Today’s Agency Employees Crisis and What to Do About It

New business is on the upswing, you’re experiencing shorter sales cycles, and your business is growing by leaps and bounds. All of that is great. But you’re still facing a crisis. An agency employee crisis. There just aren’t enough qualified people to fill the spots needed to service all that business. Or maybe you have just enough employees right now but you are seeing other agencies lose staff to corporate clients and media groups and are fearful that you might be next.    It’s time to take a breath and discover all the reasons that your agency employees want to stay with you and how you can attract more of the same. Your employees have lots of reasons they like agency work and you just might be surprised at the number one reason they offer for wanting to stay. Believe it or not, it’s not about the money.    Find out my take on the current agency employee situation as I detail out:   The agency employees shortage: why it’s happening right now What agency employees want most (and how to use this to attract and retain them) Things that will cause employees to leave The best benefits you can offer to attract and retain employees How you can compete with the corporate world for employees Why you need to be actively looking for employees, even if you don’t need them right now Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at Agency Management Institute. He has also owned and operated his own agency over the last 20-years. And all through the year, he straddles the fence of working in his agency and working with 250+ small- to mid-size agencies in a variety of ways. He works [...]

How to Prevent Internal Fraud from Happening in Your Agency

Internal fraud. Two words that strike fear into the hearts of any agency owner. It’s not a subject that we want to talk about but it’s a real danger for agencies. And while most agency owners think that it could never happen to them, I know from my experience with hundreds of agencies that it can and does happen to the best of us.    But have no fear, by following some very simple best practices around your accounting systems and the people you trust with your money, you can take great strides in making sure the right checks and balances are in place inside your agency.   Take a listen to this solocast where I detail out: Common ways internal fraud is committed and ways to prevent it from happening How agencies are targeted with email scams The ways agency employees embezzle hundreds of thousands of dollars from agencies The systems you need to put in place to prevent fraud Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at Agency Management Institute. He has also owned and operated his own agency over the last 20-years. And all through the year, he straddles the fence of working in his agency and working with 250+ small- to mid-size agencies in a variety of ways. He works with agency owners in peer network groups, teaches workshops for owners and their leadership teams, teaches AE bootcamps, and does a lot of consulting. Because he works with a lot of agencies every year — he has the unique opportunity to see the patterns and the habits (both good and bad) that happen over and over again. He has also written two books and been featured in The New York Times, Entrepreneur [...]

How to Deal with Stale Employees in Your Agency

One of the most heartbreaking realities in agencies today is what I call stale employees. These are employees that usually have been on your staff a long time and were a wonderful fit for your agency back in the day.  But today, they really aren’t pulling their weight, their attitude is slipping or you just don’t have as much use for their skill set as you used to. The other unfortunate byproduct of this type of employee is that the rest of your staff is either working around the stale employee’s lack of skills or they are resentful of them because they have slacked off but are still getting paid a pretty penny. Neither helps your agency be the best it can be.   It’s a tough, emotional situation. These are people who have been loyal to you for a long time. But the truth is, they aren’t worth what you are paying them. In this solocast, I give you some tangible steps to move that stale employee either out the door or back to becoming a productive part of your team again. What you can learn in this solocast: Stale employees: how to recognize them and why they’re holding your agency back Can these employees be saved? It’s a firm maybe How to have the necessary conversation with stale employees — you owe them honesty The kinds of goals to set to see measurable change and growth before determining their place inside your agency The costs to you as an agency owner for working with stale employees to up their game How to recognize if you really do have to let the employee go How to make a decision while realizing that you aren’t [...]

