great work – and keep your job.

organization = love / hate

Everyone has some sort of New Year’s resolution… until they have to maintain it.

Like exercise: I will get up at 5am and go to the gym five days a week. It takes 40 days to create a habit. And commitment is easier because I have a partner to motivate me.

How does this relate to your agency or department? A commitment to getting organized, creating a process that everyone follows is like a resolution – with benefits. You just have to do it, stick with it, and get over the grief you will surely get in the process.

I have been hired by firms and worked with clients that were in the midst of chaos. I proposed a logical process solution, built it, trained and rolled it out – they loved me.

Let’s face it, a CEO, VP, partner, owner or manager hates it when simple things go wrong. Things that should have been routine. I completely agree, and when I see something going sideways, my first reaction is to fix it. I am a hero and they love me.

So, fixing it requires a process that is workable for the organization; tools that are solid and collaborative; people who are willing to put forth the effort to become the solution; and management who will NOT BACK DOWN.

That last point is for you – the C-level guy or gal, owner, partner – because someone (or more than someone) will complain.

You now have a choice:
- Give in because complaints (whining in my book) are too much trouble, and your team is so brilliant
- Tell them to buck-up, and a little structure won’t hurt anyone

I have been on the other side – when the complaints come in, they hate me. Then management wonders why they hired me.

So the bottom line is this:
What do you hate more – expensive errors, missed deadlines, creative that has gone off the rails and requires complete rework over a (holiday) weekend – OR – a bunch of whining (but brilliant) staffers who don’t like to follow some basic structure.

For my paycheck, profit sharing or bonus, I’ll take the second choice and tell them all to just do their jobs. Culturally (and I’ve heard this just about everywhere I have worked) structure just doesn’t fit them. They have to be free to create, collaborate, and move as fast as possible, and logging into a central system to note something, or notify someone (not in email!), what’s going on is…too hard. (All this, and timesheets too?)

I can guarantee that when you have a little structure, and a centralized place for everything related to a job, things will actually run smoother. You can find stuff, you know what’s coming up, there’s a budget, and a schedule! No one will admit it, but they will love me.

It can be done in forty working days. I am the partner to motivate you.