Your employees need clarity

I know it seems like common sense and your brain may agree — but your mouth often takes a different path. If you’re struggling to work with some of your team members, odds are you have not embraced the idea that employees need clarity. Truth be told — most agency leaders struggle with this, especially if they are offering constructive criticism or even tougher — disciplinary action. One group of employees that really needs you to get good at the whole clarity thing are your millennials. They come into your agency with very different ideas about how employees behave, what success looks like and how they can contribute. They’re eager but raw. But if you really find a way to be straightforward and very directive with your feedback, I think they will surprise you. Be it millennials or any other group of employees, agency owners and department heads can be vague, passive-aggressive, or just absent in their management style (you may well be the exception to the rule) and I think there are a few reasons for that. In a recent blog post, I dug into what gets in the way of us being more clear and then offered up some tools we can use to get better at it. Check it out and let me know what you think.  

By |June 10th, 2019|

Hey Agency Owner — Employees Need Clarity

If you’ve been struggling to work with some of your team members, odds are you have not embraced the idea that employees need clarity.  Truth be told — most agency leaders struggle with this, especially if they are offering constructive criticism or even tougher — disciplinary action. Agency owners and department heads are notoriously passive aggressive in their management style (you may well be the exception to the rule) and I think there are a few reasons for that. Most agency owners/leaders are accidental leaders: Odds are you were a brilliant writer, art director, account exec or some other tactical role earlier in your agency life.  At some point, you either got promoted or decided to hang up a shingle. Suddenly, you’re the boss and now you have to supervise people. In many cases — the people that used to be your peers.  And you’re flying without a net because you’ve never been trained or coached on how to mentor and coach a team. You don’t have a practice dummy: When we’re trying to learn a new skill, it’s ideal to be able to practice before we have to actually execute. Managing people doesn’t work that way. So you need to ask for a lot of forgiveness as you improve. Admitting that you didn’t handle a conversation well or could have been better at a coaching opportunity doesn’t negate your authority. You may not have good role models:  It’s easy to conjure up the name of a bad boss but much tougher to point to someone who really did mentor you, give you constructive and specific feedback and held you both capable and accountable. Good bosses/leaders are not plentiful. So you may have to swim in uncharted waters. It’s difficult [...]

By |October 9th, 2016|

Your Employees Aren’t Practice Dummies to Test Management Styles On

If you don’t manage people well, they will find someone else who will. According to The Mercury News, Americans are quitting their jobs at the highest rate in 16 years. In January alone, 2.2 percent of the entire American workforce either left in favor of a new opportunity or quit outright. As a business owner, you face the same problems that managers have encountered for decades. Unfortunately, you don’t have the luxury of management training -- your daily interactions with your team are your training. However, your employees are not practice dummies for you to feel out your management style. They expect you to be a competent, fair and engaging manager, regardless of whether you’ve had formal managerial training. In my experience, many startup managers new to the role end up using a passive-aggressive style, alienating employees and making them feel disrespected. To avoid this fate, you must learn to ask for forgiveness as you actively seek to improve your abilities as a manager. Own the transition from employee to owner Your passion and ability for your craft led you to create a company. Perhaps you were an excellent art director or programmer, but now you’re tasked with supervising accounting and sales departments. People who were once your peers are now your employees. If you don’t learn how to handle that transition, things can get ugly fast. Many of the challenges in this transition stem from a lack of clarity, both within your own decisions and in the way you present them to your team. If you didn’t have good role models for management before you started, you likely don’t know what to do when someone needs constructive criticism or disciplinary action. When you fear hurting people’s [...]

By |November 22nd, 2017|

EOS Model: Why Your Agency Needs a Visionary and an Integrator with Mark Winters

Most agency owners are visionaries – able to see the future and come up with idea after idea to keep their agency on top of things. But most agency owners struggle to move those ideas forward on their own. They need an integrator to help them get things done – to wade through the details and processes. The integrator is the one to follow through and put the visionary’s ideas into practice. This perfect combination of visionary and integrator is what my podcast guest Mark Winters focuses on in his book, Rocket Fuel. Mark is a Certified EOS Implementer, working with agencies to identify this combination of the “visionary” who makes it up and the “integrator” who makes it happen and puts them together within a framework that will get your agency to extraordinary. See how identifying the visionary and the integrator in your agency can push you to the next level of success by learning: The “visionary” and the “integrator” from “Rocket Fuel” by Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters How visionaries and integrators can build trust so that integrators can take control of what visionaries create What business owners need to do when they are an integrator and they need a visionary (most owners are visionaries) If you are a visionary, how to determine if you have an integrator on your team and what to do if you don’t The seven-step visionary integrator connection process for finding the right integrator How to know if you’re going to be able to sell your agency to your integrator or not (and what your exit plan can look like in both scenarios) Things that make visionary-integrator relationships fall apart The five rules and five tools for [...]