Strategies for Increasing Employee Success in Your Agency with Art Boulay

Whether you want to improve the skill, leadership and commitment levels of your current team to elevate them to be the best they can be or you need to add a superstar to your roster – you have to be able to assess their skills, attitudes, behaviors and motivations. How do you make increasing employee success happen? Most agency owners are not development or hiring experts. How do you determine if you have the right people in the right seats? How do you know you’re hiring not just the right person, but the right person for your agency? Do you just go with your gut and hope things will work out for the best?   Having the wrong person in the wrong seat or hiring a bad fit employee will cost you about nine months of their loaded salary. And that’s before you factor in the potential risk of losing a client or team members. My podcast guest, Art Boulay can ease some of this angst by offering common sense solutions for hiring better employees and making current employees stronger. He does this through a series of assessments both of current employees and prospective hires to help you keep your agency on track and moving forward. Art and I discuss the ins and outs of employee acquisition and retention.  Amongst other things, we cover: Assessment tools for hiring the right employee lead to more objective and effective hiring How Art’s tools can assess agencies, what makes them unique, and how that will help to find the right future employees From hire to retire: what employers and employees should do to ensure that employees don’t leave right away The strategies for increasing employee success in any [...]

What Successful Mentoring Looks Like & the Effect it Has on Your Agency with Mitch Matthews

Never had a mentor? Not sure where to start or how to structure a successful mentoring relationship with your employees? In my podcast conversation with Mitch Matthews, he helps us to understand what great mentoring looks like. Mitch will show you how to mentor your employees with a wide variety of tools and specific solutions to move both yourself and your employees down the road to a successful mentoring relationship. I love this quote from Mitch, ““I know especially in agencies … this is so critical because you want to inspire the best work, you want to inspire full engagement, you want to inspire loyalty, you want to inspire creativity, all of those things. One of the best ways to do that is through mentoring.” If you’re not familiar with Mitch, let me tell you a little about him. He has an amazing podcast that I highly recommend called “Dream, Think, Do” (http://mitchmatthews.com/) and it is at the top of the iTunes chart for a reason. Mitch has worked on mentoring with entrepreneurs, leaders and teams from organizations like NASA, Disney, booking.com and Principal Financial Group. He’s really passionate about helping entrepreneurs and leaders dream bigger, think better, become more successful, and do more of the stuff they were put on this planet to do. To listen – you can visit the Build A Better Agency site (https://agencymanagementinstitute.com/mitch-matthews/) and grab either the iTunes or Stitcher files or just listen to it from the web. If you’d rather just read the conversation, the transcript is below. If you're going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn't you get the benefits too? Welcome to 'Build a Better Agency,' where we show you how to build [...]

Hey Agency Owner — are you mentoring for growth?

Agency owners are really good at a lot of things.  Unfortunately, mentoring employees for growth is often not one of them. I get it -- you want self starters. You don't have time to micromanage people. You want someone who can think/behave like an owner. You know how you get employees like that? You create them. You hire smart people and then you teach them how to drive your agency's growth, your client's confidence and your AGI.  None of that happens by accident. It's why you should be spending 20% of your time actively mentoring your team.  So what does that look like? Everyone on your staff should have a weekly (yes weekly) one on one meeting with their supervisor. So as an agency owner -- you'd meet with your direct reports weekly.  Here's what mentoring employees should look like: The employee owns the meeting.  They schedule it and re-schedule it if necessary.  If you're traveling -- do it by phone or Skype.  The employee is expected to come to the meeting prepared.  Use a form that outlines how the conversation should go -- and they should have it completed in advance and bring you a copy and one for themselves.  (Email me if you want to see a sample) The meeting is 20-30 minutes long and focuses on quarterly goals and big picture progress -- not a traffic meeting.  This is their opportunity to pick your brain, run ideas past you, and get your feedback.  It's your opportunity to coach, ask tough questions and encourage them. This aligned beautifully with the EOS process or any system where you as an agency, department or individual are working on quarterly goals. This is your chance to hold [...]

Hey agency owners — are you struggling with your millennial employees?

