Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Good Managers vs Bad Managers

The hardest thing I had to learn about managing people was that there is no one who will do things exactly like me.  I had to learn that the end result was what counted, as long as it was right, to my standards and timely.  When delegating work, this is a really hard thing to learn.

There are so many managers who are "screamers".  Many of them get frustrated because their subordinates do things in their own way to get to the desired results.  The screamers have fragile egos and believe that no one can do work as well as they. So when those who work for them don't handle things in exactly the way the manager would (even if they end up in the same place) they get yelled at.  Bad manager.

From working at agencies, I knew both good and bad managers.  But when I became a recruiter, I relearned this lesson again early on. I was quickly successful and was called by one of the best known advertising recruiters. She offered me a job as president of her firm.

As part of my due diligence, I visited her office.  The first thing that happened is that she had her four or five employees actually lined up and, literally, standing at attention as I entered her office.  They were standing in line to introduce themselves and shake my hand. It was a scene from a B movie; the formality of it was really a turn-off.  Even her office layout was difficult for me.  All her recruiters worked in one room (not uncommon, although I am not a believer in open plan seating) with her desk raised a couple of steps above her people so she could overlook (looking down would be a better description) her employees who sat below her. She told me that the positioning of her desk allowed her to insure that her recruiters were constantly making calls and she could listen to and correct what her recruiters were saying.   

She made it clear that doing this would be an essential part of my job. I knew that that would be impossible for me and turned the job down.  Not surprisingly, I subsequently learned that the turnover there was high.

Good managers know that everyone is different, that everyone approaches problems differently and that no two people are alike; what is important is the result, not the process of getting there.  Bad manages get angry at everyone who works for them because they do not do their jobs or say what they have to say in the same way that the manager does.

Good managers know that there are many ways to achieve good results.  They encourage their people to achieve results in their own way.  Bad manages try to make everyone work like they do, which is impossible.

Good managers allow their people to fail.  That’s right.  Good manages encourage innovation.  If someone has an idea, as long as failing doesn’t cost business, employees should be allowed to try.  And if they fail, they will learn from their errors.  Bad managers rarely innovate; more often than not, they perpetuate their own mistakes.

Good managers correct employees when they have made a mistake.  Bad managers merely scream and often curse.

Good managers rarely raise their voices and never belittle their employees.  Bad managers tend to constantly putting their people down, often in front of others.

Good managers know that they cannot be perfect all the time.  Perfection, by its very definition, can only happen once.  Good managers have high standards and always try to achieve or exceed those standards.  Bad managers have intolerance for people who do not do it their way and who are not perfect in every endeavor.

Good managers are friendly and interested in their subordinates, even if they are not friends.  Bad managers are disinterested and rarely friendly.

Good managers push their subordinates, allow them to get exposure to management.  Bad managers often take credit for work others have done and keep their people away from management.

Good managers go to bat for their employees in terms of raises and promotions.  They give accurate and actionable performance reviews, even if those reviews are not required by management.

Employees who work for good managers always know what is expected of them and how they are doing.  Bad managers give little feedback and often surprise subordinates with negative appraisals.

People who work for good managers are likely to work harder, be more productive and actually remain in their jobs longer.

Life is too short to work for bad managers.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Why Are Agencies Reluctant To Hire Clients?

I would like someone to explain why ad agencies don’t hire more people with client experience and why they are reluctant to hire back agency people who have left the business for a period of time to spend being a client (or doing something else).

While there is no question that a huge percentage of the client-side people I meet do not belong at an agency, there are many who do, but, no matter how hard they try, agencies will not hire them. When I ask corporate people why they want to go to or why they think they would be good at an agency, a many tell me that because of their backgrounds they know what clients want and need from an agency and that they know how to fill that need.  While this response seems like a good one, the irony is that is the totally wrong answer.  Any good agency manager knows what their clients need and want.  They don’t need an ex-corporate person to tell them what they already know.

The right answer is that the person who is looking for an agency job loves advertising, loves the creative process and can do it better than most of the people who have serviced them. Many of the people who answer this way have great stories and case histories of how they have helped their ad agencies develop great advertising.  