By |September 21st, 2017|

Why Good Writing Matters — and 4 Ways to Teach It to Your Team

In a time of emoticons, abbreviations, and 140 character-count replies, a three-paragraph email is the equivalent of “War and Peace.” But communication is a vital part of office life, whether you’re a lab technician sharing results or a human resources staffer announcing a new wellness program. There’s a simple way to guarantee that miscommunications happen as infrequently as possible on your team: ensure every person has good writing skills. Writing Right Clarity is vital to the business world. But in a world that operates at a faster and faster pace, brevity is key. Why write an email when a short text message suffices? There are many reasons. It’s easy to misunderstand a message that’s hastily or poorly composed. It’s even easier to read the wrong intention in a short email that doesn’t provide the right emotional context. Every member of your team needs to communicate precisely and concisely — in writing and face-to-face. Mastering the Message Every office tries to be timely and efficient. Most of them do it at the cost of context and clarity. When you’re pressed for time, the last thing you want to do is over-explain to your client or co-worker. A quick note might actually cause more problems than solve them. Are you neutral or irritated? Is this urgent or not? Mistakes and misunderstandings suggest that you aren’t well-educated, don’t care about your client’s project, or lack the skills to complete it capably. That’s why poorly written emails affect communications inside your office and customers’ perceptions of your business. That’s not an impression you want to communicate to your customers or your employees to communicate to each other. Here are four ways to build a team that communicates clearly: 1.     [...]

By |October 4th, 2017|

How to Intentionally Build Your Company Culture (Rather Than Leave It to Chance)

Culture is like a hairstyle: Everyone has one, even if they’re bald. You can either pursue a style that accurately reflects your personality, or you can pretend it doesn’t matter and end up looking like Edward Scissorhands. If you haven’t been actively focused on your company culture, it can be hard to see clearly. It’s the same reason you don’t understand the quirks of your family when you’re a kid, but as an adult, you can look back on them with clarity. Whether you see it or not, company culture is a big deal for several reasons. 1. Employee satisfaction. An overwhelming number of statistics reveal the negative consequences of low employee engagement. Dissatisfied workers lead to greater absenteeism, lower productivity and higher turnover rates. If your employees are dissatisfied or bored at work, you have a serious problem. 2. Financial performance. Your culture is apparent to outsiders you interact with (vendors, customers, business partners, etc.), and no one wants to work with a negative company. It’s hard to communicate a positive identity when negative things are happening in your organization. For example, GitHub’s alpha-male culture apparently forced a female employee to quit. The PR and financial nightmare that ensued showed outsiders that it’s a bad place to work. A positive culture attracts outsiders while creating excited employees who advocate for the company. Culture increases productivity and boosts your image to improve financial performance. 3. Personal benefits. One of the privileges of running a business is influencing how it’s run. You don’t get to separate yourself from the culture you create: You suffer or enjoy whatever environment develops. Additionally, your personal values and character are reflected by your business, so make that image accurate. Taking charge [...]

By |September 15th, 2017|

14 Essential Leadership Principles for Every Business Leader with John Rossman

Organizations that don’t have a set of guiding principles find themselves struggling to be consistent and to always be moving towards their bigger picture goals. A lack of defined expectations also makes it difficult to have reasonable expectations from your leadership team. If you don’t give them a sense of what the company values and how you expect your leaders to behave – they have to make it up as they go along. Those challenges become even more pronounced in times of rapid change. And if there’s anything you know for sure about our industry – it’s that we are experiencing a state of constant change. My podcast guest John Rossman had a front row seat in being one of the co-creators of the leadership principles that have steered one of the biggest titans of industry, Amazon. They too exist in an industry that doesn’t even begin to resemble itself from a decade ago! Since he left Amazon, John has been using what he learned to help clients define and live by their own guiding principles.  He also wrote the book, The Amazon Way: 14 Leadership Principles Behind the World's Most Disruptive Company. In our conversation, John talks about some of the most critical of Amazon’s principles and how they apply to agencies today: Why you need to get really clear on what your future looks like John’s favorite Amazon leadership principles Why you need to be proactive and take action The importance of prioritizing getting to the right answer over getting along Structuring interviews so you find the employees that are actually willing to grow and improve Amazon’s “think big” and why it’s all about experimentation John’s best hiring practices like getting independent opinions [...]