One of the most common struggles I hear from agency owners is that they're struggling with managing their millennial employees.  For a bit of levity, I often share this video.[youtube]https://youtu.be/Sz0o9clVQu8And in case you're a millennial reading this -- here's the response about working with "older" employers.[youtube]https://youtu.be/C1a6M3dBNwc

Hey agency owner — it’s time you got clear with your expectations

I know you think you’re a good communicator but I’d bet you $100 that, when it comes to setting employee expectations, you aren’t as clear as you think you are. No matter how good you are -- you could be better. It’s not entirely your fault.  You have several strikes against you. Agencies tend to attract very strong willed, opinionated people. They’re tough to manage. You probably grew up in the agency world and you miss being “one of the gang” so there’s a part of you that manages in a way that at least you’re a popular boss. You are wearing a lot of hats and since the employee issues are rarely on fire like the client ones are — it’s an easy bullet to dodge But here’s the problem. When people don’t know exactly what is expected of them… The great ones leave because they want to be part of a team that is very clear about where it’s going and they want to contribute somewhere Or — the great ones stay but over time, lose their drive and become mediocre The mediocre ones will never rise to the occasion and become great The crappy ones stay because you never ask too much of them How’s that for team building? Worst of all — you deal with it in a very passive aggressive way.  You give vague directions and then you’re angry that they don’t behave in the way that you want.  Or an employee steps out of your perception of how your employees should behave but you don’t give them the feedback.  You just get angry about it. See if these sound familiar.  “I handing him a book and said ‘it’s a [...]

Hey Agency Owner — Give your employees context and connect the dots

Sometimes I think as agency owners we forget to connect the dots for our team in an agency management system. Remember when you were a kid and your parents started to talk about something and then in the middle of the conversation, one of them gave the other "the look" and they either stopped their conversation, lowered their voices so you couldn't hear, or left the room to finish the conversation? What did you immediately do?  You tried even harder to listen. If you couldn't hear, your imagination started filling in the blanks. Suddenly the story includes espionage or murder or at the very least your favorite neighbor moving away. In the absence of facts, our brains create a story that is usually wrong and usually way out of proportion from reality. When we were left on our own to connect the dots, the picture got a little crazy. That is happening today in your agency management system, especially as it pertains to money, billings and profitability. How many times have you uttered a sentence like this without any context: Our billings are down again this month.  We've got to reverse this trend or we're in some serious trouble. I don't think that client XYZ won't be around much longer. It doesn't look like we're going to pay out a bonus this year. I get so sick and tired of writing time off. Each of those sentences may be true.  But if you don't connect the dots and give your employees the context to gauge just how serious the situation is, they go into imagination mode.  Suddenly, in their heads, they are all out on the street, looking for work, and begging for change so they can bring [...]

Hiring the right employee — sometimes your diamond in the rough is really just a lump of coal

Hiring the right employee is always the goal -- but so often -- not the reality. Many agency owners particularly suck at hiring. Worse than not hiring the right employee -- agency owners suck at firing the wrong ones. If there's one universal flaw among agency owners it's that they hang onto bad employees much longer than they should. Sometimes your diamond in the rough is just a lump of coal. They're not going to get better.  You can't keep moving them from position to position, trying to find a better fit.  They're not going to suddenly fit your culture or stop behaving like they're phoning it in.  Their proofreading isn't going to magically get better and their horrid email composition isn't going to suddenly get all Struck and Whited. And even if they are busting a hump -- you know when it's not working. I'm not talking about expecting someone to get it on day one. Hiring the right employee takes some time and effort. Everyone needs time to ramp up.  Everyone needs some training and mentoring. But they shows signs that tell you that maybe this time you've hired the right employee.  Or at least someone with the potential of being good. So what should you do when you get that sickening feeling in your gut that perhaps your newest hire is your worst hire in a long time?  Design one last chance but make sure they know it's their last chance: I know you. You can't fire them today, like you should. So create one last chance.  Odds are you've already talked to them about their performance.  They know you're not happy.  Even if you've only communicated that passive aggressively -- they probably [...]