If your advertising agency culture sits on either end of two extremes, you don’t need an engagement survey or a high-priced consultant to confirm your reality. You can feel the energy when things are amazing, and you can smell the stench when things are rotting away in your business.

But what if things are somewhere in between? What if you’re unsure if things are heading in the right direction? Or what if you’re confident they’re really good, but you want a heads-up before you suddenly realize you’re whiffing six-day old cod?

You might need that engagement survey, and you may need that consultant.

In the meantime, here are three danger signs that will tell you if your advertising agency culture is in trouble:


A journalist friend once had an editor who routinely rejected poorly written copy because it produced what he called MEGO – My Eyes Glaze Over. In other words, it was boring. Are your organization’s vision, mission, and values creating MEGO? When you read the statements to employees, do they say, “Yes! That describes us so well!”? Or do they roll their eyes and say, “Yeah, right. That’d be nice.”?

It’s great to have statements that set the bar high, but most employees have a pretty sophisticated BS meter. If you acknowledge the gaps between where your advertising agency culture is and where you and others want to take it, most employees will help you make it happen. If you’re trying to prop up your culture with $10 words, however, you’ll lose respect and trust.


When your culture is strong, healthy, and vibrant, your employees become your best recruiters. They sing the company’s praises every chance they get—and your talent acquisition costs begin to plummet.

So how much are you spending on recruiting fees? If you’re relying heavily on headhunters, employment services, and advertising, it might be because your current employees don’t want to feel responsible for drawing others into their cultural quagmire.


Pay attention to what you’re hearing from both your customers and your employees. And remember, they don’t just speak with words. If customers stop buying a particular product or service, they’re speaking with their pocket books. If they always ask for help from a specific employee, they’re speaking with their preferences. Likewise, employees might not specifically say they are happy or unhappy, but you might see it in their expressions or in their attitudes about a task.

You want to hear (and see) customers and employees describing your company in similar, glowing terms. If your employees love the place, but you’re losing customers, then your culture isn’t working. And if you get high customer satisfaction scores, but you can’t hold on to team members, then something’s amiss.

A healthy culture fires on all cylinders: it’s considered a best place to work and the best place to do business.

Want to see what a healthy culture looks like and learn how it was created? Check out this case study on OAC Services, Inc. This already successful consulting firm discovered that embracing Love, Energy, Audacity and Proof could take its culture and performance to even higher levels of excellence.

Need some help improving your work environment? Download this free paper that includes seven practical steps for creating and cultivating a great culture.