Sadly, quite a few of the people who have this right answer just cannot get hired. Many cannot even get an interview at an agency.  HR people and agency managers have said to me that their agency simply doesn’t or won’t hire clients.  I have had these same people tell me that a candidate I wanted to introduce has been out of the business for too many years (Three? Five?  Ten or more?) to return to an agency. 

I have never understood the blanket condemnation of people who didn’t start out at twenty-two years old at an agency.  Sure, there are a few account and creative people who, by the force of their own personality, have gotten hired by an ad agency despite not having agency experience.  And there are a few client-types who have been hired by agencies because they have known and worked with agency management.  But for the most part people who want to join agencies from companies are almost always rejected out of hand.

This is absurd for a number of reasons.  

Why preclude someone who might genuinely be able to make an insightful creative or strategic contribution?  This is especially true recently with more and more companies taking over the strategic role from their agencies.  (Look at the number of consultants who are being hired to perform what was once an ad agency function.  People working for the consulting firms are often client-types who wanted to get back to advertising; since they could not get to an agency, their revenge is to go to a consulting firm and manage agencies.)

Why preclude someone who just may know the client’s business far better than the agency?

Why preclude someone who might have instant credibility in the corporate “C” Suite?

Advertising has become a highly numbers oriented business because of digital.  Agencies can use all the help they can get, no matter where it comes from. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Establishing Your Network To Get A Job

When people are looking for a job, I always tell them that they shouldn’t rely solely on the internet or recruiters. Networking is critical.

The best statistics I have found show that networking has always accounted for about 80% of all jobs; contacting and meeting old acquaintances and friends is critical to the job hunt. 

In talking to people who are looking for a job, many executives tell me that they don’t really have a big network.  The most common reason seems to be that people have been in the same job for many, many years and have therefore not built up their network.  But your network doesn't depend on the number of jobs you have had.  Rather, it depends on the contacts you have made.  Most people have a larger network than they think.

My first advice is to sit down with your computer or a yellow pad and make a list of everyone you have worked with, both those you have reported to and those below you.  This may seem a bit excessive but actually it will force you to think about people you know or have known. Even people who are in tangential positions should be on the list.  (This means that people who worked with you but who may not be in the same job – for instance administrative people – can help introduce you to people they currently work with.) 

Because you haven’t spoken to or seen someone in many years, does not mean you cannot contact them.  In fact, just the opposite.

People should work hard to maintain their network, but the truth is that with the exception of very close friends, most of us lose touch with many people who could be helpful in finding a new job. Constantly reading the trade press will help to know where people you have worked with may be now even if you are not in immediate touch with them.  Even people who have left the business still have friends.
My observation is that people are always happy to help.  There is no reason not to call someone you once knew, but who you haven’t spoken to in a long time, even years. They will readily accept your call or email.  Once, before I started recruiting, I was very unhappy in a job.  I made a list of many people to call, some of whom I had not spoken to in many years.  Everyone I spoke to expressed willingness to help.  Some actually came through, which is what networking is about. And a few of them actually became friends with me again.

While networking, it is important not to come across as desperate.  Simply approach people, tell them that you have decided to move on and wanted to contact them because you always liked them or admire their company and would like an introduction to an appropriate person.  Most people you contact would be happy to see you again, many will give you a name, and some may even be willing to help set up a meeting.
Don't ask for an informational interview; there is no such thing.  I tell this to recent graduates who have a habit of asking for such a thing. But even executives with many years’ experience make this request.  As any good salesperson will tell you, it is important to ask for the order – asking for an informational interview is very passive and sounds wishy-washy.  Simply asking to meet someone because you are interested in knowing their job or company is smart, tactful – and flattering.  And flattery will go a long way to helping you. 

Even if you are meeting someone at a company and they tell you that there are no openings, it would be appropriate to ask them who else in the company or who else they know who you might meet.  This shows that you are strong and aggressive. It also will help expand your network.

If you meet people who you like and who obviously like you, it is perfectly okay to ask if you can stay in contact.  They will almost always say yes.  Then, it is up to you to keep up the contact.  A periodic email, call, even a lunch will help you. I have friends for many, many years who I met this way.    

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