By |September 14th, 2017|

Looking For a Job? Ditch the Resume Tips and Open a Marketing Book

For many unemployed young people, the job hunt is a dismal pursuit. Books about resume writing state the importance of “standing out,” but it’s hard to showcase your achievements when everyone around you has comparable triumphs. Even that stellar academic history becomes a minimum requirement when colleges are handing out As at record highs. You’ve listed many accomplishments, but from the perspective of a potential employer, you look exactly the same as every other applicant. If you’re relying on stale resume advice, you’ll only get as far as others taking the same approach. By thinking like a marketer and creating an ad campaign for yourself, you can defy the odds and outshine other qualified applicants. Adopt the marketing mindset Marketers have been tackling the problems of differentiating their product from competitors’ and becoming the go-to consumer brand for years. It’s a constant struggle, and they consistently have to up their game to stay in the race. Like them, you want to stand out among your peers. Applying these specific marketing tactics will help you leave a lasting impression on potential employers. Appeal to your target market. Before potential employers see your name on a list of applicants, you should be working to interact and market yourself directly. Turn one-way communication into an ongoing conversation by engaging with companies on social media. Don’t forget to spruce up your online personality, and keep your digital resume updated.Through your profile and interactions, demonstrate how your personality and experiences would benefit a company and its clients. Consider writing a blog to further express yourself. Ask yourself, "If my work were a product, how would I market myself to my target audience? How would I differentiate myself from other applicants?" When [...]

By |September 1st, 2017|

Dealstorming Methodology: The Combination of Deal-Making and Brainstorming & How to Use it to Grow Your Business with Tim Sanders

I know very few agency owners who love that the burden of sales sits squarely on their shoulders. Many of you don’t enjoy sales and would rather be back in the shop, creating or strategizing. Well, here’s some good news. You don’t and shouldn’t do it alone. My podcast guest and best-selling author (Love is the Killer App, Saving the World at Work and his new book Dealstorming) Tim Sanders believes that sales is a team sport which requires bringing together different perspectives from every corner of your agency and beyond. Tim has held the position of Chief Solutions Officer at Yahoo! and is now the CEO of Deeper Media, an online advice-content company. As a veteran sales, marketing and HR leader, he has some unconventional ideas for these unconventional times. His take on the combination of brainstorming and deal-making or “Dealstorming” will challenge your thinking about how to get sales done and may be just what you need to land that next big client. Follow Tim’s thinking as he and I explore: Tim’s start in sales working for a radio station Dealstorming methodology: how Tim took dealmaking and brainstorming and put them together The difference between collaboration and cooperation How to strategically build your dealstorm team Turning your peer group into “competimates” that you can collaborate with to make each other stronger Why you absolutely need diverse perspectives in the room (and why you should have an external voice on your dealstorm team) The secrets to making your dealstorm meeting a magic meeting with results New business through rapid problem solving The hacker, the chef, and the artist: the three personas for solving different problems How leaders lead culture Tim Sanders is a veteran [...]

By |May 19th, 2017|

How to Inspire Creativity and Innovation in Business with Jason Keath

On your mark, get set, be creative! Wouldn’t it be awesome if being creative on demand was that easy? And it’s not just confined to your creative department anymore. Today, everyone at the agency has to be creative whether it’s your account service team bringing fresh business ideas to clients, your biz dev team trying to figure out ways to get on your prospect’s radar screen or, of course, your creative department in all aspects of what you produce. So, how do you keep the creative juices flowing?   My podcast guest Jason Keath, the founder of Social Fresh, is steeped in creativity and innovation in business and is here to help you develop and define creativity and show you how to bring it to life inside your shop. In reality, creativity is a process. And it’s within this process that the answers are found. Join Jason and me as we follow the road to creativity with: Jason’s background Why Jason started Social Fresh How to get your whole team to be creative Why you need to hear bad ideas and how to manage your team so they aren’t afraid to voice them Why you should brainstorm at least 50-100 ideas for every one that you actually put into place How having your team prepare ideas anonymously in advance will save you time and result in a discussion that’s more free How infusing creativity and innovation in your business leads to business success Why creativity comes from having at least one core competency (and how to figure out what your core competency is) The filter phase of the process post brainstorming where you take ideas and combine and eliminate ideas until you’ve broken them down [...]

By |March 10th, 2017|